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Empire State Riders are Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs to spark new hope

A rider holds their bike bandles with a "Why I Ride" sign on it. The lighting is warm and vibrant.

You're sparking hope for cancer patients!

When you support Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center through events like Empire State Ride, you’re supporting an institution at the forefront of innovative cancer care, advancing science and expanding treatments options. Those advances influence the way we treat all kinds of cancer everywhere, making your impact worldwide.

Inside a Roswell Park research lab

Advances influence how we treat cancer everywhere, making your impact worldwide

Why Roswell Park?

What you might not know is that Roswell Park is one of only 4% of cancer centers that hold comprehensive status from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). During its annual Core Grant renewal, Roswell Park was designated “exceptional” by the NCI, underscoring the center’s commitment to exceptional patient care and working toward a cancer-free tomorrow. That commitment trickles down to the work Roswell Park does to drive breakthroughs in cancer research with the potential to become the next standard of care, everywhere. Roswell Park is uniquely positioned to become a global destination for innovative cancer care. 

Here’s how we’ll get there.

Roswell Park is one of only 4% of cancer centers that hold comprehensive status

A group of exceptional doctors, researchers and nurses stands n front of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs

For the past four years, donor support from Empire State Ride helped drive Release the Breakthroughs, a campaign that laid the foundation for advanced immunotherapy and innovation in cellular therapy at Roswell Park. With the foundation set, Roswell Park has now assembled a team of industry leaders to execute the innovative work that needs to be done in cell therapy and immunotherapy, ensuring your contributions are making the maximum impact for the future of cancer care. Led by Deputy Director Renier Brentjens, MD, PhD, The Katherine Anne Gioia Endowed Chair in Cancer Medicine, and a soon-to-be 2024 Empire State Rider, this team will work seamlessly to bring innovative therapies from bench (lab) to bedside (patients).

By expanding our ability to study, produce and test new treatments, Roswell Park experts will be able to offer the most cutting-edge care to patients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Donors have been invaluable in bringing this goal to life.

Sophisticated Cell Production

Immunotherapy has changed the way we treat cancers by taking full advantage of the innate genius of the immune system. Cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is an evolving and expanding field that offers great promise for patients and their loved ones.

Cell therapy uses cells, sometimes gene-engineered, to work with a patient’s immune system to stop cancer growth and kill existing cancer cells. This therapeutic approach is quickly becoming an option for a greater range of cancer types, in many cases allowing patients to move away from treatments like chemotherapies which can have harsh side effects.

Education Site - Dr. Azrak OICO Program 2.4.21-41

Bringing Innovation to Patients

Roswell Park is dedicated to accelerating access to the most promising immunotherapy treatments through clinical trials. Few institutions in the nation have the facilities for pre-treatment, manufacturing and post-treatment of immunotherapies and gene therapy clinical trials. With a recent investment from New York State and with the support of donors through the Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs campaign, Roswell Park has all of this, making it uniquely positioned to lead cutting-edge trials.

With your support, Roswell Park’s new cell production facilities will be ready to bring therapies to patients faster. Roswell Park experts will also be able to use the expanded facilities to bring existing treatments to more patients, participate in more clinical trials and research treatments that are still on the horizon.

“This is a time of tremendous hope and promise,” explains Dr. Brentjens. “Cellular therapy is in its infancy, but it’s already dramatically reshaping what we can achieve through cancer therapy. I’m incredibly excited about the work the team will do in the next few years — the time we are going to be able to give back to patients with even advanced cancers, the cures that are within our reach today.”

Clean Rooms

The need for genetically engineered immune cells and other resources to drive forward cell therapies and other immunotherapies will continue to increase as research accelerates and trials progress. Constructing additional clean production rooms and adjacent auxiliary rooms will advance research programs and provide critical support for existing and forthcoming work. The expanded facility will support Roswell Park’s growing list of clinical trials, assuring a long-term positive impact on research and ultimately patients. Six clean rooms are already in operation, and with your support, Roswell Park is poised to establish 14 new clean rooms.

Where You Come In

The construction and management of these state-of-the-art facilities comes with the need for a significant investment. Your support, along with a generous commitment from the New York State Economic Development Corporation, will help fund promising cellular therapy trials, complete the cell production facilities and continue to pursue cell therapy innovations.

If you are interested in taking your support of Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs to the next level, contact the fundraising team at

Check out why these riders support Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs

“My why for supporting Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs? For so many reasons on my heart. In honor of my loving parents, Angelo and Gloria; for myself, because I am so blessed to be alive; and for all who are in remission or heaven because of cancer. I pray we can make treatments less invasive, less toxic, and win the fight against cancer. This is why I ride and do my best to raise funds for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I am committed to raising money for the cell manufacturing facilities, because Roswell Park is my HOPE.”
Maria at Empire State Ride after cancer treatment
Veteran Rider
“Dynamically creating and manufacturing personalized vaccines and other treatments represents a new paradigm in medical treatment. This capability is urgently needed on a large scale; every day we delay means another day someone must wait. I support the Igniting Cancer Breakthroughs campaign to advance to a new frontier in cancer treatment as soon as possible.”
Terry Bourgeois Smiles. Identifier
ESR Founder