Austin-based organizations fuel Hormel Institute cancer research funding – Reuters

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AUSTIN — Last week, the Hormel Institute in Austin, Minnesota, announced that it had recently

received $540,000 in grants

to its scientists to launch new cancer research projects. The grants were fully funded through the fundraising efforts of four Austin-area initiatives.

According to a press release from the institute, eight different internal projects have received seed funding to begin researching specific topics related to breast, kidney and prostate cancers.

“It really allows us to do work that we wouldn’t otherwise have the support or the funding to start or do,” said Luke Hoeppner, assistant professor and head of the cancer biology section at the Hormel Institute. “The data we generate through generous funds from the Prostate Cancer Research Prize or other internal awards that my colleagues have received can then be used to generate preliminary data that is essential for larger grant applications. .”

Hoeppner received the Prostate Cancer Research Award, which will pioneer prostate cancer research in his lab.

“We are interested in an important protein called DARPP-32,” Hoeppner said. “It is typically only expressed in the human brain, but DARPP-32 becomes abnormally expressed in tumors, including prostate cancer. Thus, the proposed research seeks to understand how overexpression of DARPP-32 in prostate tumors contributes to the progression of cancer.”

In past projects, Hoeppner said he and other scientists have studied DARPP-32 in relation to other types of cancers, but no one has thoroughly investigated DARPP-32 and prostate cancer. .

“He was a good fit for this in-house fellowship for prostate cancer, as it was an area related to prostate cancer that I’ve always been interested in, but never had the funds or the opportunity to study it.”

He said he hopes the research can lead to better treatments and outcomes for prostate cancer patients.

Funds for Hoeppner’s grant came from Bowling for the Battle, an annual bowling tournament in Austin that donates all profits to the Hormel Institute. Tom Gillard, co-founder of Bowling for the Battle, said this year’s tournament in March generated $51,000 for the institute.

“We sell out the tournament every year – 160 bowlers,” Gillard said. “We have a waiting list to get in, normally.”

Gillard helped start the tournament 11 years ago in an attempt to donate money to March of Dimes (then it was called Bowling for Babies). But three years later, Gillard was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I said, ‘You know, we’ve given a lot of money to March of Dimes,’ so I said, ‘What I’d like to do is change the people who get the money and charity and donate it to The Hormel Institute for Prostate Cancer Research,” Gillard said.

In its first year to benefit prostate cancer research, Bowling for the Battle raised $26,000. Over eight years, the tournament has raised $350,000 for the cause.

With his personal connection to prostate cancer, Gillard said it’s encouraging to see people researching the disease. On Hoeppner’s side, he said he was touched and honored by the community’s support for his work.

“It makes what I do day-to-day, and what our lab does day-to-day, feel valuable because the community is behind us,” Hoeppner said. “It really means a lot to everyone at the institute, and I’m sure it’s also important to those who have family members and friends who have been affected by cancer.”

The other three organizations that have raised funds for these internal grants are Paint the Town Pink, the Karl R. Potach Foundation, and the Eagles Cancer Telethon.

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