December 19’s AutoNation Cure Bowl at the Orlando Citrus Bowl will not only be a college football celebration, it will support breast cancer research, including the work of College of Medicine Associate Professor Dr. Annette Khaled. On Tuesday, Florida Hospital announced its corporate sponsorship of the NCAA event that will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and said it will offer a “Cure Village” at the stadium where fans can receive mammograms and other screenings on game day.
Dr. Khaled, a cancer researcher at the medical school’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, is the latest recipient – and only the fifth in Florida — to receive a $250,000 grant from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The grant will fund her work into developing new technologies that treat metastatic cancer cells, research that Myra Biblowit, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation called “seminal” at the Cure Bowl announcement.
“As scientists and clinicians, we know that what kills most cancer patients is when cancer cells metastasize — or spread — from their original tumor to the body’s bones, lungs and brain. These spreading cells are medicine’s fierce enemies because they are hard to find, hard to target and hard to kill,” Dr. Khaled said at the announcement that also featured comments by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Dr. Khaled’s lab has discovered that metastatic cancer cells contain a high level of the protein Chaperonin Containing-T-complex, or CCT. The faster cancer cells are spreading, the sicker they are making patients, and the more CCT they contain. Through this grant, Dr. Khaled’s team is identifying drug targets that can seek out these cells and kill them. Florida Hospital provides tissue samples from breast cancer patients so Dr. Khaled can develop individualized treatments based on the type of cancer. “Research is one of our strongest weapons in the fight against breast cancer, and Florida Hospital is proud to be part of an exciting bowl game that will raise awareness both locally and nationally, and raise funds for research,” said Dr. Lori Boardman, medical director of Florida Hospital for Women and a faculty member at the UCF College of Medicine.
More than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Biblowit said her organization is the largest private founder of breast cancer research worldwide, having raised $530 million and so far awarding $58 million to 237 cancer researches across six continents. The foundation has donated $1.25 million in Florida to researchers Biblowit called eminent cancer scholars. Three of the donations have gone to the University of Miami, one to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and the latest to the UCF College of Medicine’s Dr. Khaled. The foundation is the only breast cancer organization to receive an A+ rating from Charity Watch and spends 91 cents of every $1 it receives on research into breast cancer. The group plans to disburse $58.6 million this year with help from the AutoNation Bowl.
While most NCAA bowl games make contributions to charity, few include the name of their cause in their title. The Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF), the nonprofit organizer of the Cure Bowl, is dedicated to raising funding and awareness for organizations working to find a cure for cancer, said Alan Gooch, the bowl’s chief executive officer. OSF will support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through a minimum $150,000 donation raised by bowl game.
Drs. Khaled and Boardman said they hope the Breast Cancer Research Foundation will allow more collaborative work between the two healthcare entities. “My lab provides a great illustration of how the UCF College of Medicine is providing education, research and patient care in our community,” Dr. Khaled said. “My biomedical colleagues and I not only do research, we teach undergraduate and graduate students. So we are training the next generation of scientists, who will help increase our region’s economic development and diversity. And we are working with our clinical faculty and physicians at places like Florida Hospital to identify the patient challenges that need scientific research to solve.”
The AutoNation Cure Bowl will feature teams from the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference. Package tickets are currently available and individual tickets are expected to be available later this summer. Please visit curebowl.com for more information. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.