‘Fueling the Cure’ yields $101,000 joint food, cancer research at Ohio State

LONDON, Ohio — A donation from five agricultural cooperatives spawned a unique joint endowment between Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The co-ops presented University President E. Gordon Gee with a donation of more than $101,000 Sept. 20 at Ohio State’s Farm Science Review.

The contribution to fund the joint endowment came from efforts of five agricultural cooperatives, including Trupointe, United Landmark, Heritage Cooperative, Town & Country Co-op and Jackson Jennings Co-op. The “Fueling the Cure” project, launched during the 2009 Farm Science Review, was based on donating $1 per propane delivery stop from each of the participating cooperatives. In 2010, the project raised $70,000 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at OSU’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

“We have an entire team of researchers at Ohio State combining the skills of physician scientists with those of horticulture and food scientists to develop new food products and see those developments come into our clinic,” said Steven Clinton, a professor of oncology and leader of OSU’s Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program.

“We have crops developed and grown here in Ohio, processed in our Food Science Department, and new products brought into our clinics for cancer patients.”

The joint endowment will support Clinton’s work at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as the efforts of the Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

It’s hoped the new endowment will help shift the paradigm of food production from producing more food to that of producing “functional foods,” or foods that add value to a given end use or consumer, according to Vice President for Agricultural Administration Bobby Moser.

“It’s all about food safety, food quality, and affecting human health, so these functional foods are really exciting, because the emphasis is prevention. It goes beyond nutritional values into health values and medicinal properties in preventing diseases.”

Clinton said the main research focus in horticulture and plant genetics during the 20th century centered on increasing productivity and efficiency.

“We’re looking at this in a different way, considering how we change the composition of that food in a way that is optimal for health,” he said. “We’re then using that ingredient to create a new food that maximizes the health outcomes for folks who have high risk factors for cancer.”

Clinton summed up his feelings on the cooperation between the Comprehensive Cancer Center and CFAES by pointing out Ohio State’s focus on collaboration, and its unique marriage of medicine and agriculture. “For me, this partnership takes my breath away. We are unique in that we are one of the few comprehensive cancer centers anywhere in the nation that’s on the same campus with a college of agriculture, and it’s a great one. We’re able to forge partnerships that just can’t happen other places.”

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