Local Employee Community Fund board makes impactful decision affecting thousands, potentially millions

Huntsville, Alabama (April 18, 2017) — The Boeing Company and the Boeing Employee Community Fund Board of Alabama are committing $150,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving mission. This unprecedented gift will help fund two major projects:

  • $100,000 will support a collaborative kidney cancer research project being conducted in partnership with the American Cancer Society, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
  • $50,000 will fund and implement a patient transportation program for Jackson, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, and Morgan Counties.

 

Over the years, Boeing has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the American Cancer Society and to the health and well-being of individuals across America, through charitable giving and wellness programs. The company reaffirmed its commitment earlier this year when Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg who also served as the American Cancer Society’s National Gala Chairman announced his commitment to provide a company match to contributions made to ACS whether they were from individual employees or given through local Boeing ECF Boards.

Boeing Employee Community Fund Board Member, Jeanetta Wilson shares, “The Employee Community Fund Board has supported the American Cancer Society for many years, but when Boeing announced the ‘Boeing Against Cancer’ drive in February and encouraged employees to ‘Discover Your Power,’ we knew we had the power to do more.”

Karen Borden, American Cancer Society’s Senior Manager for Community Engagement shared, “We’re just so thrilled that Boeing shares our vision for a world without cancer. Their shared value of innovation, their penchant for generosity, and their genuine interest for the health and well-being of their employees, families, and community members created this invaluable opportunity.”

The impact of this funding could easily reach millions of people. The collaborative effort of HudsonAlpha and the American Cancer Society has been proven powerful. On this particular project, kidney cancer research will be conducted in partnership with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center under the direction of Mollie DeShazo, MD of UAB and Richard M. Myers, Ph.D., of HudsonAlpha.

With incredible advances in technology and expertise, genomic signatures and biomarkers may now be measured from patient urine or blood samples, enabling doctors to non-invasively monitor serial molecular alterations in cancer to identify the right molecular targets driving cancer growth, which will enable future investigation of the most suitable drugs. In the future, these data will assist with early initial diagnosis as well as detection of recurrence of kidney cancer leading to improved clinical outcomes. In 2014, HudsonAlpha scientists identified a panel of biomarkers that are strong predictors of kidney cancer in patient tissues. In 2016, collaborators at HudsonAlpha and UAB also identified genomic changes associated with kidney cancer in both primary and metastatic tumors. Additional work investigating these tissue-based signatures in peripheral fluids (i.e. blood and urine) is the first step toward a non-invasive clinical test for kidney cancer diagnosis and patient monitoring for cancer recurrence, drug response and resistance. Brittany N. Lasseigne, Ph.D. in Myers’ lab at HudsonAlpha, will perform experiments on these samples to further refine and optimize kidney cancer biomarkers for use in the clinic. The studies of molecular markers will elucidate the biology of this disease, which will lead to identifying potential new molecules to target to treat and detect this cancer.

“HudsonAlpha, one of the top genetic sequencing centers in the nation, and UAB, a premier medical research institution, can together change the standard of care for cancer patients by diagnosing patients earlier and using the right treatment for the right person at the right time,” said Myers, HudsonAlpha faculty investigator, president and science director. “Boeing’s support will be instrumental in making significant advances in cancer research by saving lives through earlier disease diagnosis and treatment options.”

Furthermore, the funding from the Boeing Employee Community Fund of Alabama will support a five-county cancer patient transportation program, sustained for 12-18 months. Given the demands of radiation and chemotherapies, transportation is particularly relevant to cancer care and has been shown to impact the elderly, rural residents, and minorities at higher rates. Moreover, those living farther from radiation treatment facilities are less likely to get radiation.

In partnership with The Boeing Company and Boeing Employee Community Fund of Alabama, the American Cancer Society will implement a Transportation Assistance Program, which will create alternative solutions to help cancer patients with transportation needs. The program will include two methods of support: a Community Transportation Grant Program coupled with an Emergency Transportation Fund used to offset expenses when regular means or extreme time constraints cannot be accommodated.

All-in-all, Boeing’s Employee Community Fund Board of Alabama and The Boeing Company have set a new standard for community engagement, and their gift will impact a staggering number of lives.

The American Cancer Society is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing funding for education, advocacy, research, and services for cancer patients, caregivers, and the communities that support them.

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Opened in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit: http://hudsonalpha.org/.

HudsonAlpha Media Contact:

Margetta Thomas

mthomas@hudsonalpha.org

256-327-0425

American Cancer Society Media Contact:

Kaki Morrow

kaki.morrow@cancer.org

Boeing Media Contact:

Jason Capeheart

jason.s.capeheart@boeing.com

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