Vital Statistics

  • Founded: 1946
  • Office: Wilmette, Illinois
  • Volunteers: More than 1,500, organized in 23 fundraising chapters.
  • Patient Programs: Educational conferences and financial assistance
  • Research Program: Annual grants program exclusively funds New Investigators doing research throughout the world


About the Leukemia Research Foundation

In 1946, the Leukemia Research Foundation (LRF) was established in Chicago to memorialize 12-year-old Sherwin Pessin. Leukemia was a well-known but not well-understood disease. For Sherwin, as well as thousands of other children and adults, there was no hope and no possibility for a cure.

Since that time nearly 65 years ago, the Leukemia Research Foundation has raised more than $48 million in pursuit of our goals: To conquer leukemia, lymphoma, and myelodysplastic syndromes while enriching the quality of life of those touched by these diseases.

Our strategy to achieve these vitally important ambitions is to fund worldwide medical research into the causes and cures of blood cancers, provide patient financial assistance and offer educational/emotional support programs.

Based on recommendations from our prestigious Medical Advisory Board, the LRF provides research grants to scientists around the world. The LRF exclusively funds New Investigators – individuals who are beginning to establish their own laboratories and are no longer under the tutelage of a senior scientist mentor.  These one year grants are $100,000 each, an impressive amount that allows innovative scientists to act on their ideas, and try new procedures and experiments that will lead to significant breakthroughs.


Over the years, the LRF has funded hundreds of research scientists and projects on five different continents with our exclusive focus on New Investigators.  The success and effectiveness of their funded project is measured by various objectives including the furtherance of leukemia and related blood cancer research (ultimately working toward a cure) and to launch and support the research of scientists early in their career. Research advances depend on these investigators of the future to bring fresh ideas and technologies to research problems and they pioneer new areas of investigation.  They are essential to the research field.

The LRF’s Patient Financial Assistance Program provides support to patients and families struggling under the financial burden of a blood cancer diagnosis. The Program alleviates expenses not covered by insurance that may include doctor visits and co-pays, hospital care, laboratory work, prescription expenses, transportation expenses, and germ-free lodging for transplant recipients.

The LRF conducts educational and support programs for patients, family members, caregivers and medical professionals. These conferences, including the Treatment Options for Blood Cancer Patients Conference, the Town Hall Meeting, and Town Hall Meeting in Spanish, are offered free of charge or registration.  They provide opportunities for direct dialogue between patients and prominent hematology/oncology and transplant specialists to discuss treatment options and procedures.

Cancer is costly: physically, emotionally, and economically.  Funding research to find a cure is the only permanent solution.  The ability to translate science from laboratory research into effective therapies is vital.  The rate of progress in cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention must continue until the disease is conquered. Over six decades, the LRF’s capacity to provide these programs grew out of the dedication of countless volunteers committed to finding a cure.  Today there are 23 active chapters that comprise the underpinning of the LRF. Within these chapters, hundreds of volunteers conduct a variety of fundraising events every year to raise funds to support our programs.  Volunteer chapters are an integral part of the LRF’s rich history.  Not only do they celebrate survivorship, but they also celebrate and remember the loved ones lost to these diseases.

In addition to the important event-focused chapter work, the LRF relies on the support of everyday people from around the country who long to see the eradication of blood cancers.  Financial support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and other giving entities are necessary to reach our goals and pursued through a variety of traditional philanthropic methods including direct mail, sponsorship, cause-marketing partnerships, grants, major gifts, employee giving, school fundraising and much more.  Legions of non-chapter groups nationwide, who are intensely dedicated to the goals and purpose of the LRF, also join forces by conducting various large and small fundraising events in their local area.  The LRF is not a United Way agency and does not receive any government grants, nor derive any benefits from a religious or political group association.

The LRF maintains a modest reserve account in case of emergency, but is committed to distributing annual charitable contributions for their donor intended use in the year in which they are received.

The Leukemia Research Foundation’s leadership is made up of people who have coped with, firsthand, the death of a loved one, or have personally survived a blood cancer diagnosis themselves.  As a result, decisions regarding LRF programs and services are based upon personal experience as well as true compassion with the hope that in the future no one will experience what they, themselves have endured.

The LRF’s program performance is measured each year, in part, by the percentage of research grant applicants that are approved for funding, the desire to maintain a research to financial assistance funding allocation ratio of 80 percent to 20 percent, and to increase the number of people attending annual conferences.

Leukemia is the #1 cause of death by disease in children, and, although commonly thought of as a childhood disease, is diagnosed ten times more often in adults. Progress in the fight against some blood cancers offer some of the most encouraging advancements in hematology/oncology history.  The positive results, made possible in part by the LRF’s enormous contributions to research and education, can be seen in the survival rates for leukemia and lymphoma patients. Since 1960, for example, the survival rate for adults diagnosed with leukemia has tripled, and, most encouraging of all, the survival rate for children up to the age of five who are diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), has skyrocketed from 4 percent to more than 90 percent. Statistically speaking, if such progress is evident in one type of leukemia then it’s only a matter of time before all leukemia’s show dramatic improvements. In addition, Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer. It can be cured in about 75 percent of all patients.


Executive Committee
Andy Hanson
Aon Hewitt
Executive Vice President
Diana Orjuela
Business Banking Officer, AVP
National City Bank
Vice President, Financial
Sid Cohen
A.W.T. World Trade, Inc.
Recording Secretary
Sheryl Robinson
Society of Critical Care Medicine
Kevin Radelet (Ex-Officio)
Executive Director
Leukemia Research Foundation
Harvey and Marcia Brin

Harkin Cable Company

30 year volunteers

Harold Dreebin
Robert Grabemann
Daspin & Aument, LLP
Scott Kroman
Retired Chicago Educator
Jerry Brin
Weltman Bernfield LLC
Frank Martinez
Colonia Group, LLC
Steve Wilensky
Attorney at Law
Paul Sanders
Richard Robinson
Larry Mix
F. H. Paschen, SNNielse


Updated: 2017