Samer Jassar

Biology student to run for brain cancer research

Third-year biology student Samer Jassar spends a fair amount of time working in the lab trying to understand the various pathways that allow cancer cells to spread.

This weekend, he’ll hit the pathways of east Windsor to raise funds to support cancer research, as well as for those struggling with brain tumours.

“I like to give back, and if there are events like these happening, then I should take every opportunity to participate in them,” said Jassar, who will take part in Windsor Spring Sprint, an annual fundraiser to benefit the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

The winner of a Brain Tumour Foundation studentship, Jassar volunteers in the lab of biology professor and cancer researcher Lisa Porter. While he’s still learning the ropes of the myriad research techniques, he’ll soon be studying how brain tumours metastasize in zebra fish, which have proven excellent models for studying how cancer cells grow, and how they respond to various treatments.

Jassar will take part in the event, which kicks off this Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Riverside Sportsmen’s Club. Participants have the option of doing a 2.5 km or 5 km walk or run, but Jassar is doing the 5 km run, and wants to do it in record time.

“My personal best is 28 minutes, but I want to do it in 25,” said the Holy Names High School graduate.

Jassar is part of a team called the Minion Rivet Fairies, which includes a number of people from the Porter lab, as well as from the Windsor Cancer Research Group, an assembly of researchers, clinicians and community partners dedicated to strengthening local cancer research programs and collaborating with neighbouring cancer centres.

Dr. Porter, who is WCRG’s scientific director, will also participate in the event, along with Karen Metcalfe, the organization’s coordinator. Metcalfe is married to UWindsor track coach Brett Lumley, and their daughter McKenna is a brain tumour survivor. Last year, the team raised $15,000 and this year members are trying to raise $20,000.

Click here if you’d like to make a donation to the team.