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 nearly 34,000 patients who turn to Roswell Park for hope each year.  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.

Advancing Personalized Medicine

Current FDA-approved immunotherapy drugs are generating remarkable results. Up to 30 percent of patients receiving checkpoint inhibitors show a response to these drugs. But for patients who fail to respond, this valuable time spent undergoing unnecessary treatments could have been used to pursue other potentially lifesaving treatment options.

OmniSeq, a Roswell Park partner, is developing a cutting-edge test called Immune Report Card that measures the probability of a patient’s response to immunotherapy drugs for advanced stage melanoma, kidney, lung and renal cell cancers. By evaluating key indicators for the patient’s positive or negative response, providers can better determine whether a patient may stand to benefit from immunotherapies or if other treatments should be considered.

While the test may help patients avoid unnecessary treatments and save lives, insurance providers will want to see clinical evidence of its success in impacting patient care. Donations are needed to cover the cost of the test so that all individuals who could benefit from it have access to it, and so Roswell Park can collect the data that insurance providers are seeking to justify the inclusion of this test in its members’ policies going forward.

Advancing Immunotherapy Studies

Immunotherapy — harnessing the body’s 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. Roswell Park is a leader in immunotherapy studies, but progress could be stalled without donor support. In addition to developing new promising immunotherapies, your support will help advance two significant immunotherapy studies at Roswell Park:

  • Funded entirely by donations, a multisite phase II clinical study is underway for a lifesaving brain cancer vaccine called SurVaxM. Developed at Roswell Park by Robert Fenstermaker, MD, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, the vaccine is giving hope to 50 clinical study participants with newly diagnosed glioblastoma — an aggressive and often deadly type of brain tumor.
  • Donor support is needed to continue work on a promising, nationwide ovarian cancer research initiative led by Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG. The research involves three groundbreaking projects evaluating next-generation immunotherapies. Each project is driven by a Phase I/II clinical trial testing efficacy and patient outcomes from the immunotherapies developed by Dr. Odunsi and his team in Roswell Park’s Center for Immunotherapy.

Providing Survivorship & Supportive Care Programs

Cancer survivorship begins at the time of diagnosis, and up to 80 percent of cancer survivors require additional support beyond their treatment. To address these needs, Roswell Park is seeking donor support to fund its survivorship and supportive care programs.

  • Roswell Park’s Survivorship Program provides a wide array of services to patients as they navigate their journey from diagnosis to active treatment and survivorship, such as annual cancer surveillance visits, nutrition support, rehabilitation, counseling and complementary medicine.
  • A comprehensive Supportive and Palliative Care Program will allow Roswell Park to help patients maintain optimal quality of life by relieving the symptoms, pain and stress that may come at any stage of their disease.

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

At Roswell Park, we understand that children, teens and young adults with cancer require specialized care, and your support will enable us to meet the unique needs of our youngest patients.

  • Carly’s Club at Roswell Park: Carly’s Club offers support programs to make life more manageable for children battling cancer and for their families, and to raise funds for research at Roswell Park. Your support will enable researchers to take ideas that could change the course of treatment for children and turn them into a reality so that more lives can be saved.
  • Pediatric Wellness Program: A patient’s overall health and wellness is critical to their ability to fight their disease. To help manage symptoms, improve quality of life and avoid preventable hospital stays, Roswell Park is developing a Pediatric Wellness Program to provide nutrition education and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and reflexology. Your support will allow Roswell Park to offer these integrated services free of charge to pediatric and AYA (adolescent and young adult) patients at their point of care.

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.