By Ann Miller Baker - December 07, 2018
Thousands of runners and walkers will be taking a new course through downtown Tampa for the 13th Annual Miles for Moffitt event on Saturday, December 8. They’ll be helping Moffitt researchers take the first step toward new discoveries in cancer research.
Over the past 12 years, Miles for Moffitt has raised more than $4.3 million, funded 56 pilot research studies, and gained more than $17.8 million in additional federal support, all set into motion by its participants, sponsors, and donors. Monies raised in this year’s event will be awarded next spring, though a two-stage review process of grant proposals from Moffitt investigators. These proposals are ranked based on the quality of science and adherence to grant guidelines, and scored using a system established by the National Cancer Institute.
For past recipients of Miles for Moffitt research grants, the dollars are precious. “In research, you have to do pilot projects to get ideas started,” explains Dr. Martine Extermann, leader of Moffitt’s Senior Adult Oncology program. “For our group, we’ve been trying to see if the bone marrow changes that sometimes happen with age would affect how people tolerate chemotherapy – and whether we can predict and improve that. Miles for Moffitt grants give you enough money to get pilot data. And that allows you to get bigger grants through outside funding.”
Every dollar counts, says Dr. Alvaro Monteiro, a senior member of Moffitt’s Cancer Epidemiology program. “A lot of the studies funded by Miles for Moffitt are research questions that we’re not sure where it will lead us or projects that allow us to build infrastructure, which is not normally supported by funding agencies. Yet infrastructure is extremely important, especially when it serves patients and health care providers.”
Monteiro’s lab examines how genetic variation may predispose someone to cancer or affect the cancer’s development and treatment. He’s been involved in three studies funded by Milles for Moffitt, the first of which led to the development of a web-based visualization tool that helps providers and genetic counselors evaluate cancer risks for individuals who carry the BRCA1 gene associated with breast and ovarian cancer. Work is underway to develop a similar tool for those with the BRCA2 gene.
“It’s really important to us to get the ideas as quickly as we can from our minds to the research bench and eventually into clinical practice,” he adds. In this era of team science that leverages the strengths and expertise of many to solve problems, Monteiro says there’s room for all of us on the team fighting cancer – “not only the individuals and patients who participate in research, but also the individuals who work so hard to generate the funds for Miles for Moffitt and other Moffitt Foundation fund-raisers.”