Our Cause

Canary Foundation

Canary Foundation was founded in 2004 by Don Listwin, a successful high-technology executive who lost his mother to misdiagnosed ovarian cancer. Driven by an engineering mindset, Don was determined to understand the cause of such a grievous misdiagnosis. In search of an answer, he began researching scientific progress in cancer detection. Don discovered that although almost $10 billion is spent annually on cancer research in the United States, the vast majority is allocated to developing new cancer treatments and caring for patients.

Surprisingly, little funding is available to researchers investigating new ways to detect cancer at its earliest, most curable stages. He came to the realization that one of the most promising cures for cancer was relatively unexplored and severely underfunded – early cancer detection research. As a result, he made a lifelong commitment to leverage his resources and expertise to build the first non-profit organization dedicated solely to the funding, discovery, and development of tests for early cancer detection.

Don recruited Dr. Lee Hartwell, 2001 Nobel Laureate, to help form the first Canary Research Team—carefully comprised of outstanding scientific researchers from across the globe, each contributing specialized expertise across disciplines. Canary Research Team members come together regularly to collaborate and innovate, leading cutting edge research initiatives to advance the development of early detection tests. Canary Foundation has devised a simple process to provide funding and tools for team members to accomplish their stated goals at a rapid pace, with directly applicable results. Tools include software to share data, dedicated websites, project management support, quarterly collaboration meetings and project reviews.

Today, the Canary Research Teams continue to drive scientific progress through blood and imaging biomarker discovery, with the ultimate goal of translating these technologies into diagnostics tests for the early detection of cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in North America and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men worldwide. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Current prostate cancer screening strategies, which combine blood tests for prostate specific antigen (PSA) with digital rectal examinations (DRE), miss a significant fraction of ultimately lethal cancers.

Canary Prostate Program

A major goal of the Canary Prostate Program is to develop tools to more accurately discriminate lethal from non-lethal cancers, thus informing critical treatment decisions and sparing many thousands of men from unnecessary radical prostatectomy treatments. Our objective is to develop tests that can:

Clinical Studies

Canary Foundation envisions a world of simple tests that identify and isolate cancer at its earliest most curable stage. The goal of our cancer programs is to develop early detection screening strategies, consisting of blood tests and molecular imaging techniques, that will allow us to detect lethal cancers early enough to be curable. Several of Canary Foundation’s science teams have made considerable progress toward this goal. Now, they are moving their discoveries into cancer diagnostics clinical trials, where they can begin to benefit patients.


The Prostate Active Surveillance Study (PASS) is a study designed to identify and validate biomarkers that predict aggressive prostate cancer. PASS is funded by Canary Foundation and coordinated by National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN).

A diagnosis of prostate cancer is complicated by the fact that the majority of prostate cancers are not lethal even if left untreated, yet our ability to predict which cancers can safely be left untreated is far from perfect. The major goal of PASS is to identify markers (proteins, DNA, RNA, hormones, etc.) that can be used to build diagnostic tests to distinguish potentially lethal prostate cancers, which may be best treated with aggressive therapy, from non-lethal cancers, which are suitable for continued monitoring without aggressive treatment.

This study will enroll men who have elected active surveillance as a management plan for prostate cancer. Active surveillance is defined as serial PSA measurements and prostate examination with routine prostate biopsy and therapeutic intervention considered at the time of progression.

Participants enrolled in this study will be evaluated on a routine schedule of PSA measurements and prostate biopsies that is similar to standard of care for patients undergoing active surveillance to manage their prostate cancer. Biospecimens (blood, urine, tissue) will be collected and stored for use in biomarker studies.

This study aims to enroll at least 1000 participants at multiple clinical sites in the United States and Canada. To be eligible for the study, men must have previously untreated, clinically localized prostate cancer and must have elected active surveillance as a management plan for prostate cancer.

The Canary Tissue Microarray (TMA) Resource

The Canary Foundation Retrospective Prostate Tissue Microarray Resource is a multicenter, retrospective prostate cancer tissue microarray cohort designed to validate biomarkers of prostate cancer recurrence after surgery. Canary Foundation supports the six institutions participating in this companion study to PASS.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in North America. But treatment of the disease is still inadequate. Some men undergoing curative surgery experience recurrent disease. Identifying the subset of prostate cancer patients with potentially recurrent disease at the time of radical prostatectomy will allow for immediate clinical management of aggressive disease and improved survival.

The study will also identify new, candidate biomarkers for the prediction of less aggressive disease. Biomarkers of less aggressive disease will be most useful for the management of care in a pre-surgery setting, like within the PASS trial, ideally to determine which patients would benefit from active surveillance (delaying radical intervention until evidence of disease progression).

The study uses a rigorous statistical design, a variation of the case-cohort study, to select patients for inclusion in a cohort that will definitively validate biomarkers of prostate cancer recurrence after radical prostatectomy. Over 1,000 patients are selected at six participating institutions in the United States and Canada, capturing the heterogeneity of screening and clinical practices in the contemporary North American population. Standardized clinical data are collected in a centralized database.


Contributing to the Cause

100% of Balls for Balls competition net proceeds will go directly to funding Canary Foundation’s prostate cancer clinic studies. Even if you choose not to compete, please attend the event and learn about prostate cancer and research dedicated to detection of this cancer.