Buffalo Business Community Raises Half-Million Dollars for Team Science Project at Roswell Park

Herd of Hope’s winning research project will explore how to overcome tumor resistance to treatment
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Highlights: 
100+ blue buffalos around WNY have raised awareness and funds for research
Sponsorships will provide seed funding to launch new team science study
Winning project aims to discover therapies to prevent cancer relapse

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center today marked the completion of its inaugural Herd of Hope campaign with the announcement of the winner of a $500,000 research grant. This first-of-its-kind “team science” research award was made possible through sponsorships from Western New York businesses and is providing seed funding to begin a new team science research study at Roswell Park.

Each sponsor made a $5,000 sponsorship commitment and received one of the more than 100 blue buffalos that are now grazing at places of business across the region.

Since the campaign’s launch in July, more than 40 faculty members came together to form teams to develop and submit projects. Following review by a committee of scientific leaders, three of those projects were identified as finalists, all with the ultimate goal of launching a clinical study to test novel treatment strategy for cancer patients.

This isn’t the first time donations have supported preliminary studies at Roswell Park. Twice a year, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation awards a number of $50,000 to $100,000 grants, typically for individual researchers’ projects. Two aspects that make the Herd of Hope award the first of its kind at Roswell Park are the significant size of the grant and the fact that it is funding a project led by a multidisciplinary team.

Prior to the announcement of the winner, Herd of Hope Chair Bill Loecher shared his appreciation for the business community’s support of the campaign and the need for continued research. “Patients come to Roswell Park with a hope of winning their battle against this terrible disease. That hope is not unfounded, and is in large part possible because of the many before us who believed and invested in the ideas that researchers and scientists had for curing cancer,” Loecher said. “I’ve come to learn that these ideas will never be anything more than just great ideas without the community support needed to launch the initial studies.”

Representatives from all three finalist teams were present for the sponsor reception in the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center when Roswell Park President and CEO Candace Johnson, PhD, announced the winning project: “Improving Cancer Therapy by Countering Mechanisms of Resistance.” This study will focus on understanding how tumors resist treatment and how certain defects in patient tumors can be exploited to overcome this resistance. The goal of the study is to discover therapies to prevent cancer relapse.

The winning proposal was submitted by a team led by David Goodrich, PhD, Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park, along with team members Pamela Hershberger, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology; Erik Knudsen, PhD, Chair, Molecular and Cellular Biology; and Steven Pruitt, PhD, Professor of Oncology.

“It’s such an honor to be the team chosen to receive this grant because all of the finalists’ projects hold great promise,” said Dr. Goodrich. “My colleagues and I are eager to get started on our investigation and are incredibly grateful to every business and individual that sponsored a blue buffalo. They showed tremendous support for the promise of a new discovery and, most importantly, for the patients whose lives we hope to save.”

Kathleen Theal, a Roswell Park patient who has been battling ovarian cancer since 2004, thanked the donors and researchers for giving hope to all who face cancer. “Researchers and donors are the unsung heroes in a cancer patient’s journey, because we don't often have an opportunity to see you and talk to you. It is the donors that provide the funds that make it possible for researchers to develop new treatments and clinical trials that hopefully will eradicate not only specific cancers, but all cancers in the very near future.”

For more information about Herd of Hope, visit HerdofHope.org. A list of all the 2018 Herd of Hope sponsors can be found at https://herdofhope.org/sponsors/.

Media Contact: 

Amy Biber Collson, Director, Development Marketing & Communications
716-845-1038; amy.biber@roswellpark.org