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Pelotonia donations yield 13 Idea Grants for The James

Bikers raise millions of dollars and ride thousands of miles as part of Pelotonia, all for the hope that their efforts contribute to the betterment of cancer treatments and ultimately a cure.
In 2012, those efforts helped fund 13 new “Idea Grants” in cancer research at the Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute that were announced last month, aimed at discovering better treatment for cancer patients and cancer prevention strategies.
The Idea Grants are awarded through Pelotonia, a fundraising bicycle ride that raises money for cancer research at The James.
“We are trying to identify the risky projects that we really believe will pay off and have a high impact so that we can really get maximal use of the riders’ money,” said Dr. Peter Shields, deputy director of OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The grants cover a variety of studies on breast cancer, oral cancer, colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. The research ranges from finding solutions for breast cancer patients who undergo cognitive changes after chemotherapy to exploring how black raspberries can help prevent oral cancer.
This year, about 60 applicants applied for the Idea Grants, but only 13 research teams were awarded. Twenty-nine total Idea Grants have been awarded over the last three years, according to a press release from The James.
All the money raised by Pelotonia and its riders goes directly to fund cancer research at The James.
Pelotonia has raised more than $25 million over the past three years, and the investment in Idea Grants has totaled nearly $5 million during this time. Pelotonia will announce how much money it raised this year at a celebration event Thursday at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.
Shields said Pelotonia helps make it possible to provide the best quality doctors, care and cancer research to the Ohio community, and that riders trust Pelotonia to use the money responsibly.
“We have a rigorous decision-making process that identifies the best science,” Shields said.
Because of the Idea Grants, Maryam Lustberg, an OSU medical oncology assistant professor, is able to study breast cancer patients’ chemotherapy-induced cognitive deficits.
More than 30 percent of breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy have reported problems with memory, concentration, attention and understanding during and after treatment, according to The James’ website.
“We are focusing on studying symptom management and survivorship, which focuses on some of toxicity that they have as a consequence of our treatments,” Lustberg said. “We are trying to find the solution for patients, either help prevent this from happening or manage better when it happens.”
Hannah Scott, a third-year in human development and family science, was a first-time Pelotonia participant this year. She raised $995 and rode in memory of her mother, who passed away from multiple myeloma, a rare blood cell cancer.
“Everyone is riding for memorial and honor of someone,” Scott said. “Pelotonia is good for knowing that you have the ability to shape cancer research. Every rider can feel the sense of hope and pride after … finishing the race.”
Scott said she believes raising funds for Idea Grants is a crucial part of Pelotonia because “risky and innovative” cancer research is exactly what cancer patients need.
“When it comes down to it, I think many cancer patients would be willing to take their chances on a lot of things if it meant extending their lives,” Scott said. “We will never know the possible outcomes of such research if we don’t take chances.”

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