Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Award $20 Million to Support Innovative Cancer Research

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Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Award $20 Million to Support Innovative Cancer Research

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced $20 million was awarded to researchers around the state as part of the Cancer Innovation Fund. These projects further promote cancer innovation, research, and lifesaving care for Florida’s patients. To watch the full press conference, click here.

“Funding innovation in cancer research and care has been a priority of this administration,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Through our historic investments in the treatment of cancer, we are keeping Florida patients and clinicians at the forefront of the mission to fight back against this terrible disease.”

“Florida is unleashing the power of innovation against cancer,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “While technology improves at an exponential rate, it can take years for patients to get access to new treatments. With this funding, Florida is bolstering state-of-the-art research to detect and fight cancer.”

Following the announcement, members of the Cancer Connect Collaborative held a roundtable to discuss how Florida is fostering cancer innovation and setting the standard for cancer research. Two awardees of this funding presented their projects to the Collaborative:

Utilizing Biomarkers to Detect Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer can unfortunately have a devastating prognosis with limited therapeutic options, in part due to early metastasis – oftentimes with a survival rate of less than a year. This project will work to distinguish biomarkers to support early detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by providing a resource for detection of pancreatic cancer in available patient samples. Dr. Cody Wehrkamp, a Research Fellow at Mayo Clinic, presented this project to the Collaborative.

Improving Rural Access to Breast Cancer Screenings

This project fosters innovation through a Florida university consortium (University of West Florida, Florida A&M University, University of Miami, University of Florida) to increase access to breast cancer screenings in rural areas of the Panhandle. The goal is to enhance early detection among rural women who would otherwise not receive preventative care, increasing their risk of mortality. Dr. Justice Mbizo, an associate professor from the University of West Florida, presented information on the program at today’s roundtable.

“First Lady Casey DeSantis’ personal experience and passion for fighting cancer has ignited unparalleled efforts to bend the curve of cancer outcomes in Florida,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “This funding will foster greater innovation which I am confident will improve the lives of patients at risk for or diagnosed with cancer in our great state and around the world.”

Funding opportunities to support research initiatives like those we have heard today will allow researchers to uncover actionable data and create tangible results in cancer care,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida. “First Lady Casey DeSantis is making sure that as technology rapidly improves, its application to health care moves at the same speed.”

“This is yet another example of the important work being led by First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Cancer Connect Collaborative,” said Collaborative member and Chair of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Representative Sam Garrison. “Dedicated funding in support of innovative cancer research will help Florida families fight cancer at every stage.”

About Florida Cancer Connect

The Cancer Connect Collaborative is an expansion of Cancer Connect, an initiative launched by First Lady Casey DeSantis in August 2022 to provide cancer information and survivor stories. Florida is second in the nation for newly diagnosed cancer cases. First Lady DeSantis is committed to supporting those facing cancer and promoting the world-class care Florida offers cancer patients. No matter how cancer is affecting someone, support is available for them and can be found at Florida Cancer Connect.