Pelotonia 16 Raises Over $24 Million for Cancer Research at Ohio State

A Nov. 9 celebration of Pelotonia 16—the eighth installment of an annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises money for cancer research at Ohio State—was a festive affair featuring food, drink, live musical entertainment and the announcement of a check for yet another record fundraising total.

Guests at the celebration, held at Express Live! in Columbus, were among the first to learn that Pelotonia 16, held Aug. 6-7 on assorted routes between central Ohio and Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, raised $24,104,432, surpassing the 2015 total of nearly $23.66 million and bringing the eight-year tally to $130,159,438.

Thanks to Pelotonia’s major sponsors, every cent raised by the thousands of riders, virtual riders and donors will support cancer research by being directed to four areas of use:

  • Stimulating New Ideas (millions of Pelotonia dollars have already funded more than 100 “idea grants” for teams of Ohio State faculty researchers who need funds to support innovative ideas that will generate data leading to larger external grants from outside entities such as the National Cancer Institute);
  • Investing in the Next Generation (to date, more than 400 fellowship awards have been issued to Ohio State students in many disciplines and at all levels of scholarship who want to conduct cancer research in the labs of faculty mentors);
  • New Recruit Research Support (providing funds that enable newly recruited top scientists to continue their work at Ohio State);
  • Providing Tools for Discovery (supporting the purchase of sophisticated equipment to assist all Ohio State cancer researchers in their work).

“To make progress in cancer research and, therefore, in treatment at the bedside, we must have a way to fund the big, bold ideas—and do it now, not five years from now,” said Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the James (OSUCCC – James), at the check presentation.

“Life-changing research is taking place at the OSUCCC – James thanks to the significant contributions from the Pelotonia community,” Caligiuri added. “We are thankful for the riders, virtual riders, volunteers, donors and corporate partners for supporting our shared vision of creating a cancer-free world.”

“Support from the Pelotonia community continues to inspire us as this movement grows each year,” said Pelotonia President and CEO Doug Ulman. “We are deeply grateful for the generosity of every partner and participant, whose contributions were paramount to the success of Pelotonia 16. Their collective efforts are moving us closer to our one goal: end cancer.”

During Pelotonia 16, 7,749 riders and volunteers from 40 states and eight countries participated in six routes that ranged from 25 to 180 miles.

Pelotonia’s operating costs are paid for by major funding partners, including Huntington Bank, L Brands Foundation, and Peggy and Richard Santulli. American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide are supporting funding partners. Notable partners are the Harold C. Schott Foundation, Cardinal Health and Kenyon College.

Caligiuri also announced at the celebration that $3 million in Pelotonia money has been awarded to support a new statewide lung cancer clinical research initiative called “Beating Lung Cancer – in Ohio (BLC-IO).” (Read more about the BLC-IO initiative on page 5 of this issue.)

Additionally, funding for ”idea grants,” goes to teams of OSUCCC – James scientists who competitively propose groundbreaking studies that will generate data to help them compete later for larger grants from the National Cancer Institute.

In the past six years, more than 100 OSUCCC – James research teams have received these grants awarded through a peer-review process conducted by both internal and external scientists not competing for grants in the current funding year. A total of $1.08 million will be awarded for the latest round of Pelotonia idea grants. Here is a summary of those 11 latest awards and their principal investigators:

> Understanding Potential Protective Effect of Female Hormones in Melanoma
In this study, researchers will assess the role of a certain form of the estrogen receptor in melanoma onset and progression to help identify estrogen-dependent gene targets that protect against melanoma. Investigator: Craig Burd, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences

> Genomic Drivers of Race Disparity in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
The overall objective of the study is to understand specific molecular crosstalk between numerous genetic pathways and inflammatory markers, and how that interaction influences cancer development and spread. Investigator: Ramesh Ganju, PhD, College of Medicine

> Therapy to Restore Breathing, Swallowing in HPV+ Head and Neck Cancer Patients
This project will evaluate the use of expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) in patients with HPV+ head and neck cancer treated with chemoradiation. Researchers will measure the clinical impact of traditional swallow intervention studies versus traditional swallowing interventions plus EMST on swallowing and respiratory function. Investigator: Loni Arrese, PhD, College of Medicine

> Personalized Combination Drug Therapy for Melanoma
In this project, researchers will seek to validate a computational drug-repurposing approach called Medical Doctor Miner (MD-Miner) that was developed at the OSUCCC – James. Investigator: Fuhai Li, PhD, College of Medicine

> Decision Making and Communication Among Breast Cancer Patients Choosing Preventive Mastectomies
This study will evaluate treatment decisions in early-stage breast cancer patients to assess how communication with their providers affects their decision-making. It will also examine their knowledge, preferences, and expectations about future well-being. Investigator: Clara Lee, MD, College of Medicine

> Examining Skin Cancer as a Predictor of the Development of New Internal Primary Cancer
In this study, researchers will examine the link betweensquamous cell carcinoma and colon cancer development in a preclinical model to determine the effects of the developing colon tumors on UVB-induced skin cancer development. They will also seek to understand whether ultraviolet light B-induced skin cancer influences colon tumor development. Investigator: Tatiana Oberyszyn, PhD, College of Medicine

> “Research Autopsy” to Understand Unique Molecular, Genetic Characteristics of Advanced Cancers
This team will obtain cancer cells from patients who have died of cancer and will study their genomes to determine how certain cancer cells acquire resistance to treatment, and use this knowledge to advance the discovery of new cancer drugs. Investigator: Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD, College of Medicine

> Cellular Membrane Trafficking as Targets for Multiple Myeloma
In this basic science study, researchers will seek to further identify and target specific components that are dispensable in normal cells but become essential during the aberrant clonal cell expansion that characterizes plasma cell neoplasia. Investigator: Emanuele Cocucci, MD, PhD, College of Medicine

> Potential New Cancer-Promoting Gene in Prostate Cancer
This study will define the mechanisms underlying the cancer-promoting function of AR-V7 and will identify new therapeutic strategies for advanced prostate cancer. Investigator: Qianben Wang, PhD, College of Medicine

> Clinical Impact of Genetic Mutations in Leukemia
In this study, researchers will test clinical and outcome associations of two genetic mutations (CCND1 and CCND2) known to play a role in the development of core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia (CBF-AML). Investigators: Clara D. Bloomfield, MD, Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD, College of Medicine

> Single-Molecule Studies of DNA Base Excision Repair
In this basic science study, researchers will seek to better understand the role of a specific DNA damage repair pathway–DNA base excision repair (BER)–in cancer development and progression. Investigator: Zucai Suo, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences

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