From left to right: Kristin Artinger, PhD, Andrew Thorburn, PhD, Heide Ford, PhD, Chris Porter. MD, Scott Pearson, Golfers Against Cancer, Vu Nguyen, MD, Catherine Lozupone, PhD, Daniel Frank,  PhD

From left to right: Kristin Artinger, PhD, Andrew Thorburn, PhD, Heide Ford, PhD, Chris Porter. MD, Scott Pearson, Golfers Against Cancer, Vu Nguyen, MD, Catherine Lozupone, PhD, Daniel Frank, PhD

Thanks to Golfers Against Cancer, a gala and a golf tournament – two research projects at University of Colorado Cancer Center are moving forward.

Golfers Against Cancer and supporters gathered in July 2013 at Pinehurst Country Club for a gala featuring live and silent auctions and live entertainment. Thanks to the sponsorship of Innovest Systems, the crowd was treated to the music of Ray Johnston, a cancer survivor with a growing music career. The Gala was followed by the sold-out AutoNation Subaru Celebrity Golf Tournament.

The gala and the golf tournament raised $100,000 for research at CU Cancer Center. With this year’s donation, Denver Golfers Against Cancer will have contributed over $400,000 to cancer research. Funds donated in the first four years have helped to generate over $4,500,000 in additional federal grants.

“Grants like the one from Golfers against Cancer are really important for us to get pilot projects off the ground, to accumulate enough data so that we can submit for large grants from the government that are needed to sustain the research,” said Heide Ford, PhD.

Ford and Kristin Artinger, PhD, both CU Cancer Center investigators, received $50,000 to look at whether the expression of  a particular gene, SIX1, in muscle precursor cells contributes to the initiation and  progression of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), the most common sarcoma in children. Current therapies for RMS lead to significant life long side effects, including decreased bone and soft tissue growth, learning and memory deficits, fertility issues and the increased risk of secondary cancers.  The work of Ford and Artinger could set the stage for the development of  targeted therapies for RMS that would work better and have fewer side-effects.

The money from golfers Against Cancer also will fund the research of Vu Nguyen, MD, Daniel Frank, PhD, and Catherine Lozupone, PhD. The group hopes to increase donor tolerance to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in those with blood cancers and reduce the occurrence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The research has significant clinical implications because it could reduce or prevent GVHD.

The Denver chapter of Golfers Against Cancer was founded by Scott Pearson.  GAC is a national organization founded in 1997 by a group of Houston golfers who lost two close friends to cancer. Motivated to raise money for cancer research, the group created an annual golf tournament with a live and silent auction, with proceeds going to fund grants for local cancer researchers.

To learn more about the organization, visit Golfers Against Cancer on Facebook or check out their website at www.denvergolfersagainstcancer.org. If you are interested in getting involved with GAC you can contact them at gacdenver@gmail.com