Thursday, July 28, 2016

Putting a Stake in the Ground


I just experienced a powerful example of a community coming together in the interest of making a difference in supporting cancer research. And with the help of this community, we raised over $120,000 for research in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Haber at Mass. General Hospital.  I’ve written about how individual cancer researchers in labs across the country spend up to 75% of their time on fundraising when they should be spending 100% of their time in the lab doing what they do best. I’m ever more committed to identifying innovative research in Boston, and directing funds into these laboratories. The lacrosse community in greater Boston helped me put a stake in the ground because we showed it’s possible to identify a cancer researcher doing innovative work, then educate and rally a community to support a specific, tangible project.  We united the lacrosse community, and told our donors exactly where their money would go and the impact their dollars will have.  

The lacrosse community in greater Boston – The Boston Cannons professional team, youth teams, former college players and sponsors all came together for the cause. I am grateful for everyone who played a part in the success of what the Cannons called “Cannons Fighting Cancer”.  Ian Frenette and his team put in a lot of hard work and were amazing to work with - and the Cannons also made a generous contribution.  And I’m so grateful to MGH Cancer Center, New Balance, Warrior, Eastern Bank , US Lacrosse, NHYLA, MBYLL and so many former players and individual donors who helped us, and supported the effort. The Lax Sports Network also helped promote the event through a live broadcast – and I appreciated the opportunity to be interviewed during the charity pick up game! 

Personally it was also a realization that I will continue to go forth as the Cancer Research Evangelist, with a focus on Boston, identifying promising research, and connecting with communities that can help support these specific labs. I firmly believe that we can help fill the funding gap that exists for these folks, and help free up their time to do their laboratory work. One researcher told me that just $100,000 can help support a post doc researcher in his lab, plus all supplies/reagents, for one year. He told me how important that is for him. Think of what $1 million would mean to his lab. One post doc for 10 years, 2 post docs for 5 years…you get my point. Remember, researchers may work at big institutions, but their lab is not supported by the institution – they are responsible for funding their own labs. And with NIH grants almost impossible to get (11% chance) and the time it takes to write grants and fundraise – the need is clear.  
So, I look forward to the finding the next community to help me connect with a research lab in Boston. I have a few labs in mind that are doing truly innovative work. I want to focus on mid-career researchers that are entering the most challenging part of their careers in terms of getting funding (see my next blog post for more details). I support research for ALL cancers at institutions in Boston, including Mass. General Hospital, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, MIT Koch Institute, Broad Institute and more. We are all in this together. #gratitude