Driven to Cure

At 19 years old, Andrew Lee was diagnosed with stage 4 Hereditary Leiomyomatosis and Renal Cell Cancer (HLRCC). Determined to raise awareness about rare kidney cancers and to inspire the search for a cure, he founded the nonprofit organization Driven to Cure. Aptly named, Driven to Cure was created as a nod to two of Andrew’s biggest passions – cars and cancer awareness.

Combining his two passions in a unique way, Andrew used his beloved, bright orange Nissan GTR, his dream car with its bold license plate, to travel around the country raising awareness and funds for HLRCC and rare kidney cancer in children and young adults. Doing so, he spread hope, made impacts, and left impressions while educating others along the way. Unfortunately, four years after diagnosis, Andrew died in April 2019 at the age of 23.

Andrew succeeded in his mission to raise awareness and funds while supporting the search for a cure for HLRCC and rare kidney cancers. Since its inception and propelled by Andrew’s devotion to this cause, Driven to Cure has donated nearly $800,000, including $100,000 this year, to the FNIH to fund kidney cancer studies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

HLRCC is an incurable disorder in which non-cancerous tumors form on the skin and uterus. HLRCC is rare: It is estimated to occur in 1 in 200,000 people and affects approximately 300 families worldwide. This hereditary condition can lead to an increased risk of kidney cancer, called renal cell cancer. Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in men and women, and over the past few decades, the rate of new kidney cancer cases has been rising—most recent annual figures estimate that over 80,000 new cases of kidney cancers will be diagnosed and more than 14,000 people will die from this disease.

Driven to Cure’s donations are used to support the research of W. Marston Linehan, M.D., Chief of Urologic Surgery and the Urologic Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Ramaprasad Srinivasan, M.D., Ph.D., also of the Urologic Oncology Branch at the NCI. Dr. Linehan initiated the study of the genetic basis of kidney cancer, identified the genes for the common forms of kidney cancer, and described the pathways of these kidney cancer genes. Ultimately, Dr. Linehan and his team are developing novel approaches to treat multiple forms of kidney cancer. Similarly, Dr. Srinivasan is developing precision, targeted treatment strategies and clinical trials for patients with kidney cancer.

Andrew also participated in several treatment programs at the NCI, Yale Smilow Cancer Center, and Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center. All told, Andrew participated in 8 HLRCC trial studies to prolong his life and to further research around these disorders.

As a testament to his remarkable contributions and his steadfast commitment to advancing biomedical research for rare kidney cancers, Andrew was awarded the Foundation for the National Institute of Health’s (FNIH) 2018 Charles A. Sanders, M.D., Partnership Award, which honors people or organizations that have made significant contributions to the FNIH’s work to build, implement, and nurture public-private partnerships in support of the mission of the NIH.

Following Andrew’s death, his father, Bruce Lee, immediately sprang into action to continue his son’s formidable cause; most notably, he served as President and CEO of Driven to Cure, where he rolled up his sleeves and took on hands-on tasks, like answering calls and emails from patients. Bruce worked tirelessly and continuously, ensuring that the organization was a leading global resource on HLRCC and other rare kidney cancers, until he succumbed to pancreatic cancer in December 2022.

Driven to Cure continues to thrive, though, with the support and dedication from long-time friends of the Lee family, who have banded together to ensure that Andrew’s research- and patient-focused legacy lives on.

“Andrew and Bruce were so passionate about Driven to Cure. I recognize this organization’s next phase will be different without their leadership and their unique gifts. But—having lost both my husband and son to cancer—I am more committed to this work than ever. That is why I am so proud we are making this special gift to FNIH. There is much to still be done, and we are not going anywhere,” said Sarah Lee, DTC Board Member, wife of Bruce, and mother of Andrew and Tommy.

Additional Information

Learn more about Driven to Cure

Learn more about HLRCC

FNIH Press Releases

Driven to Cure, Inc. Donates $200,000 to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to Advance Rare Kidney Cancer Research

Driven to Cure, Inc. Donates an Additional $100,000 to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to Further Cutting-Edge Research on Rare Kidney Cancer

The Foundation for the NIH Names Andrew Lee the Winner of the 2018 Charles A. Sanders, M.D., Partnership Award

Remembering Andrew Lee