Going that extra mile

Dr. Marignani runs — and picks apples — for the cure

- October 12, 2007

The Tumour Suppressors don pink lab coats for the recent CIBC Run for the Cure. (Photo supplied)

Dr. Paola Marignani is a woman on a mission, one to improve the lives of people with breast cancer.

A cancer researcher at Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Marignani is determined to unlock the secrets of tumour suppressors – proteins in our cells that normally prevent cancers from forming. She has discovered a key tumour suppressor for cancer – LKB1 – that, when mutated, develops cancer-causing effects. Her findings were recently published as a priority report in the prestigious journal, Cancer Research.

But her efforts to fight breast cancer don’t stop at the laboratory door. Dr. Marignani is involved with the cancer community at a grassroots level, as a research ambassador and fundraiser. She organized a team for the CIBC Run for the Cure – aptly named ‘The Tumour Suppressors’ – that over the past two years has raised more than $7,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

“We raised $4,219 for this year’s run,” Dr. Marignani says of her Tumour Suppressors team. “We walked together in costumes, wearing bright pink lab coats and a very large banner that read ‘Tumour Suppressors Run for the Cure.’ As in years past, we chatted with other participants, telling them about our work and letting them know that we are some of the cancer researchers their efforts are supporting.”

For Dr. Marignani, contact with the public is a key part of her role as a scientist. She gives talks to breast cancer groups, and is involved with Bosom Buddies, a Nova Scotia group that has raised more than $200,000 for breast cancer research in the past 11 years – largely through making and selling apple pies.

“I took my lab team to the Valley in mid-September to pick apples with the Bosom Buddies,” Marignani says, noting that last year, she made pastry for the pies. “I want my research team to understand the importance of being involved with the community that’s supporting our research.”

Flamme Burton of Bosom Buddies agrees. “Having Dr. Paola working side-by-side with us gives the research a human face. We see the light; we see how much she cares. We’re not raising money blindly. She gives us hope and motivates us in what we do.”

Dr. Marignani was recruited to Dalhousie in part by the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program, and has received funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Atlantic Chapter), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.

For more information about Dr. Marignani’s research, visit her website. To donate to the Tumour Suppressors team until the end of October, go to Run for the Cure and enter Dr. Marignani’s name under “Donate to a participant.”


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