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UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge hits milestone in search for next breakthrough cancer treatments

Since 2017, the ride/run/walk event has funded 100 innovative, diverse cancer research projects

June 13, 2023
group of competitors at the uci anti-cancer challenge in 2019 wearing uci blue in front of a sign saying "this is where the end of cancer begins". the challenge has funded 100 research projects to find a cure for cancer.
Every fund raised at the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge directly supports
cancer research.

Orange, Calif. — The UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge is proud to announce the funding of a diverse range of innovative cancer research projects at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and its pediatric cancer affiliate, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).

Through the unwavering support of dedicated participants, donors and supporters who collectively raised more than $1 million in 2022, the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge has awarded grants to 28 pilot projects and early phase clinical trials, reaching a remarkable milestone of 100 funded projects since 2017. These projects are poised to revolutionize the future of cancer diagnosis, treatment and cures.

Among the newly funded projects is an early phase clinical trial led by Dr. Elizabeth Brém and David Fruman, PhD, exploring the potential of adding pitavastatin, a cholesterol-reducing medication, to enhance the effectiveness of venetoclax-based therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. This phase 2 study builds on Brém’s earlier phase 1 project funded by the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge in 2018. The study subsequently received a Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program: Impact Award of $1.3 million. The phase 2 study marks a significant milestone in advancing the understanding of how statins can improve responses to venetoclax therapy, offering hope to potentially improving treatment for AML patients.

Additionally, various UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge-funded projects include collaborations between the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and other hospitals to harness the collective expertise of multiple institutions to drive innovative research. These projects involve collaborations with CHOC and Children's National Hospital, alongside a notable partnership between Dr. Hyun Don Yun from Veterans Affairs Long Beach and Dr. Kalpna Gupta at UCI.

Furthermore, the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center's designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center highlights its commitment to integrate world-class research, prevention and the most advanced diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation programs to provide the best possible care for patients and their families. Richard A. Van Etten, MD, PhD, director of the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and founder of the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge, attests to the remarkable outcomes achieved through the seed funding.

“Since 2017, awardees have leveraged over $3.7 million in UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge grants to secure an additional $33.3 million in extramural funding. This substantial funding has provided researchers with the necessary resources to accelerate their progress, making significant strides in cancer research that will lead to improved therapies, treatments for cancer patients everywhere.”

The 2023 UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge invites the community to participate in the seventh annual event on Saturday, Oct. 7 at UCI's Aldrich Park. Whether participating as an individual, forming a team or contributing as a donor, 100% of funds raised directly support transformative projects like those announced today.

View the complete list of funded projects ›

Learn more about the UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge ›

Organizations interested in event sponsorship opportunities, contact Jennifer Sarrail at Anti-CancerChallenge@uci.edu.

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 459-bed, acute care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 21 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It is located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities, and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. Learn more about the university at www.uci.edu ›