As a teenager, Dr. Annette Khaled watched her grandmother battle cancer, and it was then she committed to trying to find a cure. Today, she is a breast cancer researcher at the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and is featured in a national TV public service announcement (PSA) airing on Lifetime network and its affiliates throughout October, for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The PSA, aimed at fueling breast cancer awareness and research, is part of Lifetime’s annual Stop Breast Cancer For Life campaign, in support of the network’s partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which last year donated $250,000 to Dr. Khaled’s research.
“Being highlighted nationally is a testament to the promise in the research being done here at the Burnett School, not just by the faculty but also our students,” said Dr. Khaled, who heads the Cancer Research Division at the Burnett School. “As a community, we’re always being asked to donate to research but not sure where those dollars go. So this PSA is a great way to put a face to the researchers who are working behind the scenes to find a cure.”
The video, which has the idea of teamwork at its core, features Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and teammates as well as scenes of Dr. Khaled and her students Ana Carr, Anne Showalter, Orielyz Flores-Fernandez and Daniel Nierenberg, all working in the labs at the Burnett School. Another video for Lifetime’s social media features an interview with Dr. Khaled and can be seen here.
“It’s going to take a team working together to make finding a cure for cancer a reality,” said Lifetime’s Krista Liney, who produced and directed the spot and is also a breast cancer survivor, “so we used a sports analogy to bring that to the forefront. It’s a way of saying we all need to work together, to support the BCRF and the amazing researchers who are working tirelessly to find this cure and make it a reality.”
Dr. Khaled’s research involves the use of nanotechnology to deliver a targeted therapy that kills cancer cells but do not harm healthy, non-cancerous cells, resulting in less traumatic side effects compared to most chemotherapies.
“I went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy,” Liney added, “and so I know firsthand how damaging it can be. I think Dr. Khaled’s research is particularly creative and innovative and I wish I had this type of targeted treatment when I was diagnosed.”
The new technology has generated a licensing agreement that will accelerate the therapy’s path to clinical trials.
“We have never been closer to curing cancer than we are now,” Dr. Khaled said. “It’s a team effort and my lab is thrilled to contribute to the new discoveries that will make it possible.”
“What drives us is wanting to help women and men whose lives are cut short by a disease that despite years of effort, still lacks a cure,” Dr. Khaled added. “I get a lot of emails from husbands, whose wives are fighting breast cancer, and they want their wives to be around to see their grandkids or their own kids get married.”