Writer: Angel Mendez
Thursday, June 21, 2018
On Tuesday, New Mexico’s largest cancer fundraiser gifted $78,000 to New Mexico State University’s efforts to find a cure.
Seven years ago, Cowboys for Cancer Research pledged to create a $1.5 million endowment through the NMSU Foundation that would fund ongoing cancer research at NMSU. By 2016, the local organization – in partnership with “NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink” – met that goal and has continued to add to their investment at NMSU with the recent gift.
“This money, combined with an additional $97,000 from endowment earnings, totals $175,000 that is immediately available to NMSU researchers,” said Denny Calhoun, co-executive director of Cowboys for Cancer Research. “Our money stays in New Mexico to support research in New Mexico. We’re proud to do this year after year.”
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year, and more than 600,000 will lose their battle to the disease. New Mexico alone could expect nearly 10,000 new cases. Lynn Van Pelt Fletcher, board president of Cowboys for Cancer Research and director of Memorial Cancer Center, says without further funding for research, “we’re going nowhere.”
“I run Memorial Cancer Center, and this year, we have more and more patients in clinical trials while there is less and less money for research,” she said to a group of NMSU researchers. “I personally thank you for everything you do.”
Interdisciplinary research at NMSU led by funded faculty investigators continues to make strides. Dr. William Maio, an NMSU chemistry and biochemistry professor, is applying a portion of the gift to investigate and identify new chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. At the same time, Dr. Charlotte Bard, a professor in the College of Business, is partnering with the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Her research focuses on using statistics to update a critical “risk calculator” used by health professionals that estimates the likelihood of a woman developing invasive breast cancer in the near future. Another researcher from the department of chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Amanda Ashley, is leading an effort using genetic aberrations to turn cancer on itself, uncovering ways to kill cancerous cells while sparing the normal ones. An additional $25,000 of the gift will help purchase industry-grade equipment to support all ongoing research.
“While a large goal of the University is to equip and educate our Aggie students, another mission is to use our distinguished research teams to investigate today’s biggest issues and find solutions,” said Andrea Tawney, former president of the NMSU Foundation. “Cancer’s sphere of impact has most likely touched the lives of almost every single person around us whether it be through family, friends, colleagues or neighbors. Finding a cure is one of NMSU’s proudest endeavors, and we’re grateful for Cowboys for Cancer Research’s continued belief and investment in this life-changing pursuit led by NMSU.”
Cowboys for Cancer Research raises funds through annual events, including local events from roping and golf tournaments that draw in hundreds of supporters from throughout New Mexico and West Texas. Learn more about them at www.c4cr.com.