Huntsville, Ala. — HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology was the first stop on the Birmingham Bicycle Club’s (BBC) Paul Revere Ride bicycle tour, which raises funds and awareness for skin cancer research. The “Champions for Cancer,” a small team of ultra-cyclists, will cover approximately 475 miles of bicycle riding in three days, through the center of Alabama. Funds raised from this event will support melanoma research being done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The BBC has partnered with the Deep South Cancer Foundation (DSCF) to put on this special event in honor of long-time club member and Century Chairperson, Wayne Spooner, who is being treated at UAB for melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat.

The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Birmingham Bicycle Club on this important project. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer but is often overlooked and prevention is not taken seriously. This event promotes much needed public awareness of melanoma prevention, while supporting valuable research going on at UAB,” said Warren Smedley, a DSCF board member.

DSCF partners with individuals and families at a local level to overcome the daily barriers created by cancer. In doing so, the foundation collaborates with various leaders and organizations for community bike rides across the South.

The “Champions for Cancer” cycling team stopped by HudsonAlpha today to recognize its advances in cancer genomics – using genetic information to better understand, screen, diagnose and treat different types of cancer.

“We collaborate with physicians and scientists from around the world, a lot of them here in Alabama, and we are trying to help to answer questions like, “Can we distinguish different sub-types of a cancer, and can we use genomics to help diagnose cancers early, so they are more likely to be treatable and even cured?” said Rick Myers, PhD, faculty investigator and president and science director at HudsonAlpha. “We applaud the Champions for Cancer team and our colleagues at UAB for helping to fight this important fight.”

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. 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 hudsonalpha.org.

HudsonAlpha Media Contact:
Margetta Thomas
mthomas@hudsonalpha.org
256-327-0425 

Birmingham Bicycle Club Media Contact:
Warren Smedley
wsmedley@uabmc.edu
205-533-0410

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