Paceline grants awarded Aug. 2

(Featured photo: Dr. Jorge Cortes, director of the Georgia Cancer Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University Aug. 2, 2023. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

In just four years including one with a COVID disruption, a bicycle ride has generated more than $1 million to fund cancer research at the Georgia Cancer Center.

On Aug. 2, officials with Paceline and the Georgia Cancer Center celebrated the distribution of grants to fund nine projects.

“We had 23 applicants and each and every one of them was very innovative and very spectacular. It was very hard to pick,” said Dr. Balveen Kaur, the associate director of research at the Georgia Cancer Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in presenting the recipients and describing their projects. “So, we need to raise more money. We have great ideas, but we need more money.”

Grantees included Dr. Yukai He and Dr. Siva Panda, who are working together to develop more effective immunotherapies in which CAR T-cells can penetrate solid tumors as well as remain in them longer to fight them.

“While CAR-T-cell therapy shows a lot of advances for hematological cancers, they really show very poor penetration inside solid tumors and get exhausted very quickly,” said Kaur.

Nine cancer research grants were awarded Aug. 2, 2023. Funds for the grants came through the Paceline event scheduled this year for Oct. 15. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Some grants will go toward direct research in the lab to learn how tumor cells react or develop new treatments while others look at cancer and its ripple effect including the financial burden it often brings along with it.

 “Many patients will not even tell their physicians that they cannot afford their medicine,” said Kaur.

Programs do exist to help people facing the financial challenges associated with a life-altering diagnosis of cancer, but a lot of people are unaware of them. Kaur said many of the patients seen at the Georgia Cancer Center are from rural parts of the state.

Dr. David Mysona received a grant to use artificial intelligence to “predict the development of financial toxicity in gynecologic oncology.”

The first Paceline event in 2019 raised $201,320 for research; in 2022, $400,000 was raised.

The 2023 Paceline event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 15. There are several different events including a one-mile cyber city circuit, a 25-mile, 50-mile and 70-mile ride.

Riders must be 14 years-old to participate in the longer rides. Children 13 and younger may ride in the one-mile event.

Riders collect donations, and 100% of money collected goes toward cancer research because of the support Paceline receives through the Medical College of Georgia Foundation.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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