Our Story

It Started Back in 1998…

“In 1998, I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, a disease with a dire prognosis. Leading oncologists’ recommendations varied widely, so I set forth on a desperate quest for the treatment that would work best for me. Ultimately, an experimental treatment saved my life.” —Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, founder of Cancer Commons

While that treatment ultimately failed clinical testing, Marty was among the fortunate few who responded and survived. But that only raised more questions: Why did it work for him and not for others? Could his experience help similar patients find their best-possible treatments?

Known for his work in technology development and artificial intelligence, Marty saw that countless other patients could benefit from a better way to capture and share the world’s collective cancer knowledge. So, he created Cancer Commons—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides personalized treatment option reports to metastatic cancer patients, while learning from every patient to help others urgently seeking answers.

Marty Tenenbaum, PhD
Our founder shares his vision to integrate research and clinical oncology, and how real-time, patient-centric, virtual clinical trials help everyone

We’re Here to Help

Metastatic cancer is one of the most devastating experiences one can face. People with cancer may be overwhelmed and confused by their treatment options. Or, they’ve already tried several treatments, but nothing seems to work.

Cancer Commons is a network of patients, physicians, and scientists dedicated to helping people identify and access their—or their loved one’s—best-possible, personalized treatment plan. We draw on the most up-to-date research, insights from leading cancer experts, and outcomes from patients on treatments beyond the standard of care so those we serve can be confident they’ve left no stone unturned.

Our virtual, distributed approach enables us to reach anyone with internet access, so we can help patients of diverse backgrounds find cutting-edge treatments close to home.

Why We Go to Work Each Day

Many advanced cancer patients and their caregivers lack access to high quality cancer care, knowledge, and resources. They feel left alone to navigate a vast, complex sea of treatment information. While facing slim odds, they are asking themselves, “What now?”

These are the people we want to help each day.

We want to work together, across medical silos, and surface the best possible treatments for each patient with advanced cancer.

Our Services

Cancer Commons brings together a team of nurse navigators, PhD scientists, physicians, and national experts, who combine compassion with deep scientific knowledge to help patients understand their disease and access their best treatment options.

We connect each patient with one of our scientists, who may:

  • Review the patient’s medical history
  • Research additional testing that could impact the patient’s treatment plan
  • Identify clinical trial options available for the patient
  • Investigate access to new or off-label treatments
  • Obtain key insights from cancer experts through virtual tumor boards

Our goal is to equip patients with the knowledge they need to choose their best plan of action—all at no cost to them.

  • Sincere thanks to Cancer Commons and their Virtual Tumor Board for their comprehensive analysis and recommendations regarding treatments for my pancreatic cancer. I feel fortunate to have the benefit of the expertise offered by their board of scientists, researchers, physicians, and experts in this field.

    Roy Saenz

  • What if your doctor could know what everyone collectively knew?

    Marty Tenenbaum, PhD
    Founder of Cancer Commons

  • My family is so grateful for the information and guidance we received from Cancer Commons during a particularly stressful time where a decision needed to be made quickly. We are particularly thankful for the help and assistance of Matthew Warner, who understood our need for timely answers and went above and beyond to get us that information through the incredible... Read more »

    Daughter of Glioblastoma patient

  • Thank you, Cancer Commons, for helping me find a new clinical trial.

    Cancer patient

  • Cancer Commons is truly unique at rapidly matching patients with advanced cancer with the best precision therapy or clinical trial.

    E. David Crawford, MD
    Cancer Commons Advisor

Why Us

We focus on advanced cancer patients for whom the treatment data are particularly thin and the treatment success rate is particularly low.

  • If a solution is known, we’ll find it. Our expert scientists help identify what is most likely to work best for each patient.
  • If there's no known solution for a given patient, we'll help them find one. We search clinical trials and case studies for off-label drugs to identify novel treatments tailored to them.
  • We continuously learn from every patient, sharing life-saving knowledge to benefit many others.

Meet the Team that Cares

Collectively, we have centuries of experience in oncology, medical technology, patient advocacy, artificial intelligence, and clinical research. 

Erika Vial Monteverdi Executive Director

George Lundberg, MD Contributing Editor

Emma Shtivelman, PhD Chief Scientist

Shelley Frisbie Chief Financial Officer

Leslie Jared, RN, MSN Nurse Navigator

Lola Rahib, PhD Scientist

Martha Dehnow Contract Manager

Matt Warner, PhD Scientist

Masako Yokota Director of Administration

Shan Fowler Director of Institutional Giving

Sandy Noack Individual Giving Coordinator

Jackson Harvell Digital Strategy & Design

Sarah Stanley Science Writer

Filipe Dinis Designer

Sae Yamada Executive Assistant

Patrick van der Valk, MSc Head of Marketing

Board Of Directors

Our Advisory Board

Why did we build a “Commons”?

Advanced cancer can be thought of as thousands of distinct diseases, and far more subtypes and potential treatments exist than can be tested in clinical trials. Patients who have exhausted standard options may receive off-label drugs or novel drug combinations, but their outcomes are rarely shared.

To solve this conundrum, we’re working with like-minded partners to build a Commons platform—augmented by artificial intelligence and precision-oncology tests and services—that enables the biomedical community to continuously learn from the experiences and outcomes of all patients. This shared knowledge can inform treatment of current and future patients, ultimately improving outcomes for all.

A key partner in this endeavor is xCures, a spinoff of Cancer Commons founded to scale the Commons platform to meet the needs of the entire cancer community.

We’re already applying the Commons framework in collaborations that serve patients in key focus areas. Our mission is to be the center of wisdom for everyone with advanced cancer and serve at least 100,000 patients across all cancer types by 2025.


We welcome partnerships with other organizations and institutions who share our patient-centric philosophy. Whether you would like to refer patients with challenging cases to us, or offer your services to our patients, we want to hear from you.

Newest Expert Oncology Collaborators

Pancreatic Cancer
Dr. David Chang
Associate Professor Of Surgery,
University of Glasgow
Pancreatic Cancer
Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH
University of Cincinnati
Ovarian Cancer | Uterine Cancer
Jean-Marie Stephan, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor,
Rush University Medical Center
Pancreatic Cancer
Allyson Ocean, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine,
Weill Cornell Medicine
Pancreatic Cancer
Shaalan Beg, MD
Associate Professor,
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Brain Cancer
Eric T. Wong, MD
Co-Director, Brain Tumor Center,
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

All Experts

Our Finger on the Pulse

From new clinical trial findings to remarkable patient stories, our expert team and distinguished guest contributors curate and report on the latest, most important developments in New Cancer Research & Perspectives. These stories provide valuable insights and hope for people on their own cancer journey.

Talk to Us

For help with your or your loved one’s personal cancer treatment plan, please contact us at HelpMe@CancerCommons.org. Or, call our Patient Hotline: 1-877-971-1200

To make a philanthropic gift, please reach out to Shan at Give@CancerCommons.org.

For partnerships and collaboration requests, contact Erika at Partners@CancerCommons.org.

For public relations and media requests, please contact Patrick at News@CancerCommons.org.

For all other inquiries, please email Info@CancerCommons.org.

Mailing address:

650 Castro Street, Suite 120-522
Mountain View, CA  94041