By Wendy Sarubbi | December 21, 2015 1:31 pm

The inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl December 19 raised $150,000 for breast cancer research – some of which is supporting scientific discoveries at the UCF College of Medicine. As pink-clad Florida Hospital cancer survivors performed at halftime, bowl game leaders, the medical school’s dean, Dr. Deborah German, and cancer researcher Dr. Annette Khaled stood on the 50-yard line and accepted a giant check to support finding a cure.

The bowl, which pitted San Jose and Georgia state universities, supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the only A+ rated breast cancer charity in the United States that gives 91 cents of every dollar it receives to researching a cure.

As she stepped off the field, BCRF President and CEO Myra Biblowit said the game “means the world to me. It’s a dream come true” and thanked AutoNation and the Orlando Sports Foundation for being the engine behind the only college bowl game devoted to medical research. “It’s a great night for football and a great night for hope,” she said. Biblowit has called Dr. Khaled’s research to stop metastatic breast cancer cells “seminal” and said the BCRF hopes to continue providing support. “Dr. Khaled is doing great science and it’s our honor to support her,” she said.

AutoNation donated $1 million to the bowl game. That check presentation and the presentation to BCRF were shown to a national TV audience on CBS Sports Network, which broadcast the game. San Jose beat Georgia State 27-16 in front of an announced crowd of 18,588.

Dr. Khaled’s work focuses on spreading cancer cells that leave the original tumor and travel to the brain, bones and lungs. That’s what kills most cancer patients. She is using innovative therapies and techniques – including nanoparticles – to hunt down the fleeing cells, attack and destroy them. While chemotherapy and radiation can often shrink a tumor or eliminate it, “pesky” and resilient cells metastasize and can invade other organs or cause cancer to re-appear years after treatment, Dr. Khaled explained.

Dr. Khaled said she was “humbled, grateful and excited all at the same time” to receive BCRF funding and be featured at the bowl game. BCRF is the largest private funder of breast cancer research worldwide, having raised $530 million and so far awarding $58 million to 237 cancer researches across six continents. The foundation supports five of what it considers eminent cancer scientists in Florida. In addition to Dr. Khaled, the organization supports research at the University of Miami and Mayo Clinic.

As they stood on the Orlando Citrus Bowl sidelines following a pink and glitter halftime fireworks display, Drs. German and Khaled talked about meeting for the first time after Dr. German was named founding dean of Orlando’s new medical school. She had asked Dr. Khaled her dream for her research Dr. Khaled said she wanted “someday” to develop a treatment that physicians could use to fight breast cancer in their patients. As they reflected at the Cure Bowl on Dr. Khaled’s progress, the dean said, “You dreamed big and see how far your dream has brought you?”

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