Pedal the Cause announces new grants to advance cancer research

| Written by rbruni
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Pedal the Cause San Diego announced four new research projects to be funded from the proceeds of the second annual event at a press conference held at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center on Friday, March 13. The check presentation, made by Pedal the Cause President and CEO Jim Woodman, drew an excited crowd of former riders, volunteers, sponsors, and cancer advocates eager to find out how their support for this year’s ride will lead to new high-risk, high-reward cancer research.

The second annual event, held in September of 2014, raised more than $1 million for collaborative translational research projects. The beneficiaries are the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Sanford-Burnham, and the Salk Institute, collectively known as the San Diego National Cancer Institute Cancer Centers Council, or C3. “Pedal the Cause is committed to helping find a cure for cancer—all types of cancer—by providing critical seed capital to research projects that may not otherwise be given the green light due to severe cuts in government funding,” said Jim Woodman, President and CEO of Pedal the Cause, during the news conference.

From all of us at Sanford-Burnham, thank you to all the riders, virtual riders, volunteers, sponsors, and donors who participated in the 2014 ride to make these grants possible!

Find out more about the grants funded below:


Pedal the Cause San Diego is funding $1 million in innovative cancer research including four collaborative research grants. Among the initiatives selected to receive Pedal dollars are three pilot projects and one team science project. The rigorous criteria on which the selected projects are evaluated and awarded, emphasizes collaborative, translational research that presents a clear route to a clinical trial.

PROJECT:  Highly selective, synthetic, cleavage specificity-based nanobiosensors for tumorigenic and anti-tumorigenic MMPs



Alex Strongin, Ph.D. (Sanford-Burnham) Shu Chien, M.D., Ph.D. (MCC)

There is consensus among professionals that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), the specialized enzymes produced in cancer, are a promising drug target. Despite of their urgent need and significant value for cancer patients, MMP biosensors are currently unavailable. As a result, physicians are blindfolded and incapable of selecting optimal treatment regiments for patients. To overcome these deficiencies, researchers will now be able to test the unique fully-synthetic nanobiosensors which allow the read-out of the individual MMPs in cells/tissues. As a result of this work, clinicians will be armed with a multitude of novel diagnostic/prognostic molecular tools, which can then be used to rationally design a knowledge-based personalized medicine treatment for the individual patients.

PROJECT:  Cytotoxic Breast Cancer Treatment Effects on Aging

TYPE OF CANCER: Breast Cancer


Deborah Kado, M.D., M.S. (MCC) Jan Karlseder, Ph.D. (Salk)

With a growing aging U.S. population and an expected increase in cancer survivorship projected to affect more than 60% percent of those over the age of 65, there is concern that the effects of cancer treatments on physiologic reserve may carry long-term undesirable health consequences. Whether accelerated aging affects patients diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common type of cancer to affect women, is unknown. As a result of this grant, a multidisciplinary team of scientists, clinicians, geriatricians and cancer physician specialists will conduct an integrated effort to understand what anti-cancer therapies do, not only with respect to healthy cells, but also to overall health and function. Our ultimate goal is to better understand whether or not chemotherapy may contribute to accelerated aging in breast cancer patients, and if so, identify and target modifiable factors to decrease the risk of not only developing recurrence, but also to maximize long-term healthy function and quality of life in these women as they age.

PROJECT:  In Vivo Modeling of Anti-Tumor Responses of Human Melanoma Patients and Their Responses to Checkpoint Immunotherapy

TYPE OF CANCER: Melanoma Cancer


Linda Bradley, Ph.D. (Sanford-Burnham) Greg Daniels, M.D., Ph.D. (MCC)

Melanoma skin cancer is a deadly disease that kills many patients after the cancer spreads. Current therapies are not effective, and many patients have very few treatment options after metastasis occurs. Recently, immunotherapies have been developed to augment immune cell function to kill tumors. Even though these immunotherapies are effective in some patients, many others are nonresponsive. There is therefore a pressing need to predict whether a patient will or will not respond to these drugs so that effective personalized treatment options can be offered. Pedal-funded research will allow scientists to test a patient’s immune system against their tumors to determine whether they will have a productive response with clinically available drugs. These studies will be highly significant because if they show promise in melanoma, these tools can be further applied to combat other cancers in humans.


PROJECT:  Therapeutic Reprogramming of Pancreatic Cancer Stroma Via Modulation of p62 and p53

TYPE OF CANCER: Pancreatic Cancer


Andrew Lowy, M.D. (MCC) Geoff Wahl, Ph.D. (Salk) Cosimo Commisso, Ph.D. (Sanford-Burnham) Jorge Moscat, Ph.D (Sanford-Burnham)

Pancreatic cancer remains the most deadly common cancer in the U.S. with a 5-year survival rate of 6 percent. Despite the fact that fewer persons are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than many other cancers, this high death rate will likely make it the number-two cancer killer by 2020. Researchers have identified that the non-cancerous cells present in pancreatic tumors have lost the function of two critical proteins that normally act to suppress cancer development. This grant will allow new tools to be developed by researchers to rapidly screen through a very large number of drugs in order to identify those which can restore the function of these proteins. By identifying such drugs, they can then be tested as part of a new treatment approach to pancreatic cancer.


The third annual Pedal the Cause event takes place on September 18-20, 2015, and will feature courses for everyone of all cycling abilities, as well as new partnerships with key organizations in the community. Participants can choose a one-day ride (10, 25, or 50 miles), a two-day ride (75 or 150 miles with an overnight stay in Temecula), plus a spinning option and Superhero Kids Challenge. Virtual rider and volunteer opportunities are also available to those who choose not to ride, but want to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Registration for PEDAL15 is now open. For more information about courses, training rides/clinics, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, please visit

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