Announcing the Tadej Pogačar Cancer Research Foundation

We are proud to announce the launch of the Tadej Pogačar Cancer Research Foundation. What makes our work different? We are focused on cancer metabolism, which we believe is key to fighting the disease, with our recent work showing immense promise. Tadej is excited to launch the Foundation to promote and support this new area of cancer research.

Foundation Mission

The Tadej Pogačar Cancer Research Foundation’s purpose is to expand on promising research in cancer metabolism, which we believe is the key to fighting the disease. Specifically, we will seek out and fund novel research targeting the synergy of exercise, metabolism, and cancer treatment, and how exercise can increase survival for people battling cancer today. We are dreamers, we are fighters, we will never give up – if it is possible to win the Tour de France, we believe The Tadej Pogačar Cancer Foundation can help find a cure for cancer.

About the Foundation

Tadej Pogačar is a two-time Tour de France champion cyclist from Slovenia, the youngest-ever win the race back-to-back, and multiple Olympic medalist. He is a member of the UAE Team Emirates professional cycling team and is ranked the No. 1 cyclist in the world. He became interested in the field of cancer metabolism after work with his coach, Dr. Iñigo San-Millán, a leading researcher in the field. After experiencing the long battle and passing of the mother of his fiancé from breast cancer,  Tadej was motivated to do something. He is proud to launch the Foundation and is highly committed to our mission and will bring the full focus and drive of his profession and brand to meet our goals. Read more about Tadej on his new personal web site.

– La Fundación de Investigación del Cáncer Tadej Pogacar será fundamental en el campo de la investigación del metabolismo del cáncer, un campo de vanguardia iniciado en 1923, pero olvidado durante sesenta años y que ahora está experimentando un renacimiento.

La Fundación de Investigación del Cáncer Tadej Pogacar dará prioridad a los conceptos más innovadores en el metabolismo del cáncer y financiará a múltiples grupos de investigación de todo el mundo con el objetivo de desarrollar diagnósticos y terapias novedosas que contribuyan a erradicar definitivamente el cáncer.

– El área de la oncología del ejercicio está recibiendo una importante atención en los últimos años, ya que los efectos del ejercicio tanto para los pacientes como para los supervivientes del cáncer parecen ser significativamente beneficiosos. El “ejercicio como medicina” puede provocar mejoras significativas a nivel metabólico, lo que podría mejorar los resultados del cáncer y mejorar la supervivencia.

– Hay que estudiar estos mecanismos por los que el ejercicio puede mejorar los resultados del cáncer y utilizarse como terapia, que no se conocen del todo. Además, la prescripción individualizada parece ser de gran importancia para conseguir los beneficios ideales como componente terapéutico en los pacientes y supervivientes de cáncer.

Dr. Iñigo San-Millán serves on the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He has also worked over the past 26 years with professional teams and elite athletes worldwide across many sports, including soccer, cycling, football, basketball, track and field, rowing, triathlon, swimming, and Olympics. He is a pioneer in developing new methodologies for monitoring athletes at the metabolic and physiological level. Since the end of 2018, he has served as Tadej’s personal physiologist and coach during the winning of back-to-back Tour de Frances. Currently, he is the Director of Performance for Team UAE Emirates cycling.


In 1923, Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Otto Warburg discovered the first transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous one, characterized by a profound metabolic disturbance eliciting exacerbated glucose utilization and lactate production (later called the Warburg Effect). During that time, most cancer research was focused on cancer metabolism. However, in 1953 Watson and Crick discovered DNA, which completely changed the direction of cancer research and the Warburg Effect, along with cancer metabolism, were abandoned for decades. Since then, the path to understanding and curing cancer through genetics has been “remarkably unhelpful” according to Watson. The lack of progress through cancer genetics to cure cancer has led to a renewed interest in the Warburg Effect and a recent renaissance for cancer metabolism research.

In 2017, after extensive work with elite athletes in the area of exercise metabolism, Drs. Iñigo San-Millán and George Brooks developed and published a novel hypothesis which they believe explains the meaning and purpose of the Warburg Effect for the very first time. According to their hypothesis, a dysregulated production of lactate by cancer cells controls the expression of mutated genes in cancer.

At the end of 2018, Tadej began to work with Dr. San-Millán, as his personal coach. San-Millán soon saw in Tadej a diamond in the rough, with an amazing physiology and metabolism he recognized could win the Tour de France. Shortly after, in 2020, at the age of only 21, Tadej became the youngest cyclist ever to win the race, and then winning the Tour again in 2021.

Tadej’s physiological and metabolic parameters are among the best ever recorded in humans. It is difficult to understand imperfection if we don’t understand perfection in the first place and through the lessons learned from studying the perfect metabolism of elite athletes, like Tadej, it is possible to understand imperfections in cellular processes that can lead to multiple diseases, including cancer. Specifically, the study of elite athletes and their metabolism has allowed a better understanding of the mode of action of cancer at the cellular level by comparing perfectly functioning mitochondria in these top athletes versus imperfect functioning in other people. “The exciting thing is that endurance athletes have their mitochondria working perfectly. In patients with diabetes or tumors, however, the mitochondria malfunction,” explains San-Millán. Without extensive work with athletes in exercise metabolism, it would have been impossible for San-Millán and Brooks to discover and report on, like Warburg already had almost 100 years ago, that the dysregulation of cancer cells could be due to a mitochondrial “injury” of cancer cells.

Drs. San-Millán and Brooks have continued to work on their hypothesis and in 2019 they discovered that lactate is an oncometabolite, capable of controlling the expression of the most important genes involved in a type of breast cancer. According to them, dysregulated lactate (not the same one generated during exercise) is a key element in cancer formation and tumor progression.

Discovering this, San-Millán’s group at the University of Colorado is focusing on targeting cancer metabolism and different metabolic pathways to stop cancer growth and proliferation (shown below), while developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics targeting cancer metabolism.

Other groups around the world are now also focusing on cancer metabolism, believed to be the final frontier to corner cancer. However, many times novel ideas in cancer and medical research don’t always have support in the beginning and funding sources are scarce. Cancer is a disease that is in critical need of new thinking, and new funding sources to continue the advancement in novel cancer research are desperately needed.

Foundation Vision & Goals

– The Tadej Pogacar Cancer Research Foundation will be instrumental in the field of research in cancer metabolism, a breakthrough field began in 1923, but forgotten for sixty years and that is now experiencing a renaissance.

– The Tadej Pogacar Cancer Research Foundation will prioritize the most innovative concepts in cancer metabolism and will fund multiple research groups around the world with the aim to develop novel diagnosis and therapeutics to contribute to help finally corner cancer.

– The area of exercise oncology is receiving significant attention in recent years as the effects of exercise for both cancer patients and survivors seem to be significantly beneficial. “Exercise as medicine” may elicit significant improvements at the metabolic level, which could improve cancer outcomes and improve survivorship.

– It has been established exercise can reduce risk of cancers, but the mechanisms by which exercise can improve cancer outcomes and be used as a therapeutic needs further study. Individualized prescription of exercise may be of great importance to achieve the ideal benefits as a therapeutic component in cancer patients and survivors.

Related Reading:Reexamining cancer metabolism: lactate production for carcinogenesis could be the purpose and explanation of the Warburg Effect
Iñigo San-Millán, George A. Brooks,
Carcinogenesis, Volume 38, Issue 2, February 1, 2017, pp. 119–133Is lactate an oncometabolite? Evidence supporting a role for lactate in the regulation of transcriptional activity of cancer-related genes in MCF7 breast cancer cells.
San-Millán, I., Julian, C. G., Matarazzo, C., Martinez, J., & Brooks, G. A. Frontiers in Oncology. 2020 Jan 14;9:1536.Why the Tour de France could be useful for cancer research
Tom Mustroph
Der Tagesspiegel, July 3, 2021Metabolomics: The Science Behind a Tour de France Winner
Drug Discovery WorldCancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease
Seyfried, T. N. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology. 2015 Jul 7;3:43.Understanding the Warburg Effect: The Metabolic Requirements of Cell Proliferation

Matthew G. Vander Heiden et al.
Science 22 May 2009, Vol 324, Issue 5930, pp. 1029-1033Metabolism and cancer: the future is now
Christian Frezza
British Journal of Cancer, Volume 122, December 10, 2019, pp. 133–135Fundamental cancer metabolism dogma revisited
Katie Marquedant
Massachusetts General Hospital Press Release, March 22, 2022Exercise—A Panacea of Metabolic Dysregulation in Cancer: Physiological and Molecular Insights
Steffen H. Raun, Lewis C. Cantley, and Craig B. Thompson
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, April, 2021; 22(7): 3469.

Molecular Mechanisms Linking Exercise to Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Pernille Hojman, JulieGehl, Jesper F.Christensen, and Bente K.Pedersen
Cell Metabolism, Volume 27, Issue 1, 9 January 2018, pp. 10-21

For further information please contact us

Support the Foundation

Help us fund the new frontier in cancer research and those now battling cancer


Follow the Tadej Pogačar Cancer Foundation





The Tadej Pogacar Cancer Foundation is a United States registered non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation (EIN 88-2721155).
Site feedback: Janko Žigart