DETROIT — The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has announced the successful completion of the $3 million Herrick Cancer Research Challenge, with an approximately $5.7 million total impact, exceeding challenge goals.

The total impact includes grant dollars contributed by the Herrick Foundation and challenge funds given by donors.

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The Herrick Foundation made an initial donation of $1 million in 2009 to launch the challenge, which specified that up to $2 million more would be matched if the additional monies could be raised by Karmanos Cancer Institute over four years.

Challenge funds have supported various areas of research at Karmanos, including the Institute’s National Oncogenomics and Molecular Imaging Center, pediatric leukemia, lung cancer, new imaging technologies for cancer detection and treatment, and prostate cancer.

Said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Karmanos. “We thank the Herrick family for their extremely generous gift of $3 million and our other thoughtful donors who helped us meet the challenge. Because of this combined support, our scientific researchers can advance their important work in developing new therapies and cutting-edge cancer detection technologies, which include the pursuit of personalized medicine for the benefit of our patients.”  

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One specific area Herrick Challenge funds helped to support is in prostate cancer research. Researchers at Karmanos and Wayne State University School of Medicine are investigating this form of cancer and the racial disparities behind more aggressive and recurrent prostate cancer. They are using DNA and serum samples from patients to study the association between metabolic syndrome and aggressive prostate cancer. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that include increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels, which occur together, increasing a person’s risk of disease, including aggressive prostate cancer.

The project goal is to develop a way to detect prostate cancer early and to understand its likelihood of recurrence considering prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men. Herrick Funds also have helped to add new research jobs at Karmanos in association with this project and allowed researchers to secure additional, harder-to-obtain funding to continue their work.

“Individuals like the Herricks help us to press forward with the innovative work that we conduct here at the Institute,” said Nick Karmanos, senior vice president of Institutional Relations at Karmanos. “Our donors provide crucial support for our scientists, who are on the front lines of pioneering cancer research, and for our patients who are battling this terrible disease. We thank the Herricks for their incredible generosity and dedication to the eventual eradication of cancer.”

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute is one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Caring for nearly 6,000 new patients annually on a budget of $265 million, the institute conducts more than 700 cancer-specific scientific investigation programs and clinical trials.

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