The American Cancer Society in Michigan will start a new initiative to raise money for women-led cancer research and inspire girls to pursue science-based careers. ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer will launch May 1.
“One in three Americans will battle cancer in their lifetime, and we need the best and brightest minds engaged in order to rid the world of this dreaded disease,” says Carolyn Bruzdzinski, vice president of regional cancer control for the society. “Recognizing the unique challenges we face, women have expressed a strong interest in supporting scientifically sound women-led cancer research.”
Launch parties will take place in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. Ambassadors will hear from society-funded female researchers who work at institutions across the state.
ResearcHERS of Michigan is being co-chaired by Kara Grasso, vice president of strategic operations at Denso International America, and Dr. Elizabeth Lawlor, Russell G. Adderley professor of pediatric oncology and associate director for education and training for the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. The co-chairs will be supported by ambassadors from across the state who have committed to raising funds, serving as role models, and building awareness of the contributions women have made in cancer research.
“One brilliant idea or concept can save countless lives,” says Lawlor. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and the next big discovery may come from a scientist funded by the ResearcHERS initiative.”
The society is the nation’s largest non-governmental provider of cancer research funding with more than $4.8 billion invested since 1946. It is funding more than $5 million in research grants for 12 female scientists in Michigan.
“Our goal is to raise $400,000 in our first year, and I am thrilled to be carrying the torch, along with my co-chair Dr. Lawlor and fellow ambassadors, for this inaugural ResearcHERS campaign,” says Grasso.
While women are making strides in STEM careers, disparities still exist. According to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2018 report, women reached gender parity in biological and medical scientist occupations in 2015, holding 53 percent of jobs. Challenges remain, however, in women remaining in the professions and reaching the highest levels. A lack of support, advancement opportunities, and pay and workload equity are contributing factors. Women make up less than 12 percent of National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center directors.
Half of the American Cancer Society’s grantees are women. The society funds researchers at all career phases, including early on and in support of early research.
Donations to support women-led cancer research can be made here. Those interested can also nominate women as ambassadors, who commit to raising at least $2,500 each to help fund a researcher and raise awareness. Companies and organizations are encouraged to join and grow the movement through corporate sponsorships, gifts, and programming partnerships.
May is National Cancer Research Month.