Team TargetCancer Foundation 2017 Runner Profile: Daniel Rothenberg

Jan 18, 2017 | News

By TargetCancer Foundation Advocacy Council Member Kim Balkus

Every marathon runner has a unique story. But very few runners not only know how to complete a 26.2 mile run, but also know their way around a scientific laboratory. Expertise in both areas gives Team TargetCancer Foundation member Daniel Rothenberg a unique perspective on the importance of the research funds he is raising through his 2017 marathon run.

Daniel studied Biomedical Engineering at UT-Austin and graduated with highest honors. Prior to graduation, he spent summers doing research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Science Center in Houston. However, when Daniel began looking into graduate schools, he found himself in the Biological Engineering Department at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He liked the unique approach the program took with cancer research: traditional life science researchers and biologists were brought together with engineers, and encouraged to collaborate across disciplines.

“When it comes to biological research, you fail far more than you succeed, but that makes it more rewarding when discoveries are made that you know will be used down the line for future treatments.”


Daniel first became involved with TargetCancer Foundation when Alain Ferry, founder of the RACECancer Foundation, invited Daniel to join him for a tour of the lab of TargetCancer Foundation Grantee Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy. Alain knew Daniel had been doing research at MIT as part of his PhD program, and might be interested in Dr. Bardeesy’s work studying cholangiocarcinoma.

Right away, Daniel noticed some commonalities with the work he observed on the tour, and his own research. He was able to see the direct impact that work was making, and the need for the type of funding that TargetCancer Foundation provides. Daniel began volunteering with TargetCancer Foundation because of its strong commitment to rare cancer research and the real progress being made through the funding of these efforts.


In addition to being a cancer researcher, Daniel is also a runner, though he only started running when he came to Boston.  Throughout his high school baseball career, running was always considered a “punishment” and it wasn’t until he got to Boston with like-minded people that he used it as “meditation in motion.” He learned that, “if there’s a reason to run, it’s a lot easier to get out the door.” Running for the TargetCancer Foundation Boston Marathon 2017 Team gave him that reason.

Like so many families, Daniel’s family has been touched by cancer. One of his dear aunts passed away after a battle with cancer.  The 2017 Boston Marathon falls four days after the four-year anniversary of her passing. He also has an aunt who is currently battling gastric and breast cancer. She is being treated with a protein kinase inhibitor and is doing well.

Daniel has finished five marathons, but his goal is to finish the Boston Marathon in under four hours for the first time. As for fundraising, he is working hard towards achieving a personal goal of $10,000. Just beyond the marathon lies an even bigger goal- completing his Ph.D. in May.

TargetCancer Foundation is proud to welcome Daniel to the team for the 2017 Boston Marathon, and wishes him the best of luck! You can support Daniel by visiting his fundraising page. 

Founded in 2009, TargetCancer Foundation funds research into rare cancers like cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer. These cancers are not only rare, but also suffer from a lack of funding and basic research tools, and as a result have very poor rates of survival. By addressing these overlooked diseases TargetCancer Foundation seeks to have the maximum impact on the lives of those fighting rare cancers, and ultimately, all cancers.

In addition, TargetCancer Foundation supports patients facing rare cancers directly through a Patient Assistance Fund as well as clinical trial and other guidance. Since being founded, TargetCancer Foundation has provided close to $1 million in rare cancer research grants, leading to new clinical trials in cholangiocarcinoma and esophageal cancer, and multiple publications in major scientific journals. The proceeds of Daniel’s run will go directly to furthering this important work.