The CURE FL Awards Programme

An overview of the CURE FL Awards

What are the CURE FL Awards?

Our mission at the FLF is to lead new and determined efforts to find innovative treatments and cures for Follicular Lymphoma (FL). We have a suite of global initiatives aimed to make curative therapies available to FL patients as soon as possible, with our inaugural initiative being the CURE FL Awards – CUrative Research to Eliminate Follicular Lymphoma, launched in early 2022.

CURE FL is a unique research grant programme for the FLF, a catalyst for scientific research to lead to better treatments and cures. This programme harnesses top clinical scientists and researchers from around the world, with the most innovative and exciting research projects. We hope our leading investigative teams will make strong progress and move quickly towards trials, and for successful outcomes to be available to patients as soon as possible.

The CURE FL Awards are a call for transformative projects in areas of treatment that we have identified as being the most likely to deliver rapid progress towards a cure. The FLF has worked closely with our partners, the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP) at the Milken Institute, to develop and launch the CURE FL Awards to assess and prioritise targets for philanthropic development for FL therapies. Its aim is to support innovative and impactful FL research with targeted funding.

The first cycle launched in early 2022 is run in collaboration with the Milken Institute, and the second cycle, launched in August 2023, is run in partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Why are we doing this?

FL as a condition is often put in the “back seat” in research compared to other forms of lymphomas and blood cancers, because it is slower progressing, and clinical trials are more challenging. The CURE FL Awards are specifically designed to change this, to give an impactful voice to the FL community, to highlight that patients living with FL should not be overlooked and to drive the pace for new therapies, which are urgently needed.

Most FL patients experience several periods of remission and relapse over a number years or decades. A small number of patients progress to a more aggressive form of FL earlier, with 5-year survival rates being as low as 50%. Even patients with more favourable survival rates endure both the psychological toll of an incurable, relapsing disease and the increasing toxicities of therapies designated for later relapses. anel

The CURE FL Awards are shining a light on FL and are catalysing focused development of therapies for FL patients.anel

“The CURE FL Awards mean real progress towards a cure. Speaking on behalf of our members, we feel supported – it helps us to worry less and look forward to a positive future. Wheels are in motion to find cures for us all, so thank you.”

Nicky Greenhalgh – Founder of the Living with Follicular Lymphoma community and patient representative on review.


Focus and selection

Areas of focus

An extensive review of the FL research landscape identified two areas as the most likely to lead to curative therapies and be available to FL patients as soon as possible:

Cellular immunotherapy (CAR-T and others)

Deliver Targeted therapies (standalone or in combination with other treatments)

The programme is designed to encourage creative approaches to examining how these therapies can best be targeted towards a cure in FL. Our criteria for assessment include the potential of any work funded to go into a clinical trial or be applied directly to patient treatment in the near term. We encourage potential applicants to think creatively about high-impact projects and also the creation of cross-functional/organisational teams.

Cellular immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is believed to hold great promise for a curative effect. Immunotherapy treatments take advantage of the body’s natural defences to fight cancer. Developments in immunotherapy have significant importance as an evolving approach to cancer therapy in general, and for FL specifically.

One type of immunotherapy is CAR-T, where T cells (white blood cells that fight infection) are engineered in the lab, then re-introduced to the patient to attack and kill the cancer B cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies) in lymphoma. CAR-T therapies have shown promise in clinical trials, leading to approval for use in relapsed or refractory high-grade FL, which is an exciting development. How long these responses will last remains to be determined. Also, for now, CAR-T treatment is not suitable for all patients due to the risk of side effects, and it remains a complex procedure only available in limited centres.

Through the consultation process in designing our areas of focus, this area of CAR-T and other engineered immune cells was identified as a high priority for further investigation through the CURE FL Awards because of the success so far in this treatment area.

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapies are cancer treatments that use drugs to target specific genes and proteins that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. Advances in understanding the biology of FL have shown a unique dependence of FL on epigenetic changes, meaning how a cell controls what genes are expressed rather than simply mutations in direct cancer-causing genes.

Through the work to develop the award, a combination of epigenetically targeted therapies was identified as a priority area of focus that might advance the field, but more work needs to be done before we can individualize a given drug for a given patient. This is an area with great potential that because of the complexities has had little investment in FL, and so the FLF have prioritised it within the CURE FL Awards programme to provide support to develop new epigenetic agents and combinations.

How did we select the proposals?

From the start, we wanted to direct funding to scientific areas of FL need, with patient interests fully in mind, and be able to accelerate the path to the clinic. Through the CURE FL Awards, we link research and clinical communities with patients.

CURE FL awardees are chosen with the input and support of a wide range of experts in the global FL field, together with patients to ensure their views and experiences are part of the development process for new treatments.

A rigorous review process with several scientific review panels, advisory boards, and patient review panels, enables us to identify our successful investigators.


“For patients with FL, I want to emphasise that each project aims to have a clinical trial available or in late-stage planning, by the end of the funding period. This demonstrates our commitment to getting new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.” 

Dr Mitchell Smith, CMO at the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation

CURE FL Awards cycle 1 (2022)

We are delighted to share more about the first group of successful recipients and their exciting areas of research. Each successful investigator has received a research grant of up to $500K over 2 years, starting in December 2022. We believe this is our first significant step in the journey to deliver our mission to find a cure and find it fast.

Our hopes for the 2022 CURE FL Awards

By awarding up to $2 million of funding over the next two years, we are moving one step closer to finding better treatments and a cure for FL.

FL has rarely previously been a central focus for drug development, and we want to change this. With this programme, we are putting FL front and centre in Lymphoma research and catalysing the development of therapies for the underserved FL patient populations.

We hope the knowledge gained during our initial studies (of cycle 1), will lead to clinical trials of new CAR-T cell treatments – or combinations – that will provide hope and opportunity to patients and give clinicians knowledge of why certain treatments do and do not work in certain patients.

Meet the 2022 CURE FL Awards grantees

Dr Hans-Guido Wendel, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Engaging the Inhibitory BTLA Receptor for the Treatment of FL.

A new signal mechanism (HVEM/BTLA) abnormal in 90% of FL cases and important in the genesis of FL has been identified by Dr. Wendel and his group This makes HVEM/BTLA a high-value target specific to FL. CAR-T cells that attack all B cells are an exciting new treatment for FL. This study will use CAR-T in a different way, to specifically attack this FL-specific pathway. The goal is to have a clinical trial of these novel CAR-T cells open for patients by the end of the grant period.


Wendy Béguelin, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine

Utilizing EZH2 Inhibition to Improve Immune Therapies in FL​.

Dr. Béguelin, an expert in lymphoma biology, along with her clinical collaborators, will conduct trials combining epigenetic-targeted EZH2 inhibitors with immunotherapy (CART or bispecific antibodies), or with apoptosis-targeted BCL2 inhibitors. Using unique FL mouse models and patient samples, she will study combinations of targeted therapies with immunotherapy, including impact on both FL B cells and its microenvironment. The plan is to define effective combinations to improve therapy in FL.


Patricia Pérez-Galán, PhD, Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer​

Dual CD19-CART Approaches to Counteract Antigen Escape and Tumour Microenvironment Immune Suppression in FL.

Dr Perez-Galan leads this Spanish group with extensive clinical experience developing CAR-T cell treatment for lymphoma. They will develop new generation dual-targeted CAR-T cells, cells that target not only lymphoma cells but also the surrounding microenvironment that helps keep FL cells alive. They hope to have a clinical trial of the best CAR-T ready by the end of the grant period.

Hear more about Dr Perez-Galan’s research in this short video below:

Please click here to view the Spanish version


Joshua Brody, MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Preventing Antigen Escape After T Cell Therapies by Enhancing Fas-Mediated Bystander Killing.

CAR-T cells are an excellent treatment for some patients with FL, but do not work for everyone. Dr Brody, an expert in immunotherapy of lymphoma, and his team have evidence that bystander cells that do not express the CAR-T target are one mechanism of CAR-T resistance, and that they may have a way to overcome this. Their study may well lead to a clinical trial of CAR-T given with a drug that will enhance the killing of these bystander cells, improving outcomes for patients.

Hear more about Dr Brody’s research in this short video below:


CURE FL Awards cycle 2 (2024)

We are thrilled to collaborate with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for our second cycle of the CURE FL Awards, known as the ‘LLS-FLF Research United to CURE FL Awards’. FLF and LLS intend to co-fund up to four research grants with a total of up to $3.5 million.

The heart of the initiative is the request for proposals designed to fuel innovative research projects that hold the potential to cure FL. Projects focusing on immune system-engaging therapies, including cellular immunotherapy (CAR-T and others), humoral approaches (bispecific molecules), and targeted therapy for FL.

Contact us to find out more

To find out more about the FLF or participate in the next cycle of the CURE FL Awards, please contact FLF at We would be delighted to speak with you.