The Bernice E. Holland Fund was established in June 2007. The Fund is supported by the Bernice E. Holland Foundation located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Foundation was established in 1999 in memory of Bernice E. Holland who died at age 85 from colon cancer.
At the time Bernice was diagnosed, she was full of life and still interested in dancing, painting and doing volunteer work. Her son, Rick, established the Foundation in Bernice's memory to support colon cancer research at TGen.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates the number of colon cancer cases in the United States for 2019 at just over 101 thousand.
Recent work at TGen led by Drs. Sunil Sharma and Raffaella Soldi has shown that tumors can be directly targeted by therapeutics (the drug kills the tumor), or by the therapeutics’ ability to activate immune cells to destroy the tumor (the immune system kills the tumor).
This is an exciting development. Colon cancer is considered a “cold” tumor, meaning that its continued growth is possible because it stops immune cells from infiltrating and killing the tumor cells. Dr. Sharma’s work suggests that therapeutic agents can wake up the immune cells to attack the tumor.
Dr. Soldi and her team have been able to create tumors in a petri dish from a variety of different colon cancer cells collected from patients. These models are proving to be superior to other techniques in testing the viability of new and existing therapeutic agents against a wide range of cancer types because they retain the structural and functional characteristics of the primary tumor that was in the patient; scientists can create hundreds from one patient tumor sample; and this high-volume approach allows for rapid screening of multiple drugs simultaneously, reducing the time it takes to get new therapies to patients.
This works is made possible through the efforts of the Bernice E. Holland Foundation and helps fulfill its mission is to help find a cure for colon cancer. Each year the Bernice E. Holland Foundation hosts a range of events, including a VIP reception and golf tournament to promote awareness and raise funds for this important research.