Casting Away for Cancer Research

The charity Castaways Against Cancer made two $150,000 donations to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers and have pledged to raise $1.5 million over five years.

Luisa Cimmino, Ph.D., and Martin Rivas, Ph.D., physician-researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System, each received a $150,000 contribution from Castaways Against Cancer, a charity that organizes biking, kayaking and running events to raise money for cancer research.

Castaways Against Cancer oversize check presentation
Castaways Against Cancer has pledged to raise $1.5 million for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center research.

“Our mission is twofold: to raise money for cancer research and to honor those who have fought the fight,” said Eric Pino, captain of Castaways Against Cancer.

Funding Crucial Cancer Research

Drs. Cimmino and Rivas are part of Sylvester’s Cancer Epigenetics Program and assistant professors in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Cimmino’s research focuses on how environmental factors impact blood cancer cell formation and the importance of dietary micronutrients in maintaining healthy red blood cells and limiting the progression of diseases. She’s studying how enzymes that rely on essential micronutrients play a role in preventing the creation or persistence of blood cancer and looking to develop less stressful patient treatments based on enzyme regulation.

Dr. Rivas’ breast cancer and B-cell lymphoma research looks at how cell nucleus characteristics influence malignant transformation. DNA structure influences cell behavior, Dr. Rivas and team hypothesize, and their focus is on the folds of the DNA in the nucleus as they work to understand how a cell becomes a cancer cell.

The Importance of Cancer Research Support

Both researchers reflected on the importance that this support has on their teams and their research.

“In order to secure federal funding to sustain a lab, we need to produce foundational data in the first phase of these projects,” Dr. Rivas explained. “This support will be crucial for that.”

This donation from Castaways will purchase research materials, fund the labs and give researchers the freedom to pursue novel hypotheses.

In its 25 years, Castaways Against Cancer has raised more than $2.3 million for cancer research. This is the third year of a five-year pledge to raise an additional $1.5 million for research at Sylvester, South Florida’s only NCI-designated Cancer Center.

Tags: Dr. Luisa Cimmino, Dr. Martin Rivas, philanthropy, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center