VANCOUVER, B.C. – The BC Cancer Foundation announced an extraordinary $4.3 million raised at its sold-out Taj Mahal themed Inspiration Gala on Saturday evening, held at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. These critical funds will support BC Cancer clinicians and scientists as they develop innovative treatment solutions for patients facing blood cancers – leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
With a revolution in next generation sequencing, remarkable advances in stem cell biology and methods for disease modelling, our understanding of how blood cancers develop has expanded tremendously over the past decade.
Now, teams at BC Cancer are one step closer to a major paradigm shift in research as funds raised at the Inspiration Gala open up a significant door for researchers to identify and develop more effective targeted drugs, or immune-based treatments that will improve the standard of care for all British Columbians.
“Our generous community has allowed BC Cancer researchers to enter the next era of blood cancer research, bringing tailored treatment solutions to patients that need more hope and improved outcomes,” said Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.
During the live auction, more than 525 guests in attendance were astonished as two inspiring gifts of $1 million were announced in support of life-saving research. Gala attendees were amazed when a paddle was raised by a generous family who gave $1 million toward multiple myeloma research. The second remarkable $1 million paddle was held high by the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation, whose gift will support CAR-T immunotherapy clinical trials for both lymphoma and leukemia. At the end of the evening, the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation donated another surprise $250,000 for a total of $1,250,000.
Funds raised will help to change the outcome for the more than 2,000 British Columbians diagnosed with a blood cancer each year. This includes five-year-old Morgan May, who is currently undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L).
“Cancer is a devastating thing for every single family,” says Kelly May, Morgan’s mother, and keynote speaker. “This year’s Inspiration Gala is supporting something so dear to our hearts that will potentially change so many lives, and that gives us hope.”
The $4.3 million raised at gala will help fuel the BC Cancer leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma research teams forward as they seek to understand the subtle differences among blood cancer sub-types, at the genetic level, and develop tailored treatments that will be delivered to patients in the clinic, and ultimately save more lives.
Dr. Christian Steidl is a world-renowned scientist specializing in lymphoid cancer research at BC Cancer. This week, he was awarded $1.5 million investment through a prestigious Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, the first Canadian awardee. The Allen Institute was established by the late Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, who passed away from lymphoma earlier this month. Funds from the gala will support Dr. Steidl’s lab as it develops tests to identify patients at risk of treatment failure to prevent relapse.
“The time is right, and we have the data and technology to translate our knowledge about genomes into tangible, routinely applicable tests that can change the lives of many patients,” says Dr. Steidl.
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The BC Cancer Foundation is the fundraising partner of BC Cancer. Together with our donors we are changing the outcome for people affected by cancer in B.C. and beyond by connecting personalized care, innovative research and opportunities to contribute. We are the largest funder of cancer in B.C. and every dollar raised stays right here at BC Cancer to advance research, enhance care and break down cancer to benefit the people of B.C.