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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona is standing up to cancer

    Shane E. Bekian

    Nicolette Brown, a graduate student studying molecular and cellular biology, works in the lab of Timothy Bolger in the Life Sciences South building on Wednesday. Bolger’s lab is one of those funded by the American Cancer Society.

    Neil Patrick Harris and Emma Stone are two of the celebrities that participated in Stand Up To Cancer’s national telethon. Stand Up To Cancer is a research charity with the goal to raise money for cancer research and hosts national telethons as one of its ways of fundraising.

    For the telethon that aired earlier this month, Stand Up To Cancer collaborated with the American Cancer Society and raised over $1 million for cancer research, according to Brittany Conklin, the media relations manager at the American Cancer Society.

    “Stand Up To Cancer always gets a bunch of celebrities who have been personally impacted by cancer to talk about it, and they raise so much money,” Conklin said. “This year was one of the first years that they went over $1 million raised. It was really great this year, and I think that was due to the partnership.”

    There were about 200 different telethon viewing parties around the U.S., according to Conklin.

    “We had two in Arizona, one in Marana and one in Phoenix,” Conklin said. “These were viewing parties where we asked people from the community, cancer survivors and cancer advocates, to come out, help us raise money, watch the telethon and we kind of had a party. It was a great time.”

    Timothy Bolger, an assistant professor in the department of molecular and cellular biology, has his research funded in part by the American Cancer Society.

    “It’s important for people to realize that doing research costs money,” Bolger said. “You have to be able to hire personnel [and] buy supplies. Private organizations and foundations like ACS and Stand Up To Cancer are an important part of where that funding for researchers comes from.”

    Research is costly and many researchers are not getting the funding they used to. Besides the two stimulus years, 2009 and 2010, the UA has seen a steady decrease in the amount of National Institutes of Health grants awarded to the university, which is a problem when researchers need the funding to be able to run their labs so they can learn about the diseases that affect people.

    “The research that we are doing has potential implications for a number of different kinds of cancer,” Bolger said. “Some of the molecules that we work on have been linked to liver cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer, but the strongest link is to a type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma.”

    All the combination drugs and targeted research have come a long way; it’s not just a single-agent therapy anymore because of research that has been accomplished, according to Diane Deutsch, an oncology certified nurse at Arizona Oncology.

    “We won’t get any further in treating cancer without continued research,” Deutsch said.

    With continued research, it is hoped that scientists can develop earlier diagnostics where doctors can catch these cancers earlier in the life of the cancer, Deutsch said.

    Charities like Stand Up To Cancer are great ways to raise awareness and money for further cancer research, Deutsch said.

    “The thing [that] best empowers cancer patients to be strong is to keep them well-informed,” Deutsch said. “When they are knowledgeable about their own therapies, they’re stronger patients because of that.”

    —Follow Chelsea Regan @DailyWildcat

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