Two research teams at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center recently received a significant funding boost from Rivals United for a Kure, a campaign of Kure It Cancer Research, Inc.

Rivals United for a Kure awarded $70,000 to Kevin McDonnell, MD, PhD, clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, whose research focuses on identifying genomic mutations in adolescent and young adult cancer patients.

A second award of $70,000 was given to Agnieszka Kobielak, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the Keck School, and to Uttam Sinha, MD, MS, associate professor of otolaryngology and Watt Family Chair in Head and Neck Cancer at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, who collaborate on research into biomarkers of invasion in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Kure It is the brainchild of Barry Hoeven, a two-time graduate of USC (‘72 BA, ‘73 MBA).

Hoeven, having been diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1998, discovered the so-called orphan cancers that get little attention and little funding for research. Armed with this information,Hoeven was inspired to raise money for innovative cancer research. To that end, he established Kure It Cancer Research, which has awarded $1.4 million in grants since 2007.

Rivals United for a Kure is an offshoot of that organization which plays up the historic UCLA/USC sports rivalry. The organization’s November 2013 annual gala honored USC football coach John Robinson and UCLA’s Terry Donahue in downtown L.A. Also participating were former USC football players Sam Cunningham, Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Conway and Paul McDonald. The money raised funds cancer research at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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— Hope Hamashige