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IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center enters into sponsorship with Indiana racing driver Jackson Lee

IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center auto racing

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marking 30 years of accelerating lifesaving research, the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is putting the pedal to the metal through a new auto racing sponsorship. 

The cancer center will join formula car driver Jackson Lee as the primary sponsor on his No. 2 Cape Motorsports entry in the 2022 Cooper Tires USF2000 championship. Jackson, a 19-year-old from Avon, Indiana, has been racing formula cars for four years, and will be starting as a freshman at IUPUI in 2022. He is entering his second season in USF2000, which is part of the Road to Indy, and races during INDYCAR weekend events at tracks around the country, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course event in mid-May. 

“We are excited to support Jackson and his team as there are many parallels between racing a car and racing to save lives,” Kelvin Lee, MD, cancer center director, explained. “When you watch a race team compete, you see the precision, determination and the science behind the sport. That’s a lot like cancer research and care.” (Note: Jackson Lee and Kelvin Lee have no familial relationship.)

Through the sponsorship, Dr. Lee, who became cancer center director on Feb. 1, envisions connecting with the community to tout the cancer center’s research accomplishments that have benefited countless people over the last three decades.

“I have quickly learned that Hoosiers are far too humble,” Dr. Lee said. “I am looking forward to this sponsorship allowing us to share just how much cancer expertise exists right here in Indiana.”

IU’s physician-scientists have altered or defined treatment standards for such cancers as breast, pancreatic, thoracic, testis and colon as well as thymoma and thymic carcinoma and tumors associated with neurofibromatosis type 1, primarily in children, among others.   

The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was established in 1992, serves as a central hub of cancer research across Indiana University. The center has more than 260 researchers who conduct all phases of cancer research, from laboratory studies to clinical trials to population-based studies that address environmental and behavioral factors that contribute to cancer. It is Indiana’s only Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the nation’s top cancer agency, and one of only 51 in the nation to hold that status. 

The prestigious designation recognizes its excellence in basic, clinical, and population research, its outstanding educational activities and effective community outreach program across the state.

Dr. Lee also hopes that the year-long sponsorship will create opportunities for teambuilding within the cancer center. 

“The cancer center is a large organization composed of laboratory scientists, physicians, nurses and support staff, among others,” Dr. Lee explained. “The pandemic has made it challenging to carry on our sense of community and camaraderie, so it’s my hope that we can all rally around Jackson’s team as we celebrate 30 years of improving the lives of cancer patients.”

Like too many others, Jackson’s family has been impacted by cancer, as he lost his grandfather to lung cancer nearly two decades ago. 

“Cancer has unfortunately impacted almost everyone’s family, mine included,” Jackson said. “I’ve enjoyed learning about the progress being made in cancer research and treatment, but there is much more that can be done. I’m excited to help in any way I can to encourage donations for research, raise awareness about the availability of the best treatment here in Central Indiana and to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cancer center at racetracks and other events throughout the year. I’m extremely grateful to the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center for its support.”

Jackson’s goal is to reach INDYCAR and the Indy 500 by at least 2026. Jackson won a karts to cars scholarship, has won four formula car races with 16 podiums (top-three finishes) and won a Team USA Scholarship in 2020 to race in several prestigious events in England.

The 18-race 2022 USF2000 season begins Feb. 26 and 27 during the INDYCAR season opening weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Media contact: Michael Schug; Email: maschug@iu.edu

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About IU School of Medicine
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability