Where the Funds Go

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Funds raised through The Ride For Roswell support the cutting-edge research and patient care programs that benefit the 31,000 patients who turn to Roswell Park for hope.  Donations are further used to improve the patient and family experience, support new clinical treatments and procedures and educate the next generation of cancer scientists and clinicians.

Since 1996, The Ride For Roswell has made an incredible impact on cancer care at Roswell Park. In 2016 alone, funds raised by supporters like you allowed the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation to fund 26 cutting-edge research studies and 24 compassionate, innovative patient-care programs. But, until we no longer fear a cancer diagnosis, there is still more work to be done and progress to be made.

Money raised through The 2017 Ride For Roswell will help support some of the greatest and most critical needs at Roswell Park, including the following research studies and patient-centered initiatives that are some of the highest priorities of the Institute.

Fueling the Pace of CIMAvax Clinical Trials

Roswell Park is leading the nation in bringing CIMAvax-EGF, a lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba, to the United States. Roswell Park is the first and only U.S. institution to offer this promising immunotherapy and donated funds are enabling our world-class scientists and physicians to undertake this historic effort. Proof already exists that the vaccine works, but we need philanthropic support to further test the treatment for advanced lung cancers and explore potential applications in other types of cancers such as colon, head and neck, prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers. Learn more about CIMAVax.

Expanded OmniSeq TargetTM Testing

Omniseq - Candace Johnson and Carl Morrison August 05, 2014 - 58-X2Roswell Park scientists are expanding the one-of-a-kind OmniSeq TargetTM genetics test to help more patients battling cancer. The test, originally developed for patients with late-stage lung cancer, analyzes the DNA of a patient’s cancer cells or tumor and allows physicians to customize treatments based on their unique genetic profile.

Over a period of 15 months, donated funds covered the cost of 615 OmniSeq TargetTM tests for patients at Roswell Park with late-stage lung cancer. Thanks to these tests, 209 patients were able to receive personalized therapies that, in most cases, had a significant positive impact on their treatment. Because of this donor support, scientists have been able to prove the test’s benefits and OmniSeq TargetTM is now covered by many health insurance plans.

The next generation of the product, called OmniSeq ComprehensiveSM, will reach beyond late-stage lung cancer to address other disease sites, such as breast, colon and melanoma. In comparison with OmniSeq TargetTM, the new test analyzes 144 cancer-associated genes versus the previous 23, and detects and reports over 500 actionable genomic variants – versus the only 67 variants detected using the original OmniSeq TargetTM.

While OmniSeq ComprehensiveSM may lead to lifesaving therapies, insurance providers will not cover the cost of the test for other cancers outside of advanced lung cancer at this time without clinical evidence of its success. Donations are needed to cover the cost of this advanced test, so that all individuals who could benefit from OmniSeq ComprehensiveSM have access to it, and so Roswell Park can collect the data that insurance providers are seeking to include the test in their member coverage.

Advancing Immunotherapy Studies

Immunotherapy — using the power of the immune system to fight cancer — is an exciting expanding area of scientific research. This method holds the promise of destroying cancer cells more effectively, while also preventing recurrences of the disease. Your support will:

  • Advance the national testing of two new immunotherapy vaccines led by Roswell Park physicians for the treatment of ovarian and brain cancer, diseases that are often fatal and difficult to treat; and
  • Help advance the development of other promising immunotherapies.

Establishing A Survivorship Program

Up to 80 percent of cancer survivors require additional support beyond their treatment. To address those needs and help patients, Roswell Park is developing a new survivorship program to provide a wide array of services, from annual cancer surveillance visits, to symptom management, nutrition support, rehabilitation, counseling and complementary medicine. Funded entirely by donations, the Survivorship Program will also provide educational materials to patients as they navigate their journey from diagnosis to active treatment and survivorship.

Developing New Clinical Trials

Donations are needed to fund physician-investigated clinical trials that will test new, promising medical treatments and make them available for patients as quickly as possible. Roswell Park’s Clinical Research Center is one of first centers in the country dedicated exclusively to clinical trials and the development of new treatments. The funds you raise will help speed up the process and help make new, lifesaving treatments available to patients here and around the world as quickly as possible.

Robotic Surgery Center

Roswell Park is regarded as a global leader in the field of robotic-assisted surgery, but donations are needed to continue growing and developing the program. Under the leadership of Khurshid Guru, MD, the Applied Technology Laboratory for Advanced Surgery (ATLAS) program is committed to advancing its techniques to improved quality of life and patient outcomes and to expose tomorrow’s physicians to the vast career opportunities related to medical technology.

  • Junior Robotic Surgery Challenge: Developed by ATLAS, this four-week educational summer program and scholarship opportunity for high school students to be trained in the use of the surgical robot and other medical devices alongside experienced nurses, physician assistants and surgeons. With continued donor support, students who otherwise could not afford to participate will gain hands-on career experience.
  • Interactive Patient Education Program (IPEP): Donations are needed for the ATLAS team to develop an a comprehensive educational resource comprised of books, booklets, tools and apps to guide patients with bladder cancer about their diagnosis and what to expect during treatment. Once developed, the program apps will be available at no cost through digital marketplaces for Apple and Android devices.

Disease Site Research Groups (DSRGs)

Roswell Park is committed to furthering research for all types of cancers. But to do so, funds are needed to advance the research efforts in specific disease sites, such as breast, lung or leukemia. Groups of doctors and scientists combine their clinical and scientific expertise to identify the most pressing research needs for specific disease sites. This collaborative research method allows these groups to focus on both scientific breakthroughs as well as the ease with which those treatments can be integrated into the day-to-day care of Roswell Park’s patients.

These multidisciplinary groups submit their research ideas which then undergo an internal review process, where an objective committee awards funding to one proposal from each disease site that demonstrates the most promise to save lives.

Reaching Underserved Populations

Donations to this initiative will fund cancer screening, education and outreach efforts for Western New York individuals who are at a high-risk of cancer and are medically underserved. With contributions from the community, we will educate individuals on cancer prevention and early detection, and work to improve the rate of screening among communities that are less likely to have access to routine health exams and testing.

Starting New, Promising Research Initiatives: Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Awards

Many of the world-class scientists at Roswell Park have new research ideas that could change the course of cancer treatment and lead to cancer cures. But without funding, their ideas would never get off the ground. Donations to this initiative will provide seed funding for these new projects, and can be made to fund research for a specific type of cancer. Twice per year, researchers submit their applications to compete for donated funds, and an internal, objective committee decides what projects receive funding.

Supporting our Pediatric Patients

The world-renowned physicians and researchers at Roswell Park often have ideas that could change the course of cancer treatment for children and lead to cancer cures. But, without funding, their ideas would never get off the ground. That’s where Carly’s Club — and its supporters — come in. Donations that are made to Carly’s Club allow researchers to take an idea they have and turn it into a reality, so that more lives can be saved.

Funded entirely by donor dollars, the Carly’s Club program at Roswell Park also exists to provide year-round support for patients and families facing childhood cancer. In addition to raising funds for pediatric cancer research, Carly’s Club provides diversionary events and activities year round, such as holiday parties and outings to sporting events for the patient’s entire family to help take attention away from the stresses and anxiety of cancer treatment. Thanks to donations, Carly’s Club also provides psychosocial support, such as counseling and play therapy resources, to help maintain the emotional and mental wellbeing of patients and their families.

Quality of Life Fund

Many individuals who are battling cancer are going through one of the most difficult times of their lives. To help ease their cancer journeys, donations are needed to provide Roswell Park patients with essential quality-of-life programs that lend an extra helping hand, give emotional support and provide creative, diversionary outlets to patients and their families. Funded entirely by donations, such programs include Roswell Park’s wig and hat boutique, inpatient comfort kits and the Artists-in-Residence program. Proposals to develop or continue quality-of-life programs are accepted once a year and an objective committee comprised of representatives from various Roswell Park departments decides which programs will receive funding.

From the Researchers

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Money that was raised through events like The Ride For Roswell have allowed my colleagues and me to develop a first-of-its-kind cancer vaccine, SurVaxM. We’ve just completed testing the vaccine in brain cancer patients during a phase I trial, and the vaccine showed great promise. Now, we’re moving on to a multisite, phase II trial, which is being funded entirely by donor dollars. But, without the initial support from our donors and fundraisers, this project never would have gotten off the ground. Thank you for your support!

-Dr. Robert Fenstermaker, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program 
Hear from Dr. Fenstermaker and a patient about this lifesaving research.


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Thanks to Ride For Roswell participants, I recently received funding for a new research project. These research grants are awarded after an internal, peer-reviewed competition, and only the most promising early-stage projects receive funding. My study will focus on molecular changes that may cause lung patients to not respond to cancer treatment. Long-term, we hope to find ways to correct or compensate for those changes so that more lives can be saved.

-Dr. Grace Dy, Associate Professor of Oncology 
Learn more about Dr. Dy’s personalized lung cancer care.


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My research was only able to advance because of fundraising events like The Ride For Roswell. Now, because of that early support, I’ve received a number of prestigious grants to help bring new immune therapies to patients with ovarian cancer, a disease that is often very hard to treat. We recently focused on taking stem cells from patient’s blood, re-engineering them and infusing them back into the patients. These reprogrammed cells then become a continuous, potentially lifesaving source of cancer-fighting immune cells. This strategy has proven successful in preclinical studies as a way to eradicate existing cancer and to prevent new cancer cells from developing.

-Dr. Kunle Odunsi, Roswell Park Deputy Director
Find out how your support helped fast-track Dr. Odunsi’s research.


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Funds raised by The Ride For Roswell are helping patients who are in need of financial assistance pay for a potentially life-saving test, OmniSeq Target™. Roswell Park is now offering this state-of-the-art genetic test to treat patients with advanced lung cancer and metastatic melanoma. The test analyzes a patient’s tumor DNA, specifically looking at 23 cancer-associated genes that are directly related to new and better therapies called targeted therapies. Our physicians can then customize a patient’s therapy based on their tumor’s unique, genetic profile. These targeted drugs are more effective and have less side effects than traditional chemotherapy and radiation. Thank you for being a Ride For Roswell supporter and helping these patients!

Dr. Carl Morrison, Executive Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine
See how Dr. Morrison’s research saved this patient’s life.


Click here for more examples of how your support is helping Roswell Park to find cancer cures and save lives.