The Woiner Foundation reached a milestone in its support of the fight against melanoma and pancreatic cancer thanks to a successful fourth year of fundraising efforts. In December 2016, the foundation awarded a total of $70,000 to two different groups to help fund important research and advance the level of patient care. The foundation has awarded a total of $210,000 since it began its work in 2013.
The foundation awarded $35,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Melanoma and Skin Cancer program, directed by Dr. John Kirkwood, to support his melanoma research initiatives. Under Dr. Kirkwood’s direction, more than 20 faculty researchers are focused on melanoma and leading multiple local, national and international studies that are advancing new therapies for the treatment of melanoma, a cancer that kills more than 7,000 people in the United States each year.
“The support from The Woiner Foundation allows us to bring forward new investigators who are the future of melanoma research, prevention, and treatment,” said Dr. Kirkwood. “Our trainees are now running melanoma programs from Minnesota and New Hampshire to Indiana, North Carolina, Florida and many other places in the U.S. as well as in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.”
Dr. Kirkwood has received international acclaim for his research and he leads a number of highly promising clinical trials with cancer vaccines, using biological response modifiers, naturally produced substances, to spur the body’s own immune system into recognizing and destroying melanoma.
The foundation also awarded $35,000 to the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer to support the work of Dr. A. James Moser at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
“Thanks to the tireless effort and generosity of The Woiner Foundation, our team is successfully harvesting and growing 3D cultures of pancreatic tumors (organoids) removed from patients undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Moser. “Organoids offer a rapid method for testing tumor responses to chemotherapy agents in the laboratory before patients are exposed to drugs which may be ineffective against their cancers. Organoid technology is bringing Precision Medicine into clinical practice by allowing researchers to find new treatments for pancreatic cancer that can be used to personalize treatment options for patients.”
The Woiner Foundation raised the money through its fourth annual 3-2-1 Ride event, which was attended by more than 550 area cyclists and volunteers on Oct. 16, 2016 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, and its second annual Tim & Rita Woiner Memorial Golf Outing, held in June 2016 at Rolling Fields Golf Club in Murrysville.