Miles For Moffitt Raises $125,000 To Support Critical Cancer Research

April 09, 2010

Tampa, FL - In its fifth year, Miles for Moffitt has raised a total of $355,000 to support cancer research being done at Moffitt Cancer Center. This year, the Miles for Moffitt board presented $125,000 to three young researchers striving to help find a cure.

“It’s so important to help our young researchers who are struggling to secure the funding they need to further the research that will end this devastating disease,” said Karen Dalton, founder of Miles for Moffitt. “It’s all made possible through the generosity of the Miles for Moffitt participants, who are growing to more than 4,000 strong.”

The winners of this year’s award, at $41,666 each, are:

  • Juan R. Del Valle, Ph.D.
  • Yulia Nefedova, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Erin M. Siegel, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Juan R. Del Valle’s  education has taken him from Minnesota to California and Montreal, but it is the unique translational and collaborative research at Moffitt that lured him to Tampa a year ago. As an organic chemist in Drug Discovery, he is developing new tools to target many types of cancers at the molecular level.

Del Valle said the Miles for Moffitt award will help generate the data he needs to stay competitive in his field.

“It’s really astonishing to see how far the number of newly approved drugs has declined recently. Unfortunately a lot of the industry has given up on bringing new chemical entities to the market. People just want something already out there, to retool it and apply it to something else,” said Del Valle, 32. “At Moffitt, there’s a unique opportunity to fill that gap. We want to bring new molecules and develop new strategies to target cancer in new ways.”

Originally from Russia, Yulia Nefedova was a post-doctoral fellow at Moffitt in 2007 before becoming an independent investigator. Her lab focuses on finding pathways that can be targeted in multiple myeloma in order to kill these cells or sensitize them to new chemotherapies.

Nefedova’s lab is performing pre-clinical studies with new inhibitors. If this is successful, they may be used in clinical trials.

“We’re trying to cure the disease, trying to develop new therapies for patients,” said Nefedova, 40. “We hope that what we’re doing will result in new therapeutics in clinical trials and will eventually help patients. That’s what we work for.”

Erin M. Siegel has two lines of research that will benefit from this award: identifying new biomarkers for cervical cancer early detection and working with Total Cancer Care patients in a colorectal cancer study.

This award will help fund pilot studies used to pinpoint new biomarkers that will identify women at highest risk of developing cervical lesions and cancer. The money will also be used to add novel biomarkers — such as those related to body size and energy balance — to a study focused on colorectal cancer outcomes, quality of life and survivorship.

“It’s really difficult to get enough data using cutting edge and innovative methods to support your main hypothesis. This is what it takes to get that first independent grant, and this award will help make that possible,” said Siegel, 36.

About Moffitt Cancer Center

Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center  is an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - a designation that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 14 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.