Ohio State providers raise more than $1 million for head and neck cancer research

Pelotonia-Ohio-State-providers-raise-more-than-1-million-for-head-and-neck-cancer-researchSince 2009, clinicians and staff members at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have helped raise more than $283 million by participating in the annual Pelotonia bike riding event. Funds earned from the three-day experience directly support cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

In its 13th year of participation, Team Head and Neck, composed of 53 providers, family members, friends and cancer survivors and led by Matthew Old, MD, and team captain Molly Old, raised more than $117,000. This year’s contribution brings Team Head and Neck’s overall total raised to $1,396,867.

Rates of head and neck cancer are expected to increase in coming years due to the rising human papillomavirus epidemic. Research into new screening tools, treatments and supportive care will become even more crucial.

“Philanthropy will help fund research and advances to stay ahead of the curve and get to more effective therapies quicker,” says Dr. Old, professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “These innovations wouldn’t be possible without the support of our community.”

All funds raised through Pelotonia are used to support innovative cancer research, including enhanced treatments and therapies, prevention and early diagnosis methods and scholarships for cancer research. For rare and devastating cancers like adenoid cystic carcinoma, dollars raised by Team Head and Neck and through other community events have proven critical in finding breakthroughs, like using the type 2 diabetes drug metformin for treatment.

“We have one of the largest databases of adenoid cystic carcinoma in the world and are well-positioned to do research on this cancer,” Dr. Old says. “I’ve been proud to further these research efforts through the generosity of our community, including funds raised from a lemonade stand and bake sale hosted by Santino Carnevale, who lost his father to head and neck cancer. Santino alone has raised more than $135,000 to enable this breakthrough research.”

The dollars raised from Team Head and Neck have also helped support research from Catherine Haring, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Ohio State College of Medicine, into circulating tumor DNA and blood tests to detect fragments of different types of cancers.

The drive for Dr. Old to be involved in philanthropy to support research, like many of his colleagues, is highly personal.

“I’m motivated because I started at Ohio State in 2009, the year Pelotonia began, and have done every mile of every one of these events,” Dr. Old says. “There are many reasons I ride – for my patients, the community and my family members who have been affected by head and neck cancer. Philanthropy is critical in helping fund research for these devastating diseases.”