Sky is pleased to announce our three 2023 $50,000 Grant Recipients

We are proud to announce our 2023 Sky Grant recipients. The process to achieve these awards is rigorous. The applications submitted for this cycle nearly doubled. Our esteemed Sky Scientific Advisory Committee  makes the final recommendations to the Sky Governing Board for approval.

The following are three $50,000 grant recipients for 2023 


Despoina Kalfakakou, PhD | New York University Langone Health

Research Title: Therapeutic impact of clonal heterogeneity of human pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Lisa Miller-Phillips, MD | University of California San Francisco

Research Title: Histological and transcriptional characterization of organotropism in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with focus on the “Lung Only” metastatic variant


Nina Steele, PhD | Henry Ford Health

Research Title: Immune suppression and racial disparities in pancreatic cancer progression



Sky Foundation awards seed-money grants to scientists and clinicians from coast to coast who are pursuing research of great promise in the areas of early detection, prevention or treatment of pancreatic cancer. This start-up funding helps researchers get to the point in their work where they can successfully attract financial support from the National Institutes of Health and other national funding sources, and ultimately, be able to make a positive impact on the outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.

Since its inception, Sky Foundation has funded over one million dollars in seed fund grants. Every year our researchers update us on the progress and their hope for the future.


“We are all so indebted for the work done by SKY Foundation in the last decade. I have been a beneficiary of SKY Foundation seed funds. I was supported by Sheila during the time when I was establishing my laboratory. I owe a lot of my success to Sheila and SKY Foundation. These seed funds allowed the generation of critical preliminary data and helped my research team secure more than $2.4 million in federal grants. The help from SKY foundation is integral to the success of the research.”Asfar Sohail Azmi, PhD

“The support of the Sky Foundation has been fundamental because it provided the financial resources to carry out our studies. Most importantly, our focus and efforts were inspired by the unwavering dedication and commitment of Sheila Kasselman, who we truly admired for her relentless fight against pancreatic cancer. Sheila was the driving force behind our science and our mission to make a difference as she did, and for this she will live forever in our hearts.”  Rafael Fridman, PhD

“My team and I are extremely grateful for Sky Foundation to fund this promising study, which allowed us to use state-of-the-art technologies to discover these novel findings, the fundamentals for making substantial progress in pancreatic cancer research.”Simone Benitz, PhD

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Sky Foundation. Sky Foundation’s support of a postdoctoral fellow allowed us to do these studies, which will inform future pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. We look forward to continued partnership with the foundation to advance discoveries in the laboratory to help patients.” Ben Z. Stanger, MD, PhD

The future to eradicate pancreatic cancer is promising and hopeful. These experts are conducting innovative research to increase the survival rate of pancreatic cancer from 12% to, one day, 100%. We are making a difference because of your generous donations. Thank you for your support. Let’s continue to invest in the future.