Impact Report

Thank you for being part of our VeloSano family.

Our primary goal is to fund cancer research, and continue to make scientific discoveries that lead to better outcomes, and, ultimately, cures. (Photo: Cleveland Clinic researchers featured at the 2018 Kickoff Party)

Projects Funded in 2018

VeloSano supports projects that will build upon and transition recent advancements in cancer research into new diagnostics and therapeutics with a high likelihood of leading to successful, future, extramural grant funding. In its first four years, VeloSano has generated over $12.5 million which has been used to fund 90 cancer research projects. VeloSano 4 (2017) alone raised $4.1 million and funded the following Pilot and Impact Projects that were awarded in 2018:


Pilot Awards

The VeloSano Pilot Awards provide seed funding for cancer research activities being performed across the Cleveland Clinic enterprise. Utilizing a competitive application and peer-review selection process, the goal of the VeloSano Pilot Awards is to support projects with a high likelihood of leading to successful, future extramural grant funding. The focus of these one year grants is to build upon and transition recent advancements in cancer genetics and epigenetics and basic and translational tumor immunology.

Impact Awards

The VeloSano Impact Awards are distributed by the VeloSano Medical Chairman to satisfy the critical needs of the Cleveland Clinic cancer program. Whether a piece of equipment, advanced technology, recruitment or laboratory expenses, the VeloSano Impact Awards are to address strategic priorities that will advance the investigational abilities in the area of cancer research. These awards are meant to ensure that our caregivers and patients have access to the best talent and technology available.

2018 Award 2
Brain Cancer

Pilot Award
Brain Cancer

Hypoxia Drives Glioma Stell Cell Migration and Invasion via Vasorin-TGFbeta Signaling

Principal Investigator

Radiation Oncology
Taussig Cancer Institute
Cancer stem cells reside in hypoxic areas, are highly invasive and contribute to tumor progression. These cells are particularly difficult to treat because they are inherently resistant to conventional therapy, and their microenvironment reduces the efficacy of radiation and impairs delivery of chemotherapy. Glioblastoma is an incurable primary brain tumor that is characterized by regions of hypoxia and invasion into surrounding brain. This work will reveal a novel mechanism by which hypoxia drives GSC migration/invasion. If successful, the findings of this study will provide a strong rationale for the development of therapeutics aimed at targeting GSCs and, in particular, inhibiting their migration and invasion.

In Other Words

Glioblastoma is an incurable brain cancer. Cancer stem cells drive cancer progression and thrive in hypoxia (lowoxygen). The goal of this study is to understand how hypoxia drives cancer stem cells to invade normal brain, and in doing so, devise new therapeutic strategies to target invading cancer stem cells.

2018 Award 3
Blood Cancer

Pilot Award
Blood Cancer

Effects of synthetic-lethal compounds in models of SF-3B1 mutant myelodysplastic syndrome

Principal Investigator

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Taussig Cancer Institute
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are blood cancers affecting hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Approximately 60-80% of patients with MDS manifest with anemia due to the inadequate production of red blood cells. Genetic mutations in the splicing factor 3B, subunit 1 (SF3B1) gene are hallmark alterations in MDS with ringed sideroblasts, one of the most common subtypes of MDS. Changes in SF3B1 gene associate with defects in the production of red blood cells and deregulation of iron metabolism. SF3B1 encodes for a protein that is involved in RNA-splicing, a process required for the transfer of genetic information from DNA to messenger RNA which are then translated into proteins. RNA-splicing is a ubiquitous process affecting nearly 95% of all human genes. Agents modulating RNA-splicing have been developed but limited success has been achieved in designing small molecules targeting only cells with SF3B1 alterations. Because splicing is so ubiquitous, specific approaches are needed to avoid toxicities. We recently identified a small molecule agonist (STF-62247) that blocked the growth of cells with SF3B1 mutations without affecting normal cells. We further believe that one or more of these compounds will work its way up to become a novel precision treatment drug for MDS patients that harbor malignant hematopoietic stem cell clones with SF3B1 mutations.

In Other Words

Development of novel drugs targeting myelodysplastic syndromes with splicing factor 3b subunit 1 (SF3B1) mutations.

2018 Award 4
Lung Cancer

Pilot Award
Lung Cancer

Synergistic effects of interleukin-12 proinflammatory cytokine therapy with PD1 blockade

Principal Investigator

Hematology Oncology
Taussig Cancer Institute
Cancers are able to evade detection and destruction by the immune system and one of the most promising treatment strategies is the use of medications that enhance the patient’s own immune response against cancer. Pembrolizumab is one such immunotherapeutic agent that blocks a regulatory mechanism called PD1 that suppresses the immune system and limits its ability to fight cancer. However, PD1 blockade has modest to limited efficacy in a variety of cancers, but also has a safety profile that makes it ideal for optimized therapeutic combinations that may enhance the patient’s immune response. Prior studies support a combination strategy that involves so-called proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-12 that may enhance the immune reactivity of tumors (or cancers) and may increase the likelihood of response in tumors resistant to PD1 blockade. This strategy is being tested within the ongoing NCI10061 study (Tarhini, National Chair) that is testing IL-12 in combination with pembrolizumab. This laboratory project will be nested within NCI10061. For the first time, we will evaluate the impact of IL-12 on the immune system in the tumor and in the patient’s blood assessed simultaneously based on common systems biology, initially with IL-12 alone and with the later addition of pembrolizumab. Mechanistic studies in mouse models will allow us to define the underlying mechanisms of immune activity and resistance in order to optimize this approach and establish a foundation for future combinations. We hypothesize that IL-12 will promote a systemic antitumor response enhancing the immune reactivity of the tumor.

In Other Words

Harnessing the power of cytokine therapy (IL-12) to promote anti-tumor activity in tumors resistant to immunotherapy.

2018 Award 5
Lung Cancer

Pilot Award
Lung Cancer

The OAS-RNASE L Pathway Mediates Tumor Cell Death From 5-Azacytidine Treatment

Principal Investigator

Cancer Biology
Lerner Research Institute
Epigenetic drugs, such as 5-azacytidine (AZA), alter DNA without changing the DNA sequence itself. These drugs are used clinically to treat certain types of cancer including myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In addition, AZA is being investigated for use against a range of different types of solid malignant tumors, including lung cancer. AZA treatment increases RNA synthesis in cells, in particular an unusual type of RNA known as double-stranded RNA. In our preliminary studies we have determined that the double-stranded RNA produced in response to AZA treatment indirectly activates an enzyme called RNase L. Furthermore, we have found that RNase L is necessary for cancer cells to die in response to AZA. We propose a novel combination therapy for cancer based on these results. We will synthesize a drug that increases RNase L activity in cells and combine that with AZA. The drug target is an enzyme called PDE12 that normally suppresses RNase L activity by degrading its natural activator, a substance called 2-5A. Experiments will focus on lung cancer, beginning with cell culture studies and then extending into tumor growth studies in immunodeficient mice. These early-stage drug-development efforts may eventually lead to clinical trials involving novel PDE12 inhibitor analogs in combination with AZA for a range of different types of cancer.

In Other Words

Epigenetic drugs, such as the approved cancer drug 5-azacytidine (AZA), alter DNA without changing the DNA sequence itself.  Our early-stage drug-development efforts involving small molecules that enhance the anti-cancer activity of AZA may eventually lead to clinical trials for a range of different types of cancer.

2018 Award 6
General - All Cancers

Pilot Award
General - All Cancers

Construction of a morbidostat mammalian cells to study temporal genomics during the evolution of resistance

Principal Investigator

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Taussig Cancer Institute
We hypothesize that a morbidostat design can be modified to allow for the culture of
mammalian cell lines and further that such a device can be used to study the genotypephenotype map of cell lines evolving resistance to chemotherapeutics. Having a first-inclass experimental device will also provide rich preliminary data for external funding, and also likely opportunities for intellectual property. Constructing this device requires diverse expertise which we have in the lab already including: electrical engineering prototype experience (Williamson), leukemia culture and experimental evolution (Hitomi, and mentorship from Maciejewski), computer programming (Scott and Williamson) and mathematical modeling (Scott). With this unique blend of skills, we propose the following specific aims:
SA1: Build and calibrate robotic morbidostat system that is capable of continuous culture, monitoring and sampling of suspension mammalian cancer cell lines.
SA2: Evolve resistance of a suspension cell line to cytotoxic drug or drugs in the morbidostat and assay temporal genotype:phenotype map by sequencing and phenotypic characterization through time.

In Other Words

We’re going to use the money to build a robotic system to control the evolution of cancer cells.  Using this, we hope to speed up our understanding of how cancer beats the best drugs we have, and learn to stop this process in its tracks.

2018 Award 7
Diagnostic Radiology

Pilot Award
Diagnostic Radiology

Holographic Visualization for Performance of Percutaneous Ablation of Solid Tumors

Principal Investigator

Diagnostic Radiology
This VeloSano pilot project will provide new 3D holographic visualization to guide probes to treat liver cancer cells with heat. Instead of displaying medical images on conventional flat-panel screens, 3D holograms of the probe and the patient’s liver and target tumors are superimposed directly to the operative site for more precise probe placement. To simplify use, the probe is tracked with mini-GPS-like navigation, beginning with the skin access location. As the probe is advanced, an innovative holographic light-ray provides guidance by changing color to indicate optimal alignment of probe tip to target tissue. Better image-guidance and navigation will enable more precise delivery of heat to target cancer cells with less to adjacent healthy cells. This approach will yield fewer post-procedure complications and is key for treating large tumors and complex anatomy. Training for the 3D holographic system will include tumor targeting and a survey of interventional radiologists (IRs) to assess ease of use. Thereafter, a preliminary clinical evaluation will be done to demonstrate how accurately 3D holographic visualization with mini-GPS-like tracking guides the probe, while using flat screens for reference. Unlike intravenous chemotherapy, directly heating tumor cells at a planned location is performed with no need for general anesthesia at less cost, risk, morbidity, and recovery time than surgery. This project will help fully realize these advantages as adoption of this 3D procedure to treat tumors in liver and other organs continues to transform healthcare, leading to improvements in patient-centered care and quality of life as well as economic benefits to healthcare worldwide.

In Other Words

The grant award through Velosano will allow us to continue to work toward providing 3D holographic visualization using Microsoft HoloLens to improve image guidance and navigation when treating cancer via minimally invasive techniques. Instead of displaying medical images on conventional 2D flat-panel screens, 3D holograms of the treatment probe, the patient’s anatomy, and target tumors are superimposed directly onto the procedure site in real-time for more precise probe placement as it is tracked with mini-GPS-like navigation. We hope that through this approach, this will result in a greater degree of accuracy, less potential for cancer recurrence, and fewer post-procedure complications. This can be key for treating large tumors, as adoption of this procedure for the liver and other organs continues to transform healthcare, leading to improvements in patient care, quality of life, as well as economic benefits to healthcare worldwide.

2018 Award 8
Lung Cancer

Pilot Award
Lung Cancer

Clonal composition governs the susceptibility of BRAF mutant cancers to therapy

Principal Investigator

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Taussig Cancer Institute
Tumors have genetically distinct subclones that compete for space and resources and differentially resist our efforts to make them extinct. Adding to this challenge is the dynamic nature of subclone architecture, which evolves through time and space due to selection pressures inherent to nutrient challenged tumor microenvironments and/or therapy aimed at tumor eradication. It is increasingly evident that intratumoral heterogeneity can represent a major obstacle to tumor eradication. Our proposal represents a highly orchestrated effort to elucidate subclone architecture in the most common type of lung cancer, lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). We propose to use mathematical and experimental models to study clonal and subclonal mutations in LUAD and follow the evolution of these subclones during treatments. If successful, this work will: (1) establish that successful forecasting of therapeutic outcomes is likely to require the identification of low-frequency, genetically distinct subclones, (2) advance toward clinical translation a new category of mutations in the oncogene BRAF, heretofore deemed to be poor candidates for targeted therapies alone (i.e. inhibitors of BRAF and/or MEK) and (3) establish the efficacy of a new therapeutic strategy to ameliorate treatment resistance. The proposed investigation is significant because it will advance a new program of personalized therapies on the basis of subclonal genetic alterations found in an individual patient’s tumor. Our team’s long-term goal is to make critical discoveries and major clinical advances that will significantly accelerate progress towards eradicating lung cancer deaths. This proposal for a VeloSano Pilot Award is seamlessly aligned with that goal.

In Other Words

Tumors have genetically distinct sub clones that compete for space and resources and differentially resist our efforts to make them extinct. Our proposal represents a highly orchestrated effort to elucidate and evolutionarily steer lung cancer sub clones to prevent treatment resistance.

2018 Award 9
Endometrioid Tumors

Pilot Award
Endometrioid Tumors

Chemosensitizing endometrioid tumors with LCK inhibitors

Principal Investigator

Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Lerner Research Institute
Endometrial and ovarian cancers are the first and second most common gynecologic malignancies in the United States. When combined, they are expected to be newly diagnosed in 83,820 women this year and will cause 25,000 deaths, almost 10% of all cancer-related deaths in women. Approximately 80% of endometrial cancers and 10% of ovarian cancers demonstrate endometrioid histology. Chemotherapy regimens for advanced ovarian and endometrial cancers include cisplatin-based cytotoxic treatment. Despite initial response, many patients recur and become platinum resistant within six months of initial treatment. These tumors contain a cancer stem cell (CSC) population that contributes to tumor growth, recurrence, and treatment resistance. Once resistance develops to platinum they often become resistant to other agents leading to patient decline. There is a significant unmet medical need to specifically target endometrioid tumors (ET) for therapeutic intervention. We recently identified the protein called CD55 as a new cell surface therapeutic target for cisplatin resistant ETs. In preliminary studies, we determined that CD55, via activation of an intracellular signaling pathway, maintains ET cell resistant to cisplatin. Importantly, inhibition of CD55 signaling results in sensitization of ET cells to cisplatin. Here we will investigate therapeutic strategies for sensitizing ETs to cisplatin in preclinical cellular and mouse models. We will determine whether this sensitization strategy is sufficient to overcome resistance to additional cancer drugs.

In Other Words

Gynecologic cancer patients show a good initial response to chemotherapy, however the tumors often recur within a few months and become resistant to available therapies.  Our research focuses on finding approaches to sensitize resistant ovarian cancers to current chemotherapy strategies to improve patient outcomes and survival.

2018 Award 10

Pilot Award

Targeting chromatin modifier gene mutations in urothelial carcinoma using synthetic lethality

Principal Investigator

Glickman Urology & Kidney Institute
Bladder cancer is the fifth most common malignancy in the United States; however, prior to the approval of atezolizumab in May, 2016, there were no new medications for locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer for over 30 years. Similarly, intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin, the mainstay of treatment for intermediate and high risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, was approved by the FDA over 20 years ago. Thus, there remains a significant unmet need for the development of novel therapies for all stages of this disease. Recent genomic studies have identified chromatin modifier gene mutations in over 70% of bladder cancers. These genes encode proteins that play a crucial role in maintaining a cell’s gene expression pattern. Our research is focused on understanding the molecular vulnerabilities that arise from chromatin modifier gene mutations and evaluating them as potential targets for novel bladder cancer therapies.

In Other Words

Most bladder cancers have mutations in chromatin modifier genes, which play a central role controlling gene expression and cell behavior. Using a genetic screen, we are investigating whether mutations in these genes lead to undiscovered molecular vulnerabilities in bladder cancer.

2018 Award 11

Pilot Award

Targeting Fatty Acid Desaturase 1 (FADS1)-Derived Lipid Mediator Signaling in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Principal Investigator

Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Lerner Research Institute
Obesity represents a rapidly expanding health care burden in developed countries, and is recognized as a key risk factor for the development of many types of cancer. In particular, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-driven mortality is strikingly associated with obesity20-25. HCC is also commonly associated with hepatitis B and C infection26-30. Unfortunately, animal models that recapitulate human-relevant HCC disease progression are lacking. To address this gap we have established both viral- and obesity-driven mouse models of HCC that allow us to model human-relevant disease progression where 100% of the experimental mice develop pathology-proven HCC with fully intact immune systems. Using these robust mouse models, we have identified a novel lipid signaling pathway that opposes obesity-driven HCC. Here we will address the mechanisms by which altered lipid metabolism modulates HCC development. Our discovery of a link between FADS1 and the development of HCC has broad public health implications, and has the potential to increase our understanding of how dietary fat intake impacts liver cancer progression. We anticipate the proposed studies will reveal new molecular mechanisms by which non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) progresses towards HCC, and more importantly lead to the first targeted therapeutics for obesity-driven HCC.

In Other Words

The most common liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is closely associated with obesity, but the mechanisms linking obesity to HCC are not well understood. This project is focused on understanding how dietary fatty acid metabolism in the liver is involved in HCC initiation and progression in obese individuals.

2018 Award 12
Brain Cancer

Pilot Award
Brain Cancer

Therapeutic Targeting of Epigenetic Modifiers in the Glioblastoma Perivascular Niche

Principal Investigator

Burkhardt Brain Tumor
Neurological Institute
Co-Principal Investigator

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadly form of primary brain cancer. GBM is driven by therapy-resistant GBM stem cells (GSCs) which reside in supportive environments within a tumor called niches. The most GSC-rich and fastest growing niche is the high-oxygen and high-nutrient area surrounding tumor blood vessels, termed the perivascular niche. The interaction between the tumor cells and their environment changes how GSCs behave and respond to therapy, and our current laboratory cultures do not model GSC niches. This is a critical barrier to discovering more effective patient treatments. We have overcome this barrier by using 3-dimensional miniature tumor models, called GBM organoids, which replicate the perivascular and hypoxic niches in GBM tumors. Cells in our 3D models grow and respond to therapy more like cells in a human tumor, and just like in human tumors, GSCs in each niche respond differently from each other. Our unique screens using these models have discovered new therapeutic targets in each specific tumor niche. Targeting one protein in particular, called WDR5, using the drug MM102 causes massive cell death in the perivascular-like organoid niche. MM-102’s exquisite specificity suggests WDR5 is working through interaction with MLL1, a protein well-known to drive some types of leukemia. In this project, we will define whether the WDR5/MLL1 interaction is WDR5’s critical role in GBM, will test if WDR5 is essential in the tumor perivascular niche in mice, and will conduct preclinical testing of MM-102 as a potential therapeutic for GBM.

In Other Words

Glioblastoma is a uniformly fatal brain cancer. One of the challenges in treating this cancer is its biological complexity on a microscopic scale. Our project allows us to use a unique 3 dimensional tumor culture system to identify and attack targets in each part of the tumor micro-environment. Our goal is to use this tailored approach to create better drug combinations that more effectively treat these tumors.

2018 Award 13
Brain Cancer

Pilot Award
Brain Cancer

Overcoming Suppression of Immune Cell Function by Glioblastoma Isocitrate Dehydrogenase Mutation

Principal Investigator

Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Lerner Research Institute
Lower grade glioma tumors nearly all express a mutant enzyme that forms the unusual compound D 2-hydroxyglutarate (D 2-HG) that accumulates to very high levels in tumors. Why this might be advantageous to tumors is not well understood. We discovered tumors making D 2-HG never contain the small clots of tumors with normal enzyme. This occurred because D 2-HG entered platelets and physically bound the calcium they must have to become activated. We extended the realization that D 2-HG travels from tumors to modify platelet function to find D 2-HG also interferes with cells of the immune system that normally would kill tumor cells. Some of the negative effects of D 2-HG on immune cells occur within the T lymphocytes, so we predict there must be a mechanism to transport D 2-HG from the environment into lymphocytes. This hypothesis offers us two new possible anti-tumor tools. First, we predict we can determine if brain tumors contain the mutated gene producing D 2-HG by sensitively analyzing D 2-HG within circulating lymphocytes. This would be possible because some of the tumor-derived D 2-HG escapes to blood where it would be concentrated within lymphocytes. The second tool we hope to forge is a new way of protecting lymphocytes from tumor-derived D 2-HG. We will sort through 50,000 small chemicals to identify those that protect lymphocyte cell function by specifically blocking D 2-HG uptake into the lymphocytes. Such agents would be a new way to protect the immune system from tumor immunosuppression.

In Other Words

We have identified an unexpected mechanism that allows glioma cells containing a common mutation to suppress immune cell function. Our work seeks ways to disrupt this interaction to restore immune cell function.

2018 Award 14
Brain Cancer

Pilot Award
Brain Cancer

Microglial Regulation of Sex Specific Differences in Glioblastoma

Principal Investigator

Lerner Research Institute
Co-Principal Investigator

Tumor growth is driven by the combination of molecular changes within tumor cells and interactions between tumor cells and their surrounding microenvironment. Current therapies have been limited in their success due to the development of resistance. The interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment has been the focus of many studies and is the basis for next-generation therapies, including immunotherapies seeking to bolster the body’s own immune system to attack the tumor. In glioblastoma, the most prevalent primary malignant brain tumor, therapeutic options beyond surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are limited. Glioblastomas display potent suppression of the immune system. The objective of this project is to understand how tumor cell interaction with resident and infiltrating innate immune cells (microglia and macrophages) alters tumor growth. We have identified a cell adhesion molecule, junctional adhesion molecule-A (JAM-A), that mediates cell-cell interactions between tumor cells. We hypothesize that JAM-A mediates the interaction between tumor cells and microglia/macrophages. Using JAM-A-deficient mice, we found that JAM-A affects microglia number and function differently in males and females. We will use elegant microglia and macrophage reporter mice to perform high-resolution imaging in living mice throughout disease progression, and assess the role of JAM-A in mediating tumor-immune cell interactions. We will also evaluate the effect of microglia and macrophage depletion on glioblastoma growth. These studies will reveal the importance of cellular interactions between tumor and immune cells in driving tumor growth and identify cellular (microglia/macrophages) and molecular (JAM-A) targets for development of novel therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma.

In Other Words

How brain tumors grow and why our immune cells fail to limit their growth are not known. We previously found a specific protein in the immune cells surrounding brain tumors that makes them grow slower in females than in males. Using cutting edge imaging technologies we will follow the growth of brain tumors and detail their interactions with immune cells as they engage the tumors in real time. We will then eliminate this immune cell protein to see if it is indeed the key molecule that makes male and female tumors grow at different rates. Ultimately, we plan to use findings from this project to devise new strategies aimed at preventing aggressive tumor growth in glioblastoma patients.

2018 Award 15
Bone Marrow Cancer

Pilot Award
Bone Marrow Cancer

Breath Analysis and the Microbiome in Gastrointestinal Graft versus-Host Disease

Principal Investigator

Hematology Oncology
Taussig Cancer Institute
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is the only potentially curative therapy for many life-threatening blood cancers. Its success is limited by graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common complication of transplant, in which the donor’s immune system responds to host cells, resulting in tissue damage. Gastrointestinal GVHD occurs in more than half of patients, and is clinically characterized by anorexia, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea. Unfortunately current diagnostic tools often fail to identify patients who are at higher risk for poor response to treatment and death. Furthermore, biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract are often invasive, with equivocal or non-diagnostic results. Hence, there is a critical need for developing novel, non-invasive methods to diagnose and monitor GVHD. There is increasing data that the intestinal microbiome plays an important role in the development of inflammatory diseases, including GVHD. As bacteria are known to produce characteristic volatile metabolites, or gases, we hypothesized that abnormalities in the activity and composition of intestinal microbiota in GVHD may change the gases expelled in breath. We thus conducted a pilot study evaluating the organic gases expelled by patients after stem cell transplant with and without gastrointestinal GVHD. We identified 5 gases which distinguish GVHD from non-GVHD. We thus propose to further study the changes in organic gases through the transplant period and correlate it with the gastrointestinal stool microbiome.

In Other Words

Bone marrow transplant is a potentially curative therapy for many blood cancers however its success may be limited by graft-versus-host disease, a common immune-related inflammatory disease that often affects the gastrointestinal tract. The microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract is known to play an important role in the development of many inflammatory diseases including graft-versus-host disease. Breath analysis has also become an important tool to detect and monitor a variety of diseases, and early studies have shown promise in detecting graft-versus-host disease. This study funded by Velosano is investigating breath as a reflection of the gastrointestinal microbiome in graft-versus-host disease to better detect and diagnose this complication after bone marrow transplant.

2018 Award 16
Bladder Cancer

Pilot Award
Bladder Cancer

Prospective validation and functional characterization of a gene expression signature for identification and risk stratification of small cell (neuronal type) bladder cancer

Principal Investigator

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research
Taussig Cancer Institute
Small cell carcinoma of the bladder (SCCB) is an aggressive subtype of bladder cancer with worse outcomes than conventional urothelial cancer. Our understanding of this disease is limited and current treatment is largely copied from other cancers, such as small cell lung cancer. Recently, a large effort to create a 'genomic atlas' of bladder cancer showed that the small cell subtype is far more prevalent than previously realized. The misclassification of SCCB based on its microscopic appearance may be one reason for the poor outcomes associated with invasive bladder cancer, on the whole. Therefore, a system for more reliable identification of SCCB as well as research to develop more effective therapies for this disease are important public health imperatives. We have performed comprehensive gene expression profiling in a group of SCCB patients treated at the Cleveland Clinic over the past decade, including comparisons of matched normal tissue and metastatic disease. This cohort represents one of the largest ever reported for SCCB. Using this unique data, we have generated a gene signature which identifies SCCB based on its molecular characteristics. In addition, we found our signature was prognostic of disease outcome. In this proposal, our main objectives are to 1) validate our diagnostic and prognostic genetic signature for SCCB using two large external cohorts of urothelial bladder cancer patients and 2) to establish innovative laboratory models of SCCB to study the function of differentially expressed genes and determine their role in the biology of SCCB and potential as therapeutic targets.

In Other Words

We are generating innovative new laboratory models using CRISPR-Cas9 gene engineering to study aggressive bladder cancer. These models will lead to a better understanding of the origins of bladder cancer and strategies to overcome resistance to therapy.

2018 Award 17
Blood Cancer

Impact Award
Blood Cancer

Cancer Thrombosis

Principal Investigator

Taussig Cancer Institute
Co-Principal Investigator

We are using novel RNA sequencing techniques to identify unique small RNAs in the blood of cancer patients. We hope to generate RNA profiles to predict the risk of blood clots-a lethal complications of cancer- and cancer progression.

2018 Award 18
Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma

Pilot Award
Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma

Defining Markers of Radiosensitivity: Radiogenomic Profiling of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Principal Investigator

Staff, Pediatric, Hematology Oncology, & Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood, and the fourth most common pediatric solid tumor.  Despite advances in treatment strategies for patients with intermediate risk (localized) disease, patients with high risk (up-front metastatic or recurrent) disease continue to have a dismal prognosis, with EFS of less than 20%.  Patients who are who have the alveolar subtype of RMS are more likely to be treatment-refractory, but little is known about the mechanism behind which this occurs.  

Radiation therapy is the mainstay of local control measures for RMS.  Patients receive up to 50.4 Gy total dose, and attempts at dose reduction for patients with delayed primary excision failed to show benefit in previous Children’s Oncology Group studies.  Despite high-dose irradiation, 30% of patients with localized disease and up to >80% of patients with metastatic disease will have progression or recurrence of their disease.  Patients with embryonal histology are more likely to sustain a long-term response to chemoradiotherapy than patients with alveolar histology.  Additionally, few murine models of recurrent rhabomyosarcoma exist; a PDX model is needed for studying novel therapies in recurrent RMS.

As such, rhabdomyosarcoma offers a unique opportunity to further explore these genomic alterations and define their clinical implications. We have specific interest in correlating response to chemoradiotherapy with the presence and frequency of known and potentially newly discovered relevant mutations.  We hypothesize that whole genome sequencing analysis will reveal distinct genomic alterations between embryonal and alveolar histologic subtypes of rhabdomyosarcoma, and that patients who are responders to chemoradiotherapy will have distinct alterations compared to non-responders of chemoradiotherapy.

In Other Words

To identify genomic markers of chemoradiosensitivity within the two main subtypes of rhabdomyosarcoma, and to create a patient-derived xenograft model of chemoradioresistant rhabdomyosarcoma through which to study potential future targeted therapies.

2018 Award 19

Impact Award

Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia

Principal Investigator

Taussig Cancer Institute

2018 Award 20

Impact Award

Precision Radiotherapy

Principal Investigator

Taussig Cancer Institute
Radiotherapy is not currently informed by the genetic features of individual tumors. The goal of this award is to advance the incorporation of biologic (genetic) and imaging features that can guide its more precise use.

2018 Award 21
Quantitative Health Sciences

Impact Award
Quantitative Health Sciences

Dell High Performance Computing Cluster

Principal Investigator

Quantitative Health Sciences
Taussig Cancer Institute & Lerner Research Institute
Data science persists at the core of endeavors to advance clinical oncology practice through evidence-based approaches to cancer detection, prevention, and precision medicine. Endeavors to elucidate cancer mechanisms and establish novel treatment strategies explicitly depend on the skill with which our researchers extract signal from omics data and identify molecular targets. Through contributions to high performance computing infrastructure provided by VeloSano, Cleveland Clinic has expanded its capabilities in precision medicine analytics. The support enables state of the art statistical models and algorithms developed at Cleveland Clinic to be integrated into research with investigators at The Taussig Cancer Institute.

In Other Words

Through VeloSano’s impact, Cleveland Clinic will lead the cancer community in big data science.

2018 Award 22
Cancer Biology

Pilot Award
Cancer Biology

Using insertional mutagenesis to rapidly identify resistance mechanisms in cancer

Principal Investigator

Cancer Biology
Lerner Research Institute
We are using a new genetic method to identify how cancers eventually become resistant to drugs that initially inhibit their growth.  Knowledge of specific resistance mechanisms can lead to the development of new drugs or treatment strategies to overcome this problem.

2018 Award 23
Colon Cancer

Impact Award
Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer Metastasis

Principal Investigator

Lerner Research Institute
Co-Principal Investigator

Our group consists of scientists and doctors who treat colon cancer that has spread to organs outside the colon, such as into the liver. We are trying to examine the tumor cells and the cells in the neighborhood that result in this deadly disease.

2018 Award 24
Colon Cancer

Pilot Award
Colon Cancer

Evaluating the Efficacy of a Proposed 11 Step Community-Based Interventional Program to Educate, Assess Risk and Barriers, and Complete Colorectal Screening among Underserved African Americans

Principal Investigator

Hematology Oncology
Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Our study aims to evaluate the effect of a proposed community–based interventional program that will take the participant through a journey starting from the community outreach event, during which we assess individual risks and barriers, ending in completion of colorectal cancer screening. Colonoscopy is one of the few screening techniques that can prevent cancer by removal of worrisome abnormalities (polyps). Our study also aims to raise awareness of the benefits of CRC screening in this typically under-served African American population, which may ultimately lead to increased early detection and improved overall lifespan.

In Other Words

The diagnosis of colorectal cancer is unequal among various populations within the US, most notably among African Americans who exhibit the highest mortality of all US populations. Studies have shown that African Americans have lower rates of screening and decreased knowledge of colorectal cancer and screening guidelines than the general population. Our Taussig Community Outreach project aims to raise awareness of the benefits of colon cancer screening in the under-served African American population, which may ultimately lead to increased early detection and improved overall lifespan.

2018 Award 25
Clinical Trials

Impact Award
Clinical Trials

NCI Early Phase Therapeutic Trials/ Phase II Intent Consortium

Principal Investigator

Hematology Oncology
Taussig Cancer Institute
This VeloSano Impact Award will enable us to open several innovative clinical trials at Cleveland Clinic to test new cancer therapies.  These clinical trials will help patients with rare cancers or with common cancers who otherwise have no further treatment options.

2018 Award 26

Impact Award

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Principal Investigator

Taussig Cancer Institute
Small cell lung cancer is a terrible cancer, lethal to almost all patients within 2 years of diagnosis. New ways of treatment are thus needed. Our science suggests such a new way, based on restoring journeys of the cancer cells to their intended fates serving specialized functions for the body, rather than dividing relentlessly. The Velosano support is enabling the critical animal experiments which are the prelude to what we hope will be clinical trials quite soon.

2018 Award 28

Impact Award

Preventative Therapies for High Risk Melanoma Individuals

Principal Investigator

With a lifetime incidence rising over 12 fold in the last half-century, melanoma rates continue to dramatically rise in the United States, despite significant public health efforts to reduce ultraviolet radiation exposure, the best characterized environmental risk factor. Therefore, novel preventive approaches are needed to halt and potentially reverse this rapid rise. To pursue new avenues, we propose to focus on patients at extremely high risk for melanoma, where previous work has been generalizable to early sporadic (non-familial) melanoma development, and to uncover novel genetic mechanisms in these individuals. These are likely acquired early in melanoma initiation and can be targeted in new preventive approaches. 

Furthermore, recent twin studies have demonstrated high heritability for melanoma, with estimates of over 50% of risk related to genetic risk factors. Therefore, it is imperative to understand which individuals have an increased risk for melanoma, why they are at an elevated risk level, and what can be done to mitigate that higher melanoma risk level. We have identified multiple families where multiple family members have had melanoma (and some with increased rates of other cancers as well) for further study. Through the use of targeted cancer panel screening, whole exome & whole genome sequencing we propose to further characterize and/or identify novel genetic risk factors for melanoma. We will correlate this with functional laboratory work examining individual genes to better interrogate their role in melanoma. Using this functional understanding of how a specific gene is responsible for melanoma development, we will design novel preventive therapies to be used in these high risk melanoma individuals.

In Other Words

Design novel preventive therapies to be used in high risk melanoma individuals.

2018 Award 29

Impact Award


Principal Investigator

Lerner Research Institute

2018 Award 27
Multiple Cancer Types

Pilot Award
Multiple Cancer Types

Cleveland Clinic is part of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCCC), which is designed to promote research collaboration across the three member institutions: Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals. Team science is increasingly important for successful cancer research, and the CCCC is an excellent example of such teamwork across these three organizations.
CCCC had numerous teams participate in VeloSano 4, and as part of our collaboration they received $500,000 of the funds raised in 2017.

Below is a summary of the funded CCCC Pilot Awards:

A Refillable Drug Delivery Device Capable of Treating Recurrent Brain Tumors
Horst von Recum, Ph.D

The Oncogenic Impact of LIN9 in Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Ruth Keri, Ph.D

Combating resistance to immune checkpoint inhibition; identifying new targets using in vivo forward genetics screening
Mark Jackson, Ph.D
Lewis Shi, M.D.,Ph.D

Targeting Hexosamine Biosynthetic Pathway for Acute Myeloid Leukemia therapy
Reshmi Parameswaran, Ph.D

Targeting thioredoxin reductase in AML
David Wald, M.D.,Ph.D

Novel molecular signatures in Shh Medulloblastoma defines immune phenotypes and predicts immunotherapeutic response
Alex Huang, M.D.,Ph.D

Identifying the molecular targets of mistletoe lectin I for drug development in hepatocellular carcinoma
Richard Lee, M.D.

Award 18
Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma

Impact Award
Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma

Quantification of therapeutic responses in pediatric and AYA Hodgkin Lymphoma patients via detection of circulating tumor DNA

Principal Investigator

Pediatric Hematology Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Lymphoma is a neoplasm caused by malignant transformation of lymphoid cells; it is the third most frequent (12-15%) malignancy in children and the most frequent type of malignancy in early AYA population (15-24 years of age). Advances in understanding of lymphoma biology led to development of the risk- and response-adapted therapies, which made lymphomas to be one of the most curable pediatric cancers. The disease-free survival following completion of therapy exceeds 85% for the majority of lymphoma patients. FDG-PET/CT is an important diagnostic tool for pre-treatment clinical risk stratification as well as assessment of the therapeutic response following chemotherapy. However there is concern about increased risk for secondary cancer from radiation exposure in addition to chemotherapy effect.

The Adaptive immunoSEQ® for MRD Assay uses NGS technology for the detection, quantification and analysis of minimal residual disease/minimal detectable disease (MRD/MDD) in patients previously diagnosed with lymphoid leukemia. The assay employs multiplex PCR, high throughput sequencing, and a proprietary algorithm for the purpose of evaluating lymphoid clonal distribution and expansion in genomic DNA extracted from samples such as lymph node, peripheral blood or bone marrow. The detection of the acellular, patient-unique, cHL-only specific ctDNA is a truly pioneering approach capable of documenting complete remission and/or disease recurrence at the subcellular level. it could decrease risk of secondary cancers by eliminating radiation exposure and it also will help with children quality of life to eliminate the need for sedation that is required for many during PET CT scan.

In Other Words

Determining Complete Remission of Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma at a Subcellular Level Without Need to Do Imaging

If it Weren't for Funding From VeloSano

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“For us, it’s a catalyst,” Justin Lathia, PhD, says about the philanthropic support his lab receives from VeloSano, the year-round community-driven fundraising initiative to support lifesaving cancer research at Cleveland Clinic.

VeloSano’s flagship fundraising event, the annual “Bike to cure” weekend, takes place this year on July 19-21. Since the inaugural ride in 2014, more than $17 million has been raised, with 100% of those funds supporting 115 cancer research projects across 11 different institutes and regional locations. Beyond the $17 million allocated by VeloSano, over $14 million in additional, external grants has been received due to the promise shown by VeloSano-funded projects.

“The unfortunate reality in research is that good ideas are a dime a dozen,” says Dr. Lathia, Vice Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Sciences at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. “The challenge is getting an idea funded and off the ground. For that you need proof of principle, you need preliminary data, you need a demonstration – because there’s nothing worse than not knowing if an idea will work. And that’s where philanthropy comes in.”

Dr. Lathia’s research focuses on glioblastoma, the highly aggressive form of brain cancer that took the lives of U.S. Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, and former National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Bernadine Healy, who was Cleveland Clinic’s first female Chair of the Lerner Research Institute.

Dr. Lathia says to think about research funding like an investor: Would you invest in a company that doesn’t have a product? Would you invest in a company that doesn’t have a prototype? “The answer’s no, right?” he says. “So it’s that initial funding that we need in order to ratchet it up and get additional funding.”

VeloSano’s Pilot Awards Provide Essential Seed Funding

His lab has received three Pilot Awards from VeloSano. The funding from those awards furthered his research and already has helped secure several larger federal grants.

The first Pilot Award, in 2014, supported Dr. Lathia’s investigation into why glioblastoma are immunosuppressive – meaning that the body’s immune system doesn’t work properly to fight the tumor cells. “We have been laser-focused on a group of cells that sit in your bone marrow and only become activated during disease, so these cells are called suppressor cells,” he explains. “It turns out that suppressor cells seem to be really high in glioblastoma patient blood as well as in the tumor micro-environment. We’ve been working on this for a while, and one of the things we figured out is that we can actually kill them by giving low-dose chemo.”

This project led Dr. Lathia’s team to discover that there are differences in male and female glioblastoma. The team believes there are genetic differences in the immune system and differences in reaction overall to glioblastoma – which is a huge discovery, says Dr. Lathia. “This entire project started with me being wrong about a hypothesis and I feel like every time I’m wrong again, it gets more interesting,” he says, laughing. “To me, that’s the exciting, tantalizing part of research – when I’m wrong.”

This research now is in a Phase 1 clinical trial and, thanks to the seed funding from VeloSano, recently was awarded a prestigious, five-year, $2 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

His lab received a second Pilot Award in 2016 to help fund another glioblastoma research project. “Over the past seven years my lab has been working to demonstrate that there are specific channels between cells that allow them to communicate with each other. These are really important for the cancer cells to grow and expand,” Dr. Lathia says. Although the research received an NIH R01 grant, the funding did not support the development of a drug therapy. The VeloSano grant provided support to try to develop inhibitors to a specific channel that’s only used by glioblastoma cells. The research continues and has a patent pending on the drug strategy.

The third Pilot Award was given last year and supports the research of cell-to-cell communication in triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive type of breast cancer. Dr. Lathia’s team discovered that cancer stem cells play a significant role and that a protein once thought to suppress tumors actually may support tumor progression by aiding in cell-to-cell communication. Working collaboratively with Ofer Reizes, PhD, holder of The Laura J. Fogarty Endowed Chair for Uterine Cancer Research and a six-year VeloSano rider, the team is developing new therapies. They’ve already filed for a drug patent and have received promising feedback from a larger scale grant funder to support additional studies.

‘An Amazing Investment’

In addition to benefiting from VeloSano, Dr. Lathia participates, raising a minimum of $1,000 to ride 25 miles and serving as the captain of the Lerner Research Institute team. He says VeloSano weekend gives cancer researchers the rare opportunity to interact with the public about their work.

“At the Friday Night Kickoff Party during VeloSano weekend, I meet a lot of people; when I’m riding, I talk to people,” he says. “I thank them for riding and explain about the work in the lab. VeloSano really gives us the chance to tell the community what we do and what we’re up to in the lab. To me, it’s an amazing investment. And it’s done in a way that every single penny that is raised comes back to cancer research and is spent in a year.”

Dr. Lathia is passionate about his work at Cleveland Clinic. “This is something we do better than any other place I’ve seen,” he says. “We have the ability to move quickly to make an impact on human health.”

VeloSano Funding Leads to Major Grant from NIH

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A Cleveland Clinic cancer research project, which received initial funding from dollars raised during VeloSano 2 in 2015, has been awarded a $4.7 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The new funding will support a Cleveland Clinic-led research consortium, which will focus on developing strategies to prevent cancer-associated thrombosis (blood clot formation), a potential side effect of cancer treatment.

Seed Funding Pays Off
In 2016, Keith McCrae, MD, Director of Hematology at the Taussig Cancer Institute, and Alok Khorana, MD, Director of the Gastrointestinal Malignancies program at the Taussig Cancer Institute, received a VeloSano Impact Award for $150,000 per year over three years, initiated through Cleveland Clinic's Center of Excellence in Cancer Thrombosis Research. The seed funding allowed the research to advance and become eligible for federal funding.

Dale Shepard, MD, PhD, Director, Taussig Cancer Institute Phase I and Sarcoma Programs, and Co-Medical Director of VeloSano, is please about the grant from NHLBI. "Both Dr. McCrae and Dr. Khorana, who holds the Sondra and Stephen Hardis Chair in Oncology Research, have been working on cancer thrombosis for a long time," he says.

Federal funding for medical research continues to be extremely competitive, and Dr. Shepard says that philanthropic support of the initial stages of research is crucial to  securing additional support. “NIH funding is now often directed toward teams rather than individual labs. VeloSano is helping to fund Cleveland Clinic’s Centers  of Excellence to support our investigators as they develop more comprehensive research programs to work together instead of in silos.”

VeloSano Support Makes a Difference
Dr. Shepard believes that more external funding from projects supported by VeloSano will occur as more of the initial research is completed. "The roughly $12.4 million of external funding received so far is primarily from the first two years of support from VeloSano," he says. "Many of the projects from subsequent years have not yet been completed or those results are in the process of being used to write grant proposals."

Dr. Shepard cautions that it takes more than a great idea to get funding for cancer research. "It takes preliminary research to show that the investigators can do the work, that the work is feasible and that there is a good chance for success," he says. "This is one of the most important ways VeloSano can help push forward the next steps toward better cancer therapies and perhaps a cure: Funding great ideas by our Cleveland Clinic researchers and allowing them the resources to potentially move those ideas closer to reality."

2018 Top Fundraisers

2018 Top Fundraising Riders

  1. Stewart & Donna Kohl
  2. Paul Dolan
  3. Bob Rich
  4. Len Pagon
  5. Barbara, Kelley & Kayla Kerscher
  6. Anne Avis
  7. Greg Avis
  8. Terry Sullivan
  9. Craig Manchen
  10. Bill Mulligan

2018 Top Fundraising Virtual Riders

  1. Jaroslaw Maciejewski
  2. Amanda Maggiotto
  3. James Stevenson
  4. Alan Lichtin
  5. Zumi Pig
  6. Amanda Barney
  7. Charis Eng
  8. Nicole Peters
  9. Jame Abraham
  10. Kandis Schreiber

2018 Teams                                                                       

Team Name Riders & Virtual Riders Total Dollars Raised
Accenture 15 $15,173.00
ADCOM CYCLING TEAM 32 $37,888.00
American Greetings 9 $11,169.00
Ancora 11 $11,425.00
Assurant Cares: Team Westlake 6 $5,985.00
Basic Health International 1 $25.00
BDO USA 19 $49,237.00
Beans & Weenies 4 $4,345.00
BrandMuscle 27 $20,168.00
Cardinal Health 26 $40,967.00
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Team 70 $62,636.00
CBIZ 3 $1,936.00
CBRE Cleveland 22 $36,000.00
Chagrin Falls Fire Department 5 $14,125.00
Charles' Cycling Club 5 $5,100.00
CLE Connect 1 $1,000.00
Cleveland Clinic Beachcliff Family Medicine 1 $1,665.00
Cleveland Clinic Brainiacs 7 $3,545.00
Cleveland Clinic Children’s 35 $25,531.00
Cleveland Clinic Florida - Maroone Cancer Center 4 $14,902.00
Cleveland Clinic International 30 $19,280.00
Cleveland Clinic ITD 8 $11,487.00
Cleveland Clinic Sleep Cycles 14 $23,050.00
Cleveland Clinic Wheels of Steel - B&P 32 $65,412.00
Cleveland Clinic: Akron General 6 $16,187.00
Cleveland Clinic: CC Ventures (Innovations-Ventures-Investments) 24 $25,666.00
Cleveland Clinic: Fairview Hospital 13 $12,254.00
Cleveland Clinic: Lerner Research Institute 47 $35,966.00
Cleveland Clinic: Liver Cancer 1 $25.00
Cleveland Clinic: Make it Rain (Philanthropy Institute) 106 $172,309.00
Cleveland Clinic: Medina Hospital 4 $5,187.00
Cleveland Clinic: Nursing Institute 19 $23,184.00
Cleveland Clinic: ONEHR Rides 5 $8,396.00
Cleveland Clinic: Pepsin Pedalers 25 $25,730.00
Cleveland Clinic: Region Legion 24 $24,471.00
Cleveland Clinic: STAMP Out Cancer 23 $18,545.00
Cleveland Clinic: TA Riders 2 $1,035.00
Cleveland Clinic: Taussig Cyclotrons 218 $383,649.00
Cleveland Clinic: Team Cleveland Clinic 17 $25,461.00
Cleveland Clinic: Team South Pointe 11 $4,223.00
Cleveland Indians 92 $202,631.00
Cleveland Research Company 9 $8,350.00
Cleveland StARTup Collective 10 $34,696.00
Colliers International 1 $5,655.00
Dad and Daughter 2 $645.00
DiFranco Duo 2 $1,050.00
DOMINATORS 5 $11,005.00
Donley Turner HEC 32 $40,441.00
Ed and Sandy 2 $1,705.00
Eddie's Angels 5 $4,395.00
Endurance Inspired by Hope 3 $3,439.00
Faster Than a Speeding Turtle 2 $1,125.00
Fidelity Roadfrogs 2 $2,315.00
FIT Technologies 8 $5,335.00
Flying Frank 3 $10,764.00
Forest City Realty Trust 6 $6,293.00
Fortune Brands GPG/MOEN 18 $24,075.00
Frantz Ward 1 $1,025.00
Friedley's Finest 2 $1,165.00
GARDINER 5 $14,056.00
Glenmede 7 $17,735.00
Goodyear 7 $16,350.00
Great Lakes Cheese 7 $9,380.00
Hermes 2 $2,550.00
Hudson Velo 35 $53,254.00
Integra Connect 10 $5,058.00
Jacobs Family Riders 2 $1,438.00
Jones Day 36 $86,884.00
Karlovec & Company 3 $4,186.00
Kick Some Carcinoid 2 $2,150.00
Kicking Cancer in the Crankshaft 3 $4,230.00
KPMG 39 $41,895.00
LaBella 2 $1,720.00
Lilly Oncology 6 $8,797.00
Luciano Family Foundation 2 $8,645.00
Market & Network Services 9 $8,935.00
McDonald Hopkins 7 $9,043.00
MegaCycle 2 $840.00
Merrill Lynch/Bank of America 4 $15,582.00
Mighty Biobankers 4 $3,920.00
Migraine 1 $1,744.00
More Than Gourmet 2 $2,020.00
Murray Pranksters 2 $2,865.00
Nestle 10 $19,239.00
New York Life Insurance Company 1 $5,576.00
Oatey 58 $90,007.00
Perpetual Peddlers 1 $1,005.00
Quicken Loans 10 $10,750.00
Robots & Pencils/J3/Redwood/Resilience 50 $93,968.00
Sam LiBassi Foundation 1 $2,500.00
Sandy’s Domestiques 17 $96,341.00
Sherwin-Williams 15 $18,912.00
Smucker's 3 $3,422.00
Snavely Group 2 $3,080.00
Spin for Stu 43 $87,812.00
Squire Patton Boggs 23 $28,674.00
Swagelok 6 $6,555.00
Team 1:9 13 $27,865.00
Team Brawner 3 $4,800.00
Team Calfee 10 $21,010.00
Team Celgene 1 $1,550.00
Team Cinghiale 2 $1,155.00
TEAM CLE 9 $8,089.00
Team Cleveland 13 $865.00
Team Deloitte 14 $10,205.00
Team EverGreen 10 $6,671.00
Team EY 7 $8,896.00
Team FOX Sports 13 $14,095.00
Team Grant Thornton 9 $6,300.00
Team Hiccup 2 $755.00
Team Hileman 19 $14,368.00
Team IHG 10 $7,499.00
Team Ivanka 2 $2,255.00
Team Key 65 $80,584.00
TEAM LEXUS Metro | Akron/Canton 30 $15,175.00
Team Litzler Automation 9 $35,940.00
Team M.A.G. 10 $7,860.00
Team Marcus Thomas 5 $6,904.00
Team Margy 2 $1,035.00
Team Northern Trust 2 $5,310.00
Team Oswald 17 $23,848.00
Team PwC 62 $72,726.00
Team RSM 19 $23,355.00
Team RT-PLMI 14 $9,974.00
Team Rusher 2 $1,660.00
Team Shotgun 1 $2,136.00
Team Ten30 3 $1,615.00
Team TrishyStrong 30 $24,730.00
Team Ulmer & Berne LLP 6 $6,917.00
Team Wendy 10 $21,900.00
Team WKYC 7 $5,674.00
Team Woody 1 $500.00
The Lerner Foundation 38 $72,496.00
The Mommagrams 7 $4,085.00
The Pedaling Pandyas 3 $1,100.00
The Riverside Company 56 $259,318.00
The Spinners 4 $3,560.00
The Wheel Deal 3 $1,780.00
Tony's Crew 8 $15,043.00
Tour De Friends 2 $1,485.00
Velo Vino 26 $27,512.00
Versaflex-Raven 3 $7,255.00
Vocon 21 $60,778.00
Wagners4thecure 4 $1,835.00
Welch's Wheelers 2 $2,300.00
Wheelie Common Taters 2 $2,575.00
Wheeling for Healing 9 $40,181.00
Winne the Pooh Bears 1 $25.00

Living Hope

Our Living Hope community of Riders, Virtual Riders and Volunteers who are current cancer patients, people in recovery and those who are cancer survivors bring to VeloSano stories of their journeys and their own personal reasons for “Why I Ride”.

Living Hope

This special community provides Hope for recovery; Hope for a cure; and Hope for the day when there will be no cancer. Every year we unite to share in their journeys and to celebrate recovery, remission and support those who are battling cancer. Every year we Bike to cure.

We honor our Living Hope community — you inspire us!

Living Hope

Our Partners

The ability to provide 100% of participant raised dollars to cancer research would not be possible without our Partners.

VeloSano's flagship fundraising initiative, "Bike to cure" weekend, attracts participants from all over the world. One-day ride options range from 12-100 miles and a Two-Day 190+ mile experience is also available. Each rider commits to raise a particular amount of money and 100% of the dollars raised are awarded directly to research by spring of the following year. Corporate and Foundation Partnerships offset VeloSano "Bike to cure" operational expenses through monetary or in-kind services to ensure that not one dollar raised is spent on anything other than research.

Please scroll through the list below to view all of our amazing partners:

Founding Partners

Cleveland Indians

Supporting Partners

Adcom Group
Jones Day Foundation
Zack Bruell Events


DiGeronimo Companies
Lilly Oncology
Michelob ULTRA


Hileman Group
Hilton Cleveland
The Lerner Foundation
Panera Bread
Van Cleef & Arpels


Barbasol - Pure Silk
The Stielau Foundation


Giant Eagle
Gross Residential
MCPc Family Charities


Cleveland's Star 102
ESPN Cleveland
Fox SportsTime Ohio
iHeart Media WGAR

Special Thanks

Bike Cleveland
City of Cleveland Ohio
Cleveland Clinic Emergency Services Institue
Cleveland Clinic Sports Health
City of Cleveland Water
Petitti Garden Centers
South East Golf Car Company

Big Wheelers

Big Wheelers


Our VeloSano Big Wheelers are Riders who at least double their minimum fundraising commitment or Virtual Riders who raise $1,000 or more. We have more and more Big Wheelers every year and are truly grateful to them for going above and beyond as they fundraise for cancer research at Cleveland Clinic. During VeloSano 5, we had a total of 436 Big Wheelers that included 384 Riders and 52 Virtual Riders. Each year we treat our Big Wheelers with some special garb, so if you see them sporting their gear around town, be sure to give them a big thank you - they're a big deal!

Tom Abelson
Jame Abraham
Richard Adams
Elizabeth Adriano
Zubair Ahmed
Geoff Aldridge
Kyle Allen
Jim Alunni
Michelle Amato
Chris Anderson
John Anderson
Stephen Anderson
Keith Arian
Leslye Arian
Samantha Arth
Anne Avis
Greg Avis
Sandra Avis
Todd Avis
Mark Baker
Sarah Balch
Marcus Baratian
Amanda Barney
Patty Barrett
Wael Barsoum
Jennifer Bates
Emily Bauer
Craig Belec
Allen Bender
Robert Bender
Jeff Berlin
Ellen Bizjak
Dan Boarman
Brian Bolwell
Mike Bosner
Nancy Bradshaw
Erin Brady Curtis
Beth Brand
Mark Brandt
David Brewster
Mark Brown
Francesca Brunello Nomina
Tom Budd
Patrick Burke
Julie Callsen
Craig Campbell
Joycelin Canavan
Sarah Carino
Allison Carney
Hetty Carraway
Kara Carter
Robert Case
Janelle Chamberlin
Samuel Chao
Susie Chaplin
Mike Chase
Joseph Chura
Gino Ciarimboli
Tom Cicarella
Heidi Coburn
Michael Coburn
Kathryn Coffman
Joanne Cohen
Nan Cohen
Anthony Constantine
Chandler Converse
Mac Converse
Calla Cornett
Paul Cseplo
Gerard Daher
Ryan Dailey
Dimitrios Davalos
Jillian Davis
Chad Deal
Rob Dean
John Deignan
Conor Delaney
Phyllis Desantis
James Deuschle
Rocco Dilillo
Ruthann DiLillo
Giorgio DiPaolo
Paul Dolan
Jennifer Donaldson
Debbie Donley
Mac Donley
Dave Doren
Yonatan Doron
Peter Dougherty
Coleen Dowdall
Don Dreier
Jolene Dyer
Tara Dzialak
Chris Easton
Patricia Easton
Jeff Ehrbar
James Elios
Paul Elliott
Charis Eng
Kayla Engle
Kelley Engle
Ashley Ervin
Kate Eshleman
Bassam Estfan
Yasmeen Estfan
Eric Evers
Caroline Farrington
Christina Ferraro
Claire Firrell
Jon Fitch
Judy Ann Forbes
Mike Ford
Megan Fortney Smith
Rebecca Frazier
Beth Furlong
Bryan Furlong
Courtney Furwa
Pamela Gamier
Jorge Garcia
Phil Gard
David Garson
Cathy Gaw
Matthew Geiger
Mariah George
Mike George
Aaron Gerds
Stan Gerson
Melissa Giambrone
Bill Gillen
Pradeep Giri
Mathew Gleeson
Michael Gleydura
Rajeev Gopalakrishnan
Nathan Greene
Dave Grinnell
Lindsay Guzowski
Logan Haberny
Peter Halemba
Susan Halloran
Gregory Halter
Aaron Hamilton
Betty Hamilton
Miles Hamilton
Kelly Hancock
Kevin Harkey
Josh Harley
Kathy Hart
Daniel Haynes
Brendan Hearns
Graham Hearns
Kelsey Hearns
Kerianne Hearns
Christina Hein
Matt Hein
Sarah Hein
Caroline Hilber
Amy Hill
Brian Hobbs
Tim Hofer
Jacque Hoyt
Fred Hufgard
Brian Hurtuk
Bryan Hyla
Lauren Imperial
John Irvin
Bud Isaacson
Kathy Isaacson
Jeremy Jacobs
Michael Jacobs
Morgan Jacobs-Schreiber
John Jewell
Cory Jeziorski
Megan Jones
Matt Kalaycio
Jen Kappler
Steve Karklin
Jim Karlovec
Paul Katz
Laura Keglovic
Christopher Kerr
Barbara Kerscher
AJ Kidwell
Joe Kidwell
Mary Kiener
Jeff King
John Kingston
Joshua Klarfeld
Frank Klein
Omer Koc
Donna Kohl
Stewart Kohl
Steven Kohn
Lindsey Kolesky
Jeremy Komasz
Mary Kornelakis
Kristi Kowalski
Shlomo Koyfman
John Kozsey
Lisa Krejci
Amy Kubacki
Jim Kubacki
Allie Kula
Casey Kula
Jeff Kula
Lisa Kula
Kathleen Laing
Leslie Lang
Carla Laning
Chris Lee
Daesung Lee
Dennis Lehman
Sarah Lehmann
Maria Lemon
Alicia Lenhart
Bill Leonard
Brian Leonard
Joe Lerner
Brian LeRoy
Philip LiBassi
Alan Lichtin
Matt Litzler
Michael Livermore
Andrew Logar
Daniel Luciano
Nicole Lutz
Jaroslaw Maciejewski
MaryBeth Madonia
Paul Madonia
Amanda Maggiotto
Kate Malone
Mary Kay Malone
Craig Manchen
Herrick Mann
Joe Manning
Keith Mannor
Steven Manos
Matt Manosky
Bindu Manyam
Peter Mapp
David Marazita
Joel Marcus
Craig Martin
Sydney Martin
Laurie Masters
Tom Mayor
Keith McCrae
John McCullough
Matthew McDonnell
Francois McGillicuddy
Ben McKelvey
Stacey McKinley
Chris McMahan
TJ McManamon
Lynne Meredith
Terrence Messerman
Natalie Meyer
Omar Mian
Matthew Michrina
Tomislav Mihaljevic
Bishoy Mikhail
Susan Mikhail
Thomas Milewski
Peter Miller
Carolinn Mills
Laura Mimura
Sonia Mintun
Denise Mirtich
Robbie Mocilnikar
Tilman Moe
Rebecca Molyneaux
Greg Montagano
Emily Monteleone
Melicia Montgomery
Anthony Morabito
Jennifer Morabito
Ed Muckley
Bill Mulligan
Rob Myers
Jake Myron
Carm Nagella
Anne Neff
Camila Negret
David Neundorfer
Jennifer Neundorfer
Victoria Newman
Maisie Nowlin
Ryan Nowlin
Gary Oatey
Keith O'Connell
Mary Pat O'Connor
Wycliffe Odhiambo
Sue Omori
Greg Osborne
Richard Padgett
Len Pagon
William Palliser
Aphrodite Papadakis
Amy Pappas
Neetha Parameswaran
Amy Parks
Mary Beth Pate
Ashley Pawlus
Holly Pederson
Melisa Peline
Nathan Pennell
Louis Perry
Matt Peters
Nicole Peters
Andrew Pifer
Samantha Pifer
Zumi Pig
Brad Pohlman
Julia Pollock
Larry Pollock
Frank Porter
Lori Posk
Anna Powell
Julie Powell
Joan Price
Jason Radel
Craig Reagor
Chris Rebant
Sharon Reichart
Ofer Reizes
Neal Restivo
Kristin Ricci
Bob Rich
Howard Rich
Paul Rich
Stephen Rich
Robert Rich III
Timothy Richards
Ron Ring
Brian Rini
Robert Ristau
Bill Riter
Lynda Roberts
Jeffrey Rooks
Morgan Rooks
Mark Ross
Allen Roth
Austin Roth
Sharon Roth
Eliza Saada
John Saada
Christy Samaras
Michael Schaefer
Leanne Scharf
Tom Scharf
Peter Scheid
Brittany Schreiber
Kandis Schreiber
Ryan Schreiber
Brett Schumacher
Janet Schuster
Sarah Schwarz
Jacob Scott
Matt Segal
Sandy Selby
Marc Shapiro
Dale Shepard
Chris Short
Jonathan Simmons
Mike Simoniello
Anne Singer
Jay Singer
Renee Singley
David Sires
Sam Slezak
Ronald Sobecks
Timothy Spiro
Dana Stachowski
Kevin Stadtlander
Rob Stall
Ben Stapleton
David Stapleton
Lisa Stapleton
Doreen Stark
Harry Steindler
Mitchell Steindler
James Stevenson
Katie Stovsky
Rich Stovsky
Hannah Strominger
Marianne Stroud
Todd Stroud
Jagadeesh Sudarshana
John Suh
Terry Sullivan
Andrea Sutterer
Ray Swanson
Sheila Swartzlander
Chris Thomas
John Thomas
Owen Timura
Wren Timura
Eric Tischler
Lea Titas
Colleen Tredway
Stephanie Trudeau
Frank Turek
Rodney Twells
Lori Vajdich
Jason Valent
Kierston Vaughn
Geoff Vince
Steve Viny
Robert Waitkus
Sally Wajahn
Jim Walker
Margo Walker
Morgan Walker
Jerry Warsaw
Dana Weiss
Jennifer Weixel
Beth Welch
Morris Wheeler
Kristie Winfield
Nelson Wittenmyer
Mary Wright
Donna Wrinkle
Aldo Zappa
Andrew Zelasco

The Team



Stewart Kohl The Riverside Company

2018 CO-ChairS

Paul Dolan Cleveland Indians
John Saada Jones Day

2018 Medical Chair

Brian J. Bolwell, M.D.

2018 MEDICAL Co-Chairs

Dale Shepard, M.D. Medical Co-Chair
Rabi Hanna, M.D. Pediatric Co-Chair

Team VeloSano (pictured above left to right)

Beth Brand, Director
Nicole Peters, Executive Director
Mohammed Farunia, Assistant Director
Kandis Schreiber, Director

2018 Steering Committee

John Anderson WKYC Channel 3
Greg Avis Bangtail Partners
Mark Brandt The Northern Trust Company
Aeron Burns Lilly Oncology
Kara Carter JumpStart, Inc.
Loren Chylla Adcom
Michael Coburn Nestle USA
Joanne Cohen Cleveland Clinic
Chandler Converse CBRE
Deborah Donley Vocon
Dave Doren Cleveland Clinic
Peter Dougherty Merrill Lynch
Don Dreier Donley’s
Caroline El Sanadi Diamsome Pharmaceuticals
Hiroyuki Fujita Quality Electrodynamics (QED)
Bryan Furlong KPMG
Samir Ghousheh FSASTORE.COM
Tom Hileman Hileman Group
Andy Jones MCPc
Joshua Klarfeld Ulmer & Berne LLP
Denise Kramer Zack Bruell Events
Jeff Kula Cleveland Clinic
Jim LaRose House of LaRose
William Leonard Oswald Companies
Matt Litzler C.A. Litzler Co.
Craig Manchen Highland Group Industries
Peter Mapp Lexus
Valarie McCall City of Cleveland
Francois McGillicuddy Fox Sports Ohio
Linda McHugh Cleveland Clinic
William Mulligan Primus Capital
Jennifer Neundorfer flashstarts
Len Pagon Next Sparc LLC
Larry Pollock Lucky Stars Partners LLC
Neal Restivo Oatey Co.
Mark Ross PwC
Renee Singley The Lerner Foundation
Mitch Thompson Squire Patton Boggs
Rodney Twells Compass Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
Jacob VanSickle Bike Cleveland
Steve Viny Envision Waste Services LLC
Jerald Warsaw SureSite
Morris Wheeler Drummond Road Capital

Thank you for being part of the VeloSano family.

Your support helps advance innovative cancer research at Cleveland Clinic, making a positive impact on the lives of patients and their families. Thank you! We look forward to seeing you for VeloSano 6 "Bike to cure" Weekend: July 19-21, 2019!