Nearly 40 years ago, Putnam City schools teacher Lois Thomas watched as her friends and colleagues fell victim to cancer. Somebody had to do something, and she decided she was that somebody.
So she recruited her fellow educators to join her in collecting change for cancer research. It caught on and soon spread districtwide.
This year, the school district presented the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation with a check for $73,415.
All told, Putnam City students, teachers, parents and businesses have contributed more than $3.15 million to fund cancer research at OMRF.
Students and faculty collect funds through a 5k run, bake sales, car washes, talent shows and other activities. Those funds have purchased a variety of sophisticated laboratory equipment at OMRF, including high-powered microscopes, centrifuges and incubators.
“Every year, I am amazed and humbled to see so many people come together to support this work,” said OMRF scientist and Putnam City Schools Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, Linda Thompson. “It's a real privilege to put the resources provided to work in the lab as we seek to better understand and find ways to stop cancer.”
OMRF researchers are tackling cancer from every angle with new discoveries that hold great promise, said foundation President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
From the very origins of the disease, scientists like Dean Dawson, are trying to understand how cell division sometimes goes awry, setting the stage for cancer. Rheal Towner and Jonathan Wren have uncovered new biomarkers that will help doctors diagnose and understand the shape of gliomas in the brain. Towner and Robert Floyd are in phase 1 clinical testing of a drug they think could be key to stopping the most deadly form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme. Hong Chen has theorized new ways to deprive cancers of the nutrients they need by suppressing proteins necessary for the development of functional blood vessels.
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