For decades, cancer has been the second most common leading cause of death in the United States. Though data shows that death rates from cancer in the U.S. have fallen some 31% between 1991 and 2018, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that rates for certain types of cancers - particularly lung cancer - have plateaued before slowly rising again between 2014-2018. As such, some 1.9 million new cancer cases are projected to be diagnosed in the U.S. throughout 2021, with approximately one-third of those cases (roughly 600,000) expected to lead to fatalities.
One of the leading issues with cancer, regardless of type, is the disconnect that exists between innovators who work to develop promising technologies in the fight against cancer and the funding vehicles that are necessary to bring their innovations from the laboratory to the pharmacy. This disconnection, known as the “Valley of Death,” is where those innovative technologies go to die not because of bad science but because of funding gaps and fully impedes progress in reducing the burden of cancer on society.
Kickstarting the Crowdfunding Model of Cancer Research
The existence of the “Valley of Death” has led some innovators and cancer researchers to find or create additional means to obtain funding for potential solutions in the ongoing fight against cancer. One such researcher and innovator is Dr. Mona Jhaveri, the founder of Music Beats Cancer (MCB). Formerly known as Sound Effects, MBC is a “Kickstarter” for cancer, supporting innovators working on badly needed cancer solutions which lack the critical funds to move their innovations forward.
“The MBC model is crowdfunding,” says Dr. Jhaveri, “allowing donors to give directly to a cancer-fighting campaign they care about. In return, donors receive quarterly updates on the progress of the campaign from the entrepreneurs they supported. This is in contrast to grant-making models where committees decide where money is donated, but are not tasked to share outcomes of the supported research with the donors.”
According to Dr. Jhaveri, MBC believes that this distinction is important in our new world, where choice and transparency are highly valued. MBC’s long-term vision, as Jhaveri describes it, is to become the public’s “go-to” cancer charity, where the public can both learn about and support cutting-edge treatments in the fight against cancer.
“Music Is the Torch for Change”
MBC’s roots lie in Dr. Jhaveri’s career background as a biotech entrepreneur. After obtaining her Doctorate in Biochemistry from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, she entered a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It was here that Jhaveri, along with several of her colleagues, discovered a DNA treatment that showed potential efficacy in treating ovarian cancer in women.
Jhaveri launched her own venture, Foligo, in 2005 to further expand her research on the potential treatment. After 5 years, however, in 2010, Foligo’s lack of funding forced Jhaveri to shut down her R&D operation and essentially abandon the innovation she had been researching for years, landing Foligo within the proverbial “Valley of Death.” As a result, Jhaveri launched MBC as a fresh innovation: one focused on removing the bottleneck between cancer research, innovative treatment solutions, and the funding necessary to commercialize those solutions.
Using the traditional funding model of platforms such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, MBC’s model as an established 501(c)(3) non-profit organization allows the musical artists who partner with them to raise money and awareness for cancer research and innovations. Members of the general public can then leverage their individual power as well as their passion for music to help raise both awareness and funding for those innovations.
“Music is the torch for change,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “Just as cancer can affect anyone, so too can the cultures, values, and desires that are expressed through music. Because musical artists are commonly at the forefront of influencing positive social and cultural change, MBC’s partnering with them can help generate a much broader and deeper positive change on the ways that innovations for cancer are funded and developed.”
As Dr. Jhaveri tells us, all funds raised by MBC through their partnered artists go towards the MBC Cancer Community Mega Fund, which disseminates funding to several funding campaigns for separate innovations in the fight against cancer. At the time of this writing, MBC has raised over $30,000 and is currently partnered with over a dozen emerging musical artists, including Airy Jeanine, King Cavalli, Arra, and Xavier White, to name just a few.
For those who may feel compelled to make a donation, please visit MBC’s website to help fund an active cancer-fighting campaign. You can also follow MBC on social media and sign up for their regular community newsletter, allowing you to stay tuned for future MBC concert events, where all funds raised from MBC’s partnered artists support their Community Mega Fund that matches the crowd’s donations dollar for dollar.
Music Beats Cancer
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