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Charlottesville: Fund reaching out to promote early cancer research

Story by Chris Graham

They are the ones who are the most affected by cancer and what it can do. They know how important it is to try to get ahead of cancer to beat it before it can do its damage. And they are starting to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel because of important advances in cancer research that they are helping bring to fruition.

“We’re so lucky here in this area to have an institution like UVa. doing the kind of work that they’re doing. That is one of the reasons that we’re trying to appeal to the community to become partners with us in helping us support this early-stage research. I really believe wonderful things are happening right now. I think the technology with computers and all of the wonderful things that are happening in today’s world is really speeding up the process in the work that is being done in the cancer area,” said Melba Campbell, the co-chair of the steering committee of the Patients and Families Research Fund, which was founded in 2000 to provide seed money to support cancer research.

“And what I mean by seed money is this is money that is given to support very-early-stage research, so we can get it started, let a concept become a reality, and then they can take it to bigger funding mechanisms such as (the National Institutes of Health,” Campbell said.

The Patients and Families Research Fund has contributed $3 million toward groundbreaking research including ongoing research at the University of Virginia regarding the use of so-called medicinal plants to fight breast cancer.

The Fund is hosting a panel discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 8 a.m. at Alumni Hall at UVa. that will include a presentation on that research by UVa. microbiology professor Deborah Lannigan. Also on the schedule for the event are UVa. Cancer Center deputy director Paula Fracasso, who will discuss “The Who, What and Why of Clinical Trials,” and William Steers, the chair of the Department of Urology at UVa., who will talk on “Robotic Prostatectomy – The Future is Today!”

The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 434.924.8432 or e-mailing

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