GIVEHOPE and BSI Engineering Celebrate Ten Years of Driving Research

$800,000 has supported pilot research at UC Cancer Center

Years after two personal losses from pancreatic cancer, Cincinnati-based nonprofit GIVEHOPE and consulting firm BSI Engineering are celebrating a philanthropic partnership that has funded 13 pilot research projects at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center.

Together, GIVEHOPE and BSI have raised $800,000 to benefit pancreatic cancer research, education, prevention and awareness programs at the UC Cancer Center. Their pilot research grants, awarded annually to investigators studying the causes, disease path and treatment for pancreatic cancer, are now a key pipeline for early-stage research that can lead to national funding and clinical trials.

Both organizations have dedicated their philanthropy to pancreatic cancer after losing friends and loved ones to the disease.

“What GIVEHOPE and BSI have accomplished is truly unique,” says Syed Ahmad, MD, director of UC’s Pancreatic Disease Center and co-director of the UC Cancer Center. “For cancer treatment especially, funding for pilot research is essential to launch new, innovative ideas and support junior faculty investigators. Their partnership has launched careers and areas of study at UC — virtually building our pancreatic cancer research operation from the ground up. It’s an incredible partnership that we have with GIVEHOPE and BSI, and we’re extremely grateful for their vision. It will continue to impact science and patients for years to come.”

A personal mission

In 2010, Susan Hunt’s best friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That same year, Hunt founded GIVEHOPE, a volunteer-run organization supporting southwest Ohio cancer patients and their families.

“When we first started, I never imagined what the GIVEHOPE team with the BSI Engineering partnership would accomplish in our first decade,” she says. “We were just a family hit by the unthinkable trying to figure out how to make a difference.”

Hunt says GIVEHOPE focused on funding early-stage research “to make the biggest impact we could, the fastest we could.”

Soon, the organization partnered with BSI Engineering, which dedicates their volunteerism and corporate philanthropy to support pancreatic cancer. BSI, which stands for Bryan Speicher Inspired, was founded by Speicher’s colleagues after his death from pancreatic cancer in 2003.

“We've all been touched by cancer in some way, so dedicating our collective giving to this partnership been really meaningful to our BSI family,” said Nick Long, project manager at BSI. “Our partnership with GIVEHOPE and the UC Cancer Center is entirely focused on advancing science and making a difference for patients and families — it’s about changing what's possible in the fight against this disease.”

Their partnership has launched careers and areas of study at UC – virtually building our pancreatic cancer research operation from the ground up.

Syed Ahmad, MD director of UC’s Pancreatic Disease Center

A decade of impact

white man in lab coat with blue gloves

Vladimir Bogdanov, PhD, is an associate professor who directs Hemostasis Research Program in the Division of Hematology / Oncology, UC College of Medicine.

Since the pilot grant program started, GIVEHOPE and BSI’s giving has funded 13 separate research grants spread across eight faculty investigators. As pilot grants, these awards fund research studies in their early stages of scientific inquiry — a rare source of funding for seeding new research, as such studies often need several years of data before they are eligible for larger, national funding from public or private entities.

Vladimir Bogdanov, PhD, is an associate professor who directs Hemostasis Research Program in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, UC College of Medicine. In 2009, he was a newly recruited UC faculty member, looking to expand his research into pancreatic cancer and ultimately secure competitive funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). To do that, he says it was critical to demonstrate a productive and innovative research lab and program to the various review committees overseeing and awarding federal funding.

“My first-ever grant from BSI/GIVEHOPE was extremely helpful in securing my first-ever NCI grant in 2012,” he says. “Three years later, another pilot award from BSI/GIVEHOPE propelled my NCI funding to a higher level. “

As of today, Bogdanov has received four separate pilot grants through the BSI/GIVEHOPE program—each laying the foundation for further study into the disease process and potential treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“Over the past decade, the cumulative investment of $160,000 that BSI and GIVEHOPE have made into my laboratory has helped me bring over $2 million in national-level pancreatic cancer research grants to UC,” says Bogdanov. “As we continue our efforts to expand pancreatic cancer research, their support is certain to bring closer our ultimate goal: to improve diagnosis and management of this devastating disease, helping patients and their families.”

Featured image at top: Left to right: Syed Ahmad, MD, director of UC’s Pancreatic Disease Center and co-director of the UC Cancer Center; Jenny Phillips, vice president of GIVEHOPE; Nick Long, principal and project Manager at BSI Engineering and secretary of GIVEHOPE; Susan Henry, GIVEHOPE board member. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Foundation

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