Family donation helps provide crucial pilot and bridge funding for cancer research

Members of Mrs. Birge’s family pose with Bucky during their visit to the McArdle Laboratory

A generous donation from the estate of Mrs. Ruth Birge has helped to provide crucial pilot and bridge funding for cancer research at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Ruth Birge was born outside of Rosendale, WI, and was raised by her grandparents after both of her parents died when she was very young. She attended Ripon College where she met her husband, Robert.  Unfortunately, soon after they were married, her husband was killed in action during the Second World War.  After graduating from Ripon College, she began teaching grade school in Fond du Lac and then, until her retirement, in Ripon. Mrs. Birge and her aunt built a house together in Ripon and the two lived there until her aunt’s death due to breast cancer. Witnessing her aunt’s fight with cancer inspired Mrs. Birge to support basic cancer research at the McArdle Laboratory.

One of the key areas where Mrs. Birge’s donation has made a difference is in providing pilot and bridge funding for McArdle Laboratory researchers. This funding allows investigators to continue conducting exceptional research while between major funding periods, or to initiate research on new ideas that are high risk/high impact. Ultimately, this crucial form of funding allows laboratories to apply for and be awarded large federal grants to support their novel cancer research efforts.

One of the beneficiaries of funding made possible by Mrs. Birge’s donation is McArdle Professor Dr. Shigeki Miyamoto, who studies the NF-κB signaling pathway, a key cellular pathway related to cancer progression. Much of Dr. Miyamoto’s research focuses on how multiple myeloma and other blood cancers evade the effects of anticancer drugs.

Other researchers at McArdle who Mrs. Birge’s donation has helped to support include Dr. Yongna Xing, who was recently awarded an R01 grant to study the PP2A holoenzyme, and Dr. Chris Bradfield, who was recently awarded an R35 Outstanding Investigator grant to study the PAS family of sensor proteins.

In June, eleven members of Mrs. Birge’s family visited the McArdle Laboratory, coming from as far as Colorado. As part of their visit they toured the laboratory and met a number of faculty, including those whose research Mrs. Birge’s donation has helped to support.

“It was wonderful to meet the family of Mrs. Birge, learn about her personal life story and that of her family members, and learn the reasons underlying her commitment to supporting the cancer research efforts at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research,” remarked Director Dr. Paul F. Lambert. “We hope that her family can continue visiting us to learn how Mrs. Birge’s generous donation to McArdle continues to live on through the pioneering research endeavors supported by her estate. Our work to tackle cancer cannot happen without the support of individuals like Mrs. Birge. I speak for all of McArdle in saying a big thank you to Mrs. Birge and her loving family.”