Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

August 14, 2019, the Patient Brigade was given an amazing opportunity to visit the laboratory where basic medical research is performed as part of the University of Illinois Cancer Center at their Chicago campus. As part of the UIC “bench to community” model, the lab tour was a chance for the researchers to interact with members of the community who actually benefit from the end product of their research. The majority of the research they perform is the basic science that needs to be completed and evaluated long before their work is incorporated in clinical trials. Most people see clinical trials as the beginning of a cure but never see the decade of basic medical research that it took to get to an actual trial. That why researchers have to be dedicated and motivated to stay the course. And Dr. Jan Ketajewski and his fellow researchers are just that, dedicated and motivated. The tour of the laboratory, explanations on different lab equipment and talking about current projects showed the sense of pride the researchers had in their work.

As for the Patient Brigade, curiosity was at a all-time high. Just like the researchers, brigade advocates were just as dedicated and motivated. With most being cancer survivors they had many specific questions on how the research directly related to their cancers and what it could mean to future cancer treatments. Advocates learned about the long process to developing treatments and tantalizing new possibilities for the future. The interchange of questions and stories flowed in both directions as each group discovered new insights into the others point of view. The synergy created indicates this will not be the last exchange of ideas between “bench and community.