Partner Member Profile: The Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of the nation’s preeminent hospitals for cancer care. Located in Houston, Texas, MD Anderson’s Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program was created in 1996 as a critical step toward the goal of eradicating ovarian cancer. The program was the nation’s first formal, comprehensive ovarian cancer research effort aimed at translating basic discoveries into improved therapies and management of the disease; it also provides support to women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Today, the program conducts research into the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of ovarian cancer under the leadership of Director Anil K. Sood, MD. The program’s mission is to find a cure for ovarian cancer by creating collaborative research for improving diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

As Program Manager for Community Relations and Development, Pamela Weems is responsible for building public awareness of ovarian cancer and raising funds for research. Pamela plans and oversees community relations programs including special events and fundraisers, and develops marketing and educational materials that support the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

Much of the educational work and research is underwritten by two major fundraisers: an annual 5K Run/Walk titled Sprint for Life held every May, and a bi-annual Online Quilt Auction. Since its inception, the Sprint for Life has raised more than $3.6 million in support of the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

The Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project began in 2002 to help build awareness about ovarian cancer. To expand outreach, the first Online Quilt Auction was hosted in 2007. Now held biannually, the auction features quilts from all over the country and around the world. Quilts of all sizes and designs are accepted. Working with quilting communities, the auction also includes art quilts, some of which are made with hand-dyed fabric donated by Cherrywood Fabrics.

The Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program actively supports ovarian cancer survivors. Several years ago, the Program began offering the Alliance’s Survivors Teaching Students® in Houston. The STS program provides the opportunity for ovarian cancer survivors to speak to third year medical students about the risk factors and symptoms of the disease.

The Program also helps facilitate monthly support group meetings for ovarian cancer survivors and schedules gynecologic oncologists from MD Anderson to speak to community groups on ovarian cancer symptoms and risk factors. Lab tours are also offered to supporters of the Program, so they can gain understanding of the research. In September 2013, the Program will co-host a one-day regional conference with the Alliance, featuring speakers on a range of ovarian cancer topics.

The Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program is a Partner Member of the Alliance because it shares the mission of educating and building awareness. Together, they are making a difference!

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