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Cancer research at NMSU gets another boost of local support

The American Cancer Society projects that an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases can be expected this year in the United States.


Large group with check
New Mexico State University researchers, administrators and community leaders, including representatives of the Cowboys for Cancer Research and NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink fundraising organizations, gather at the Chemistry and Biochemistry building to present a check to NMSU in the amount of $250,000 to be used for cancer research. This gift will be made available for immediate use. (NMSU Photo)
Large group with pink balloons
New Mexico State University administrators, community leaders, cancer survivors and their loved ones, including representatives of the NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink fundraising organization, gather on the football field at Aggie Memorial Stadium during a special halftime presentation at the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Homecoming football game in October 2015. The group assembled to honor funds raised for cancer research and to remember those who lost their lives to cancer. The group released pink balloons into the air as part of the presentation. (NMSU Photo)
Large group with check
New Mexico State University researchers, administrators and community leaders, including representatives of the Cowboys for Cancer Research and NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink fundraising organizations, gather at the Chemistry and Biochemistry building to present a check to the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center in the amount of $160,000 to be used for cancer research. This gift will be made available for immediate use. (NMSU Photo)

In an ongoing effort to support research at New Mexico State University into innovative methods of cancer detection and treatment, representatives from Cowboys for Cancer Research and NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink presented another $250,000 in immediately available funding to four research projects.

Tough Enough Co-Chair Pat Sisbarro said that brings the total raised by the campaign to more than $4 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2007.

?As a cancer survivor, it?s wonderful to see the collaboration in this community,? Sisbarro said at a ceremony to acknowledge the gift in one of the many labs on the NMSU campus devoted to cancer research. ?It?s amazing to see how many volunteers are involved with this.?

In 2011, Cowboys for Cancer Research and NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink announced a partnership to create a $1.5 million endowment with the NMSU Foundation to support cancer research at NMSU.

?We?ve reached our pledge of $1.5 million,? said Geraldine Calhoun, who serves as co-executive director of C4CR with her husband, Denny. ?And we?ve already started working on this year?s events, so get ready.?

One of the funded faculty investigators, Amanda Ashley in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is working on a project that will help develop more effective cancer chemotherapeutics.

?This specific funding mechanism has a significant, wonderful impact on our work,? Ashley told the gathered visitors Monday. ?We know many of the people involved in this campaign, and this is personal to many of the investigators on campus.?

Biology professor Charles ?Brad? Shuster is working on drug therapy research that could lead to more effective treatment that avoids the side effects of existing drugs.

Investigators Kevin Houston in Chemistry & Biochemistry and Jessica Houston in Chemical Engineering are conducting research that could provide a new clinical method for the early detection of tumors and monitoring patient response to therapy.

Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Shelley Lusetti?s research could increase understanding of DNA repair mechanisms that are important for chemotherapy and cancer prevention.

?The breadth of research being conducted by these talented faculty members and their students makes me extremely proud,? NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said. ?Our land-grant institution impacts families in countless ways, and cancer research is an important part of our commitment to transforming lives through discovery.?

?Money is harder and harder to come by for researchers,? said Lynn Fletcher, director of the Memorial Medical Center Cancer Center and president of the Cowboys for Cancer Research board of directors. ?I?m blessed to help run the cancer center at Memorial Medical Center, but I?m tired of saying ?I?m sorry.? We?re going to find a cure and then I won?t have to say that anymore. We live in an amazing community, and it touches my heart.?

The funds presented to NMSU, along with $160,000 presented to University of New Mexico, were raised at events and campaigns throughout the year, including the Cowboys for Cancer Research team roping and golf tournament events and the NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink football game and ?Pink Week? events.