Community Support Drives the Search for New Treatments — and Cures — at Roswell Park

Imagine that a cure for cancer can be found at Roswell Park. Now imagine that support from community members across Western New York is the thing that will make it happen.

Cancer research projects require a lot of work, resources and financial investment. Too often they can’t even get off the ground because of lack of funding. With the great wealth of talent among Roswell Park’s researchers and scientists, there are a lot of promising ideas brewing.

To help real research get started here at Elm and Carlton, Roswell Park created the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Composed of objective Roswell Park researchers and staff, the committee solicits and reviews research project applications and awards grants to those that show the most promise to cure cancer or substantially change the face of treatment. In 2017-18, $1,442,938 in seed funding was distributed among 17 projects — all made possible by donations.

While these dollars launch the very early stages of research, they can lead to much, much more. On average, every $1 given to Roswell Park for this kind of research generates another $13 in national grant funding — funding researchers can apply for with the data they generate thanks to SAC grants. Many have resulted in clinical trials, new drugs and new treatments for our patients.

Support from the Herd of Hope will enable Roswell Park to launch special multidisciplinary research collaborations in the same vein.

Dr. Mukund Seshadri, Director of Oral Oncology, leads the SAC process and is eager to see what project receives the Herd of Hope award. “Donor dollars from the Herd of Hope will support cutting-edge ‘Team Science’ projects that bring together clinicians and researchers to focus on all three aspects of cancer research — prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” he explains. “Creation of such multidisciplinary teams will enable timely translation of our knowledge gained on a specific cancer or a group of closely related cancers into novel preventive or interventional trials in patients.”

“If I ever need treatment again”

Kathleen Theal was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2004. After 10 years of remission, she relapsed again in 2015 and 2017. She is currently cancer free again but continues on a maintenance drug.

If she develops tumors again, there are only two known drugs that will work on their particular DNA, and she has already become allergic to one of them. That leaves Taxol.

“If I ever need to be in treatment again and if Taxol becomes no longer effective, there is no other drug available at this time that will work for me. A very dear friend and fellow ovarian cancer patient died recently due to this fact. She ran out of options.” She knows that donations support innovative clinical trials at Roswell Park and holds out hope that a new treatment will emerge for her type of ovarian cancer before a dangerous day comes.

Through all her treatments and during her remissions, she has felt deep gratitude for the things donor support makes possible.
“Thank you, dear donors, for selflessly giving so clinical trials, research, new treatments and quality-of-life programs can continue to be available to people who you will never meet or know. If it wasn’t for kind and generous contributors who have been led to give financially to this wonderful organization, I most likely would not be here, continuing to fight.”

© 2018 Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center