Nearly 40 years ago, Putnam City Schools teacher Lois Thomas watched as her friends and colleagues fell victim to cancer. Somebody had to do something, and she decided she was that somebody.
So she recruited her fellow educators to join her in collecting change for cancer research. It caught on and soon spread district-wide.
This year, the school district presented OMRF with a check for $73,415. All told, Putnam City students, teachers, parents and businesses have contributed more than $3.15 million to fund cancer research at the foundation.
Students and faculty collect funds through a 5k run, bake sales, car washes, talent shows and other activities. Those funds have purchased a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory equipment at OMRF, including high-powered microscopes, centrifuges and incubators.
“Every year, I am amazed and humbled to see so many people come together to support this work,” said OMRF scientist and Putnam City Schools Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, Linda Thompson, Ph.D. “It’s a real privilege to put the resources provided to work in the lab as we seek to better understand and find ways to stop cancer.”
OMRF researchers are tackling cancer from every angle with new discoveries that hold great promise, said foundation President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
From the very origins of the disease, scientists like Dean Dawson, Ph.D., are trying to understand how cell division sometimes goes awry, setting the stage for cancer. Rheal Towner, Ph.D., and Jonathan Wren, Ph.D., have uncovered new biomarkers that will help doctors diagnose and understand the shape of gliomas in the brain. Towner and Robert Floyd, Ph.D., are in phase 1 clinical testing of a drug they think could be key to stopping the most deadly form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme. Hong Chen, Ph.D., has theorized new ways to deprive cancers of the nutrients they need by suppressing proteins necessary for the development of functional blood vessels.
And this year, OMRF welcomed David Jones, Ph.D., as head of the Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program. His research aims to “rehabilitate” cancer cells and redirect them to a less harmful path.
“Year after year, the students and teachers of Putnam City Schools show their remarkable commitment to giving and cancer research,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “They invest their time and energy to give us the resources necessary to better understand cancer and find new ways to fight it.”
The commitment students make each year is inspiring, said Putnam City Schools Superintendent Dr. Fred Rhodes.
“We are so proud of the students at PC Schools, who have taken this fight to heart,” said Rhodes. “Each of us is touched by cancer in some way. They know the work they put into our fundraisers will have an impact around the world and right here at home.”
The 6th annual Putnam City Cancer Classic will be held at Starts and Stripes Park on Nov. 2, including both a 5k and a 1-mile fun run. Registration for the 5k race is $30. Registration for the 1-mile fun run is $10. All runners and walkers whose registration is received by for the event by Wednesday, Oct. 16, will receive a Putnam City Cancer Classic shirt for participating. Runners and walkers can find more information about the race online at http://www.PCCancerClassic.com.