Donor Spotlight: Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
The family and friends of Michael Rolfe understand all too well the urgent need for increased support and attention to pancreatic cancer. At the age of 61, Michael Rolfe, devoted husband and father, died just weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Like so many others, he learned of his condition after it was in an advanced stage and considered largely untreatable. Devastated by their loss, Michael’s family and friends decided that a fitting tribute to his legacy would be to find new ways to fight this disease, and together, they created the Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
Unfortunately, Michael’s story is not unique. Pancreatic cancer is most often found after it has spread, when treatment options are limited. And although the pancreatic cancer research community has grown significantly over the past decade, the field is still surprisingly small, in part due to limited federal funding for the study of this disease. In addition, the aggressive nature of the disease leaves relatively few survivors to advocate for increased federal support of pancreatic cancer research. Today, pancreatic cancer receives less than two percent of the National Cancer Institute's total research budget.
“We are committed to fighting this disease and making a difference for others.”- Judy Rolfe, Founder, Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
Understanding the urgent need for research funding to bridge the gap in federal support for pancreatic cancer research, the Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation is among a handful of private organizations that raise money specifically to support pancreatic cancer research. The Foundation focuses its efforts on supporting early detection, joining in The Lustgarten Foundation’s belief that the sooner pancreatic cancer is detected, the better the chances for improved prognosis. So it seemed fitting for these two leading research-funding organizations to join forces in support of a shared research project in the area of early detection.
In 2009, the Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation will support a one-year, $100,000 Lustgarten Foundation research award to Dr. Thomas Schmittgen of Ohio State University. The project, MicroRNA Profiling in Serum of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Patients, will provide an important first step toward the detection of pancreatic cancer biomarkers. The study will provide a basis for future large-scale studies, which may someday lead to the development of a blood-based assay that can predict if a person is at-risk for developing pancreatic cancer.