What motivates a new ovarian cancer foundation to bestow its inaugural grant to MD Anderson?
“We chose the Moon Shots Program because it gave us hope, and that can be challenging to find when we’re talking about advanced ovarian cancer,” says Buck Dodson, president and executive director of the Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation, an organization founded by and named for his mother. “The fact that MD Anderson is a world-renowned cancer center located in our hometown was the icing on the cake. It was clearly an intuitive choice for our first investment.”
The foundation recently awarded $100,000 to support evaluating genetic markers to identify effective therapeutic approaches for ovarian cancer, and another $25,000 for an ovarian cancer early detection breath analysis.
Anil Sood, M.D., professor and vice chair for translational research in Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, is a leader of the Breast and Ovarian Cancers Moon Shot. Alpa Nick, M.D., assistant professor, is developing the early detection breath analysis. They both gave Dodson and his mother a guided tour to offer a “behind the scenes” look at Moon Shots Program research.
“Our first impression was that these folks are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to changing the face of cancer,” Dodson says.
Nick was impressed with Blackie and still finds inspiration in the perspective she shared.
“She asked great questions and was insightful about the situation patients face when diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” Nick recalls.
The foundation’s mission is “to empower women with knowledge of ovarian cancer and promote innovative, promising research for early detection and treatment.” Its website includes the story of Blackie’s diagnosis of stage III ovarian cancer in 2012 despite being physically fit and virtually symptom-free. She passed away last summer on July 4.
Nick says the impact of the foundation’s gift is already evident in her research.
“The money has enabled us to validate the promise of our breath analysis in a separate group of patients with confirmed ovarian cancer,” says Nick. The next step, she says, is evaluating the test on patients without a known ovarian cancer diagnosis.