News

1.26.2016

Researcher is Passionate About Participating in the DCC

Michael Samuels, M.D., a radiation oncologist specializing in head and neck cancers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been a passionate rider in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge since 2011.

“I joined Sylvester in November 2010, and Jerry Goodwin, our Chief Medical Officer, immediately encouraged me to sign up for DCC II and explained how important the event was for Sylvester,” said Samuels. “I agreed and participated in 2011. It was an incredibly exciting event and I’ve been a part of it ever since.”

When Samuels signed up for the 100-mile ride in 2011, he had to practice hard; he had not been on a bike since he was 18. Despite the odds, he not only finished, he has also been riding the 80 miles back since 2012, bringing the total miles ridden each year to 180.

“There are many reasons why I’m so passionate about the DCC,” said Samuels. “What it does is crucial for Sylvester. Last year, the DCC generated $4.3 million, which went directly to research here at the cancer center.”

Many of Sylvester’s investigators depend on DCC money for “pilot funding,” which gets their research projects off the ground and generates initial data that then can be used to apply to funding sources outside of Sylvester.

“You can’t get an NIH grant in most cases or an important foundation grant without preliminary data,” said Samuels. He currently has two Sylvester grants to support tissue collection and to help fund the laboratory that performs the genetic analysis of the tissue. His team focuses on the genetic makeup of throat tumors caused by human papillomavirus and whether the virus could be re-activated under certain circumstances. Both grants were made possible by the DCC.

“Without the DCC, there is no way our team could get this important work done,” he said. “DCC strengthens the Sylvester research program in so many fundamental ways.”

But Samuels has another reason he’s a passionate DCC rider: “Anybody here has to ask herself or himself, ‘How can I give back to Sylvester?’ Working here is a privilege — this is, by far, the most exciting environment I’ve ever been a part of. So the question is, how can I go above and beyond?”

Samuels also views participating in the DCC as demonstrating a different level of commitment. It also allows him to go to people who support him and to his patients with a compelling reason to become a part of the Sylvester team.

“They usually say yes with enthusiasm,” he says. ”Any success I have had with DCC comes because those around me are amazingly generous. And by the time of the event, we all feel great about what we’re doing.”

He closed by saying: “When I see the impact, the research team using the funds and understand the ultimate benefit to our patients, how could I not participate?”

To sign up for this year’s DCC on February 20, please visit TeamHurricanes.org.

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