Herd of Hope Awards a Half-Million Dollars to Winning “Team Science” Research Project - Herd of Hope

Herd of Hope Awards a Half-Million Dollars to Winning “Team Science” Research Project

How do we find the next big cancer breakthrough? First, by working together.

In pursuit of that next great discovery, this year Roswell Park enlisted the help of the local business community by launching the Herd of Hope. Each company that joined the Herd through a $5,000 sponsorship received a shiny blue buffalo to display at its location, showing the community its commitment to the Roswell Park mission.

More than 100 blue buffalos now can be spotted grazing around WNY, and today more than $500,000 has been raised for our first-of-its-kind “team science” award at Roswell Park.

Under this team science, more than 40 researchers and scientists came together to form multidisciplinary teams that developed and submitted projects they hoped would be chosen for the half-million-dollar grant. Each team’s project addresses prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and includes the launch of at least one clinical study to test a novel treatment strategy for cancer patients.

Following review by a committee of scientific leaders, three projects were identified as finalists.

The team selected for the $500,000 award is led by David Goodrich, PhD, Professor of Oncology, and includes Pamela Hershberger, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology; Erik Knudsen, PhD, PhD, Chair, Molecular and Cellular Biology; and Steven Pruitt, Professor of Oncology. 

Their project, “Improving Cancer Therapy by Countering Mechanisms of Resistance,” seeks to discover therapies that will prevent cancer relapse. While many cancer therapies work well at first, cancers often become resistant to the same treatments upon recurrence. 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 team will conduct its research through three sub-projects:

Exploring ways to block treatment resistance in lung cancer

Exploring ways to block treatment resistance in breast and pancreatic cancer

Developing ways to kill cancer cells that have become resistant to prior therapy

“It’s such an honor to be the team chosen to receive this grant because all of the finalists’ projects hold great promise,” says Dr. Goodrich. “My colleagues and I are eager to get started on our investigation and are incredibly grateful to every business that purchased 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.”

Teams began by submitting initial letters of intent. The three finalists were then invited to submit a full application. The winning team was announced by Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD, at a sponsor reception on December 12. The campaign was chaired by longtime Roswell Park supporter Bill Loecher.

Kathleen Theal, a Roswell Park patient who has been battling ovarian cancer since 2004, spoke at the event and thanked the sponsors 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.”

We know a cure is out there. The collaboration created by the Herd of Hope will bring us a few blue-footed steps closer.