Disbursed over five years, the funds will support research to be conducted by the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO) at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James). The gift from the nonprofit Pelotonia, an Ohio-based organization that raises funds for cancer research, is the group’s largest yet, according to a press release.
Doug Ulman, president and chief executive officer of Pelotonia, said that defeating cancer, which strikes nearly 2 million U.S. residents annually, is one of science’s greatest goals. By harnessing the body’s immune system, immuno-oncology is a promising new approach to prevent, find, and eliminate malignant tumors.
”The recent explosion of discoveries in immuno-oncology has energized this effort, and we know that momentum will build exponentially through an even bigger partnership with Ohio State,” he said. “As we open the Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology — backed by a dedicated community united in our mission — we are entering the next generation of cancer care, a time in which many cancers may become curable.”
Led by Zihai Li, a physician and globally recognized expert in immuno-oncology and immunotherapy, the PIIO will further contribute to the university’s high standing in the cancer research community, building on immuno-oncology efforts such as CAR-T cell therapy, monoclonal therapy, cytokine therapy, adoptive cell transfer, drug therapy, and vaccines, said Michael V. Drake, OSU president.
There are also some 40 immuno-oncology clinical investigations underway at OSUCCC-James.
”Through the cancer center, we conduct multi-disciplinary research spanning medicine, engineering, food science, public health, and other disciplines in the health sciences,” Drake said. “This transformative Pelotonia gift will allow for an entirely new level of collaboration, research, and discovery at our university, a level only possible at a comprehensive institution like Ohio State.”
Added Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD, a surgical oncologist at OSUCCC-James: “There is much to discover about how this breakthrough research and treatment can benefit cancer patients. Pelotonia’s financial commitment and the research that will be conducted at the PIIO will allow us to make significant new strides in immuno-oncology and fundamental discoveries for cancer survival and prevention.”
For now, the PIIO will be in OSU’s Biomedical Research Tower, but will eventually have its own facilities that will be built over five years to support advanced cellular labs, immune discovery, and monitoring platforms, immunogenomics, and systems immunology.
The structure is also expected to provide space for start-up initiatives and national collaborations with schools and industry. The pledged funding is also expected to provide for 32 new faculty members.
Since its inaugural three-day bike ride fundraiser in 2009, Pelotonia has raised $193 million for cancer research.