What Notable Citizens Are Saying About Cancer League

Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA, FACS

Click Here to Download Cancer League of Colorado Impact Report From University of Colorado Cancer Center

Dear Gary,

Cancer League of Colorado’s partnership has been vital to the University of Colorado Cancer Center. We are humbled by your continued support. As we reflected on all we have accomplished together, we wanted to find a way to show the significant impact you have had on our ability to grow and lead as a cancer center. This report represents our longstanding relationship and highlights that what you have done for this campus has played a key role in our upward trajectory. We were hoping to be able to share this report with you in person, but are sending via email until we can get together once again.  Without a doubt, the work of the League has directly translated into improving lives, and saving lives.

While I will not be in attendance at the update on Monday (I am operating on a patient I previously delayed because of COVID), we look forward to answering any questions you have about this report, as well as discussing our research, the successful match, and next steps in our partnership.  I believe we have a call to discuss the Hope Ball later this morning and can talk about this impact report also.

With kind regards,


Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA, FACS
Professor & Chair of the University of Colorado Department of Surgery
Director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center
The Aragón/Gonzalez-Gíustí Chair
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Thanks to the vision of Cancer League of Colorado, we are improving the lives of patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Since our partnership began in 1985, you have given us the resources to make significant strides in understanding and treating cancer. By helping us build a foundation of success, you are enabling decades of future research and clinical care at the
University of Colorado Cancer Center. As we look forward to the opportunities ahead, we are most excited about providing the best possible care to our patients— care that is informed by the latest research and delivered by
world-class health care professionals. By combining basic science, translational research and clinical care on one campus, we are transforming cancer care and rapidly changing the therapies available to patients. Your investments in our research are investments in our future. Your partnership is where cures begin. Thanks to your support, we are able to create opportunities for our faculty, and fuel innovation and discovery. Thank you for joining us
on this journey.

With warm regards,
Richard Schulick, MD, MBA
Director, CU Cancer Center
Chair, CU Department of Surgery
Aragón/Gonzalez-Guístí Endowed Chair in Surgery

Investing In Our Key Leaders

In order to move the field of cancer care forward, we must invest in top talent to lead our research and clinical programs. Funding from Cancer League of Colorado is essential to providing our faculty the resources to take calculated risks and develop new therapies for patients through investigator-initiated trials and grants for basic science research.


Division of Medical Oncology
In 2011, Dr. Lieu joined the CU Cancer Center following a fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was attracted to CU Anschutz because of the outstanding faculty and collaborative culture. Today, his work is focused on drug discovery and novel therapeutics for cancer specific to detection and treatment of young-onset colorectal cancer. His team is bringing findings from the lab to clinical trials as quickly as possible. Private support is helping Dr. Lieu accomplish his ambitious research goals. He also leads the allocation of funding from Cancer League of Colorado to faculty with promising research.

“Without private support, research doesn’t happen! With your partnership, we can fund research that otherwise would not be possible. Our researchers and patients are indebted to our community for pushing the field forward and creating an atmosphere of innovation.”


Breelyn Wilky, MD

Division of Medical Oncology

Dr. Wilky was recently recruited to the CU Cancer Center in 2018 from the University of Miami. She is an expert in sarcomas, rare cancers of bone and soft tissue that affect all ages of patients, who desperately need new therapies. In addition to seeing patients, she oversees laboratory research and designs and runs clinical trials to find treatments that improve the immune system’s ability to kill sarcomas. Dr. Wilky also works with Dr. Lieu to allocate funding from Cancer League of Colorado to the most promising research ideas.

“In cancer research, the distance between new discoveries in the laboratory and the patients waiting for early clinical trials is the smallest of any field in medicine. Particularly when we are studying immune therapies, it’s critical that we learn something from every single patient who is treated with these new drugs. With investigatorinitiated trials, and the additional support from Cancer League of Colorado, we have the critical resources to do exactly this. We study our patients’ immune systems in blood and tumors before and after therapy, identify the barriers, and try therapies in the lab that can improve the next generation of clinical trials for our patients. It’s bench to bedside and back again!”

Sana Karam, MD, PhD

Department of Radiation Oncology

Dr. Karam joined the CU Cancer Center in 2013 following her residency training in radiation oncology at Georgetown University. At CU Anschutz, she treats head and neck
cancer patients, and manages a research lab. Dr. Karam uses experiences in the clinic to inform her research. When treatments fail or she sees opportunities to improve the
patient experience, she uses resources in her lab to create new cancer treatments. Being in the clinic also gives her the opportunity to see treatments in action to ensure a positive
quality of life for her patients. Dr. Karam’s specific research focus is on developing novel therapeutics for radiosensitization of head and neck cancers, and improving patient lives.

“I most enjoy successfully treating cancer. But even when an aggressive cancer has spread throughout a patient’s body and no treatment is available, I feel I can serve an important role by helping them understand and decide among their options. In the lab, I am also fortunate to help develop next-generation therapies for our patients.”

Investing in Innovative Research Projects

Recent giving from Cancer League of Colorado is fueling research that otherwise may not have been possible. With your support, we are changing the future of cancer treatments and designing clinical trials to move research from bench to bedside more quickly than ever before.

Assistant Professor, Division of Medical Oncology
Dr. Kessler is conducting a clinical trial to alternate high doses of testosterone in patients with prostate cancer to reset androgen receptor signaling in patients. The concept of this type of therapy has long been proposed, but no large-scale studies have shown a benefit in overall disease control. However, this therapy has been shown to improve the quality of life for patients with prostate cancer. Most previous research has relied on the gradual rise and decline of testosterone. Dr. Kessler’s research uses a sudden shift in testosterone levels to allow for improved control of the cancer.

Associate Professor, Surgery-Urology
Early results from Dr. Maroni’s study in patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer suggest that the rising of PSA, a measure of microscopic disease, can be slowed with grapeseed extract. After rapidly enrolling patients in the first stage, these exciting results support expansion of the number of patients to further confirm the benefit.
Open to Accrual: January 18, 2019
Current Patients Enrolled: 7
Target Total Accrual: 15
Anticipated Completion Date: August 24, 2020*
*may be impacted due to current events
“Thanks to support from Cancer League of Colorado, I have been able to jump start a clinical trial using grape seed extract in patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer. This is just one way that private funding is accelerating progress and hopefully changing lives.”

Assistant Professor, Division of Medical Oncology

“Because of your outstanding support, our patients are experiencing better outcomes. The clinical trials that you have funded are certain to push the field forward. I believe that the research we are doing today will have a tangible impact on lives tomorrow.”

Assistant Professor, Division of Medical Oncology

“Thank you for your continued support for clinical trials at the CU Cancer Center. So often, clinical trials are not sustained because of a lack of funding. By providing these critical funds, we can complete clinical trials and bring new therapies to patients more quickly than ever before.”

Vice Chair of Education, Associate Professor
and Residency Program Director,
Department of Radiation Oncology

“Our clinical trial specifically studies radiation and anti-PD-1 therapy in recurrent women’s cancers. Thanks to your support, we are ready to begin recruiting patients to participate and hope to start seeing patients soon.”


Professor, Division of Medical Oncology

“Our study is exploring the potential differential need for anti-resorptive bone medication in patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer and bone metastases. Since we opened accrual in April, we have three subjects who have consented. We hope to complete the clinical trial in 2022. You are helping make this research possible, and providing a valuable service to
current and future patients.”

University of Colorado Cancer Center Milestones

Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, named director 2018
Elected as member of National Comprehensive Cancer Network 2013
Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, named director 2010
Designation as National Cancer Institute formal consortium 2005
Expansion and move of research components to CU Anschutz Medical Campus 2003
Expansion and move of the outpatient center to CU Anschutz Medical Campus 2000
Expansion of radiation and chemotherapy facilities at UCH 1998
Designation as National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center 1997
Dedicated bone marrow transplant program opens at Children’s Hospital Colorado 1996
Dedicated outpatient cancer center opens at East Pavilion 1993
Dedicated cancer research space opens in Biomedical Research Building 1992
Dedicated bone marrow transplant program opens at University of Colorado Hospital 1991
Paul Bunn, Jr., MD, named director 1985

Cancer League of Colorado Giving

More than $9.5 million in support since 1985

We have accomplished so much over the years due to your support. The milestones we have reached as a Cancer Center would not have been possible without your longstanding partnership.



You have championed our IITS, and we are so please to see our accrual numbers increasing. Additionally, thanks to your leadership in our match mailing, we are bringing new supporters to our community.


FY2014 35
FY2015 32
FY2016 32
FY2017 116
FY2018 164
FY2019 197



Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar, MD, who specializes in Cancer and Blood Disorders.
“I am honored to be the recipient of the Cancer League of Colorado Endowed Chair. Our group investigates the molecular mechanisms of brain tumors that occur primarily in children.

“Identifying specific genes that are responsible for these tumors allows us to identify novel targets for therapy. The funds provided by the endowed chair are crucial in allowing us to pursue innovative high-risk, high-reward research avenues that would otherwise not be possible with traditional funding. For example, we were able perform a genome-wide analysis to identify specific genes in a tumor called medulloblastoma.

“These experiments would not have been possible with the support of CLC. We are now examining how these genes regulate stem cells within the tumor. These studies will allow us to better understand how tumors relapse and how to target them for therapy.” — Rajeev Vibhakar, MD, who’s clinical interest is in the treatment of Pediatric Oncology & Neuro-Oncology with an emphasis on medulloblastoma.

John Tentler, PhD Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, Associate Director of Education, University of Colorado Cancer Center
“We are entering an exciting new era in cancer treatment and management. This is the result of years of intensive research and gradual but inexorable progress in our understanding of this disease.

The Cancer League of Colorado has been, and continues to be, a major contributor to this progress by providing critical support for cutting-edge research. Thank you for your tireless efforts—you are making a difference!”

Martha and Scott Jentz
“Why am I Dedicated To The Ones I Love?

Twenty two years ago, while trying to find a place to put my grief over the loss of my best friend to breast cancer, Fleta Johnsen (Cancer League past president and close friend) told me about Cancer League. 100% volunteer, no paid staff, no overhead, 100% of every dollar raised goes to services and research. I joined!

The first 10 years I spent doing small things – mailings, donating stamps – just finding my way! Then onto the Hope Ball committee and from there to the Board and then to President. While President-elect, I lost my college roommate to a rapidly moving sarcoma. How could I do this job (my grief was so intense)? Maybe I should dedicate my year as CLC President to her? Driving home, I heard the Mamas and the Papas’ recording of Dedicated to the One I Love…. Maybe I can do this…… talked to the board, changed our tag line from Commitment to Colorado to Dedicated to the Ones We Love.

Scott and I sat down and made a list. Not only had we lost his mom to ovarian cancer, two friends to breast cancer, two uncles to colon cancer, a roommate to sarcoma, now our son-in-law, Paul is fighting a rare form of Lymphoma. After much thinking we counted 57 dear friends, family and co-workers!  We had to dedicate our time and talent to eradicating cancer.

We decided Cancer League would become ours and our Company’s “Philanthropy”, not just cancer, but Cancer League in particular. Both family and Gateway Services Group support Cancer League and its four major fundraisers – Golf Tournament, Race for Research, Over the Edge and the Hope Ball.  We sit on a variety of Cancer League boards – Corporate Advisory, Executive and Foundation. We, as a team, chair the Hope Ball Raffle and are part of the Endowment of Hope. We help wherever we are needed.

In our small way we hope that we can be a part of making cancer a thing of the past.” — Martha Jentz

Every Dollar We Donate to Research Generates another
$20 in Funding

During the past 40+ years Cancer League of Colorado, Inc. (CLC) has raised over $15 million to be used for early-stage cancer research. These funds have been disbursed to Colorado-based research organizations, typically in amounts of $15,000 to $30,000. In many cases this seed funding has resulted in significant follow-on research funded by the federal government pharmaceutical companies and other organizations.

CLC recently did a statistical analysis of a number of grants made during the past several years and determined that for every dollar it provided as early-stage research grants in Colorado, another $20 was raised through subsequent funding by larger organizations to continue the more promising investigations. This covered basic research as well as translational research that can be readily applied to clinical applications. It included pursuits into bold new directions as well as the expansion of previously successful treatments. Even without additional funding, CLC financial support resulted in numerous helpful publications in peer reviewed journals.

Without the aid of CLC, many of these researchers would have struggled greatly to have obtained backing elsewhere, But don’t simply take our word for it. Following are what our research grant recipients have to say about the efficacy of CLC funding in the marathon struggle to find a cure for cancer.

“Cancer League of Colorado provides bridge funding for young investigators early in their careers, allowing them to continue their research while they work on obtaining more long-term support,” says Timothy Garrington M.D.
“CLC works like a seed. From the seed, we grow up huge trees,” observed Researcher Zhang Gongyi.

“CLC funding was crucial for my stay in that research area because my salary was provided from this grant. The work I initiated during that period provided fertile ground for my research,” explained CLC grant recipient Naushad Ali, Ph.D.
“The preliminary results generated during that period led the foundation stone for my current research programs, and as a result I was able to publish a few research papers. The preliminary investigation during this period helped in getting grants from the American Liver Foundation ($90,000 over 3 years).”

“Your contribution helps researchers to continue their interest in cancer biology. The information generated by each research project funded by CLC is like thick dots that make a bold line. You are not only part of those dots but also connecting links,” Ali concluded.

“Thanks to the first CLC grant, we were able to create a new line of transgenic mice that will be of general use to researchers in the areas of B cell development and malignancies,” James Hagman Ph.D. emphasized.

M.D. Gail Eckhardt’s CLC funded research “has helped guide what types of biological tests are most useful in these clinical trials.” The results “are being used to develop novel treatments for cancer and to determine if they are effective in hitting the cancer target. This really helps fund cutting edge clinical and translational research,” she concluded.

“Three publications have resulted from this work, and a fourth publication has been submitted,” summarized Lela Lee M.D. ”In my estimation, this is a high publication-to-funding ratio.”

It’s “good to have the money stay local. Colorado universities have become national factors in cancer research”, said appreciative Researcher Carol Sartorius.

One of the most interesting stories we have comes from cancer researcher and former cancer patient Anne Brauweiler, Ph.D. “I felt very lucky since someone in my situation 20 years sooner would not have survived at all. In addition there are many people for which chemotherapy and radiation are not effective. I kept imagining that there must be some way of drastically improving on the current methods of treatment available. Since I was nearing completion of graduate school, I decided that my goal would be to develop better, more specific therapies that would allow the selective targeting and destruction of tumor cells.

I considered that one potentially successful strategy might be to rely on the tremendous powers of the immune system. The immune system can protect against disease by attacking and destroying bacterial and viral invaders. Before I entered the laboratory, no-one was studying cancer or tumor immunity.

The previous two years of funding from Cancer League has enabled me to test a model in which tumor cells could be destroyed or eliminated, not by chemotherapy, but instead by the immune system. Based on these studies, we found that the immune system cells, known as macrophages, indeed could eliminate tumor cells if they were given some ‘help’ in the form of tumor specific antibody and a cytokine known as interferon gamma.

Intriguingly, recent clinical studies have demonstrated the first successful use of antibodies to directly treat human cancer. These antibodies, developed by the biotech company, Genentech, were effective in curing over half of the patients with untreatable lymphoma. I believe that one day, there will be specific antibodies that recognize and selectively destroy all human cancer cells,” she concluded.

Dr. Thomas Langan cited a critical difference in CLC funding from others. “Support of basic research is extremely important, and is the only thing that will eventually provide the solid foundation of knowledge needed to control cancer. This is especially true these days where pressure (applied by earmarking research funds to be used solely for the purpose) to carry out “translational research,” research that is supposed to have the potential to be ‘translated’ directly into patient care, is extremely high. The fraction of such projects that successfully translate into beneficial treatment has been extremely low.”

“This answer sounds somewhat melodramatic, but I would probably not be in an academic setting today without the support of CLC. The first grant was instrumental in permitting us to continue our work, and without it, I almost certainly would be in another position today, most likely in industry,” stated Jerome Schaack.

“The support of CLC provided us the security to perform several costly, yet risky, experiments that we might not otherwise have attempted,” observed William Schiemann.

“Without the research grant from Cancer League of Colorado, we would not be able to pursue the research that we had proposed,” Dai Zonghan Ph.D. concluded. “We might have (had) to spend (a) significant amount of time to look for funding opportunity elsewhere. With the support from Cancer League of Colorado, we were able to identify molecular events that are critical for pathogenesis of CML and ALL.”

“The spread of a primary tumor to secondary sites complicates treatment and makes complete eradication of the cancer considerably more difficult”, noted Bruce Cuevas, Ph.D. “Indeed, … cancer therapies that successfully prevent the cancer from spreading to other sites would greatly simplify treatment and would be expected to significantly improve the survival rate of patients suffering from a number of cancer types.”