Seeds4Hope cancer research funding hits $1 million mark

During an event yesterday to announce new seed funding for UWindsor cancer researchers, biochemistry professor Michael Boffa quipped that he usually has good ideas “coming out of his ears.”

“The problem is getting these ideas off the ground and finding the funding to make them happen,” he said.

Yesterday’s announcement was music to Dr. Boffa’s ears. He received a $72,000 grant to study how a protein called TAF1, which inhibits blood clot breakdown, might also inhibit cancer cell growth.  

“Without this support I never would have been able to make this project happen,” he said gratefully.

Boffa was one of four campus scientists who received a total of $294,000 from Seeds4Hope, a project of the  Windsor and Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation that provides funding for new, innovative and local cancer research projects.

The others were:

  • Lisa Porter, who received $77,000 to study the role of Spy1, a cell cycle regulator, in the self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells
  • Dora Cavallo-Medved, who received $73,000 to study a protein called Caveolin-1 and how it mediates proteolysis and invasion in the tumour microenvironment of prostate cancer
  • Elizabeth Fidalgo Da Silva, who received $77,000 to study the role of tuberin in the development and progression of pediatric brain tumours

The grants, which were announced at a formal event at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, brings the total amount the organization has provided to local researchers since its inception four years ago to $1 million. During her acceptance remarks, Dr. Porter spoke of the critical link between research and advancements in cancer treatment.

“We know that 60 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer will survive, and that’s thanks to research,” she said. “That’s cause for celebration, but there’s still so much hard work to do.”

Michael Dufresne, a former UWindsor faculty member who is the current research grants administrator for Seeds4Hope, praised the researchers for their passion, but also noted that much of the attention focused on cancer statistics is often very bleak.

“I want to tell you that perspective is wrong,” he said. “We’re making incredible advances because of cancer research.”

UWindsor president Aldan Wildeman said it “quickened his heart” to hear the researchers speak about their work, noting that one of the university’s main roles is to instill courage, love, and hope in its students and in its researchers.

“This is one of the only examples on the planet where a battle is waged in the name of love,” he told the researchers. “You’re all part of the big dream, the big hope.”