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Former IU basketball standout donates $15,000 to IU Simon Cancer Center


INDIANAPOLIS – A former Indiana University basketball standout Monday donated $15,000 to breast cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Victor Oladipo, now a guard with the Orlando Magic, donated a share of his winnings from the recent Dunk Cancer social media fundraiser as part of the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend.

“It’s an honor and a blessing to be able to give back first and foremost to the Indiana University family,” Oladipo said Monday evening. “I felt it was my duty and obligation to give back to this community. What better way to do it than through cancer research.”

Oladipo’s contribution will be used for the cancer center’s breast cancer research program, which is composed of 35 Indiana University faculty members. The IU Simon Cancer Center’s breast cancer research team is the only one in Indiana that combines both laboratory research and patient-care expertise and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center in the state that treats patients.

Gifts to the program support the development of new research that is difficult to finance because of the decline in federal research grant funding.

“New treatments and prevention strategies are only made possible by painstaking research that begins in the laboratory and expands to patient care,” said Kathy Miller, M.D., the program’s co-director. “As grateful as my colleagues and I are to treat women with this horrible disease, we know the importance of research because it cures breast cancer.”

Harikrishna Nakshatri, Ph.D., the program’s other co-director, added: “Just as it takes a team of athletes with distinct, yet complementary, styles to achieve basketball excellence, so too does it take a diverse team of researchers pursuing a common goal to beat breast cancer.”

A few highlights from the breast cancer research program include:

·    Triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive and deadly form of breast cancer, will be the target of a clinical trial opening this year that utilizes two new drugs simultaneously to attack highly active genes that help the tumor grow and spread. Laboratory studies have been funded entirely with philanthropy.  

·    Many breast tumors are fueled by the hormone estrogen. Anti-estrogen therapies are highly effective in managing this type of disease. However, many women will relapse after years on this therapy. IU researchers have identified a gene that is involved in the late recurrence of breast cancer and are now attempting to identify a “druggable target” to develop a treatment.

Also of note, the cancer center is home to the Komen Tissue Bank, the only normal breast tissue bio-repository of its kind in the world. By using samples from women without breast cancer, researchers will be able to determine the differences between healthy and cancerous tissues, which will lead to a better understanding of the disease. Researchers from Purdue University, Mayo Clinic, the National Cancer Institute, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Dana-Farber/Harvard University, Breakthrough Research Centre at The Royal Marsden Hospital (UK), and the University of Queensland in Australia have turned to the bank for samples.

Oladipo is also sharing his winnings with the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute in Orlando.