Cartledge Charitable Foundation fights breast cancer with gift to Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

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Members of the Cartledge Charitable Foundation Inc., including (from left) Robert G. Bennett, George B. Cartledge III, and George B. Cartledge Jr. visit with leading cancer research scientist Deb Kelly and Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. They are positioned in front of an electron microscope capable of viewing samples of a protein connected with breast cancer at extremely low temperatures — a Nobel-prize winning technique known as cryo-EM — at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The Cartledge Charitable Foundation Inc. has joined the fight against breast cancer with a $100,000 gift to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

The foundation — represented by George B. Cartledge Jr., George B. Cartledge III, and Robert G. Bennett, all executives with Grand Home Furnishings — made the gift to support promising research taking place in Roanoke, Virginia, to prevent and treat breast cancer.

“We make a great team,” said Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the research institute. “By supporting the world-class breast cancer research that takes place in its own community, the Cartledge Charitable Foundation is establishing a place at the forefront in the world of a relatively new biomedical field known as structural oncology in which our own Deb Kelly has become a nationally recognized pioneer. Plus, it is contributing to the area’s innovation enterprise and building the local economy — all in a single stroke.”

Deb Kelly, an associate professor at the research institute, will use the funds to support research in her lab. She uses an advanced technique called cryo-electron microscopy to study the protein molecule that results from the expression of a mutated breast cancer susceptibility protein called BRCA1.

“We appreciate the faith the Cartledge Charitable Foundation has in our research,” said Kelly, who is also a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences of the Virginia Tech College of Science. “We were the first team to visualize the structure of the BRCA1 protein, which has been linked to health and breast cancer, and that knowledge has pointed us toward potential therapies. Our work is urgent — every two minutes in the United States a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.”

The Cartledge Charitable Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1960. It provides grants for the arts, education, social services, health associations, and youth organizations.

“We have chosen to make a difference by tackling the most common cancer among women in the United States,” said George B.

Cartledge III, the president of Grand Home Furnishings who also serves on the volunteer advisory board of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “Typically, taking on breast cancer would require a philanthropic gift to a national center or foundation, but we are able to capitalize on extremely promising breast cancer research right here at home. The proximity and close relationship we have with the research institute allows us to easily visit the lab or get a progress report. We’re hoping that by making this contribution, others in the Roanoke area will realize the gem we have here with VTCRI and find areas they can support philanthropically.”


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