UF Health research fund for treatment-resistant breast cancer gets lift from local charity

The Collaboration of Scientists for Critical Research in Biomedicine, Inc., presented an $18,000 gift to the UF Health Cancer Center on Aug. 7. Pictured are (left to right) Paul Okunieff, M.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center, CSCRB's Sara Palmer, Ph.D., Barb Thomas, Dave Thomas and Gwen Creel, and the cancer center's deputy director, Jon Graham, Ph.D., FACHE.When you think of breast cancer research, pink pumpkins probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But, for the co-founders of the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off charity bicycle ride, Barb Thomas and Barb Wills, raising money for breast cancer research is very serious business.

Thomas and Wills will present an $18,000 check to the University of Florida Health Cancer Center at 9 a.m. Thursday (Aug. 7) at the University of Florida Cancer and Genetics Research Building. The gift comes from the Gainesville-based nonprofit group Collaboration of Scientists for Critical Research in Biomedicine, or CSCRB Inc., which hosts the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off.

“This gift is very meaningful to us because it represents a community involvement in support of breast cancer research taking place right here at UF that honors the memory of the women among our friends and families who have been lost to breast cancer and also celebrates those who are breast cancer survivors,” Wills said.

Nearly 100 percent of the monies raised by the organization’s charity bicycle ride benefit the UF Health Cancer Center’s treatment-resistant breast cancer research fund. The fund provides seed grants to UF scientists seeking new treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that does not respond to established therapies as well as other breast cancers. As many as 25 percent of all breast cancer cases are triple-negative. Although triple-negative breast cancer is particularly deadly with a high rate of recurrence, it is one of the least studied forms of breast cancer.

Wills and Thomas both have been deeply affected by the disease. At the age of 7, Wills lost her mother to breast cancer, and Thomas is a breast cancer survivor. These experiences led the women, both of whom are avid cyclists, and other members of CSCRB to establish the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-off charity bicycle ride in 2012. Since then, the organization has raised more than $33,000 in support of UF Health research of treatment-resistant breast cancer. The gift is made in advance of this year’s Third Annual Pink Pumpkin Pedal-off charity bicycle ride, scheduled for Oct. 4.

For more information about the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-off, visit www.pinkpumpkinpedaloff.org.

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Lindy Brounley

Communications Director, UF Health Cancer Center

Lindy Brounley is a marketing and communications professional with more than 25 years of academic and corporate communications experience, specializing in strategic marketing and communications. She serves as communications director...Read More