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IU cancer physician scientist bikes 225 miles to raise funds for multiple myeloma research


INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana University cancer physician scientist biked 225 miles over the weekend, raising more than $200,000 for multiple myeloma research.

Rafat Abonour, M.D., professor of medicine and of pathology and laboratory medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, wrapped up his ninth annual Miles for Myeloma in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, Sept. 28.

He and a group of fellow cyclists began in Niles, Mich., the day before. Their route this year took them to South Bend, LaPorte and Monticello before ending in Indianapolis.

Since 2005, Dr. Abonour has taken on a grueling ride — and sometimes a bike ride plus a long-distance run — to raise funds and awareness of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. In all, he has biked and run more than 1,500 miles and raised more than $2 million for research at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

Dr. Abonour and his fellow myeloma experts at the IU Simon Cancer Center are exploring how the marrow microenvironment and myeloma patients’ abnormal immune systems contribute to tumor growth, bone destruction and chemotherapy resistance.

A person with myeloma, according to Dr. Abonour, is typically around 60 years old. The cancer accumulates in bone marrow, weakening the bones and causing osteoporosis, anemia and kidney failure. Myeloma also leaves people susceptible to infections because their immune system has been weakened.

“We have to do more for people diagnosed with myeloma,” Dr. Abonour said. “It’s so disheartening that we can’t cure these people. I think the mission is to find out why we can’t cure them — and change that.”

Miles for Myeloma history:

  • 2013 Miles for Myeloma: 225 miles by bike from Niles, Mich., to Indianapolis
  • 2012 Miles for Myeloma: 185 miles by bike from Cincinnati to Indianapolis
  • 2011 Miles for Myeloma: Tours for Tomorrows: 200 miles by bike from Louisville to Indianapolis
  • 2010 Miles for Myeloma: Ride for Research: 234 miles by bike from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis
  • 2009 Miles for Myeloma: Trek for Treatment: 207 miles by bike from Evansville to Indianapolis
  • 2008 Miles for Myeloma: The Bloomington Boomerang Part II: 60-mile run from Indianapolis to Bloomington and 60-mile bike ride from Bloomington to Indianapolis
  • 2007 Miles for Myeloma: The Bloomington Boomerang Part I: 60-mile run from Indianapolis to Bloomington and 60-mile bike ride from Bloomington to Indianapolis
  • 2006 Miles for Myeloma: The South Bend Tour: 40-mile run from Carmel to Kokomo and a 100-mile bike ride from Kokomo to South Bend
  • 2005 Miles for Myeloma: The Fort Wayne Tour: 60-mile bike ride from Carmel to Marion and a 60-mile run from Marion to Fort Wayne