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Spirit of ovarian cancer advocate keeps fundraising drive on track

PHOENIX, Ariz. April 20, 2010 The Anne Rita Monahan Foundation recently presented $15,000 for ovarian cancer research to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

That amount brings to $50,000 the total amount raised by the organization named for Anne Rita Monahan, a Phoenix woman who used her initials to encourage women to "ARM yourself against ovarian cancer."

Funds were raised at the 2nd annual Tea for TEAL, the color associated with ovarian cancer. The English-style tea for 160 people was held Feb. 2 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, the first time the event was held after Monahan lost her battle to ovarian cancer in May. She was 47.

"I still felt her presence there," said Richard Corley, Treasurer of the ARM Foundation and a life-long friend of Monahan. "It was very sad for her not to grace the event. She had such a personality. Everyone would have wanted to hear what she had to say."

Monahan started her foundation in 2007, six years after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with the mission to eradicate this disease. Her foundation has continued her efforts to make woman aware of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, to encourage early detection, minimize misdiagnosis and fund research into developing evidence-based rationales for precision therapy and a reliable screening test.

A 3rd annual Tea for TEAL is planned next spring, perhaps closer to Mother's Day, said Rachel Busch, President of the ARM Foundation. "I'd like to see us continue with Anne's dream."

That includes eventually reaching Monahan's fundraising goal of $100,000 for TGen's ovarian cancer research.

Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Head of TGen's Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Unit, said the ARM Foundation has enabled TGen to work with two hospitals with two additional sites approved for launch shortly to consent ovarian cancer patients to donate excess tissues to facilitate TGen's research effort.

"We have Anne's photos all over our lab," Dr. Cunliffe said. "She is really an inspiration, and her personal story empowers us to find a solution as fast as possible. Anne's determination and passion to eradicate ovarian cancer intensifies our efforts."

TGen launched a prospective biospecimen acquisition protocol in June 2009 with the aim of collecting 100 ovarian tumors for research. Biospecimens are preserved following strict procedures designed by Dr. Cunliffe's lab to facilitate state-of-the-art genomic characterization of ovarian cancer. Outcomes anticipated include advanced diagnostic and predictive measures to guide optimal treatment decisions.

"This is a highly heterogeneous and complex disease," Dr. Cunliffe said. "The technology we have available today is ideally suited to solving the severe problem of drug-resistant ovarian cancer. A significant additional benefit will be identification of more robust diagnostic biomarkers for the earlier detection of disease onset".

"Anne would be so proud of that," Corley said. "Thirteen women fighting ovarian cancer today are allowing TGen to make discoveries that will benefit women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer all because of the work that she started."

Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation, said funds from the ARM Foundation are making a significant difference in advancing research into ovarian cancer. "We are honored to be carrying on the work inspired by Anne Rita Monahan. Her legacy will be earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments for patients with this devastating disease."

Monahan was an honors graduate of Boston College in Business Administration, earned a Masters of Business Administration at Arizona State University, and retired as a small-business counselor with Maricopa County.


Contact: Steve Yozwiak
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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