JSU department chair to race, raise money for cancer research

On Nov. 1,  athletes from all over the world will meet in Panama City Beach, Florida to compete in the Ironman Florida triathlon.

GoldenGateTrailRaceOne of the contenders is Jackson State University computer science chair Dr. François Modave.

“I was looking at a way to race, as I’ve been doing for many years now, but to race and give back. The fundraiser was a natural choice,” said Modave.

Modave, a Paris, France native, is a biomedical researcher. He’s competing in the Ironman Florida triathlon to raise money for cancer research.

“The specific cancer we’re fundraising for is called neurofibromatosis,” said Modave. “It’s basically an abnormal tumor growth on the bones. It’s very painful, and there is no cure.”

Each member of team Modave will race with has committed to raise a set amount.

“The goal is that everyone has to raise $5,000. As of now, I have raised, $1,985. The money goes directly into a fund account and then to the foundation.”

The entire group has raised $625,000.

Modave is asking the JSU community to help him reach his goal of $5,000. Those who want to contribute can give here.

Modave’s inspiration for this research came through his work with Texas Tech University. Before he came to JSU, he worked in the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas.

“I spent a couple of days in children’s oncology,” said Modave “You see four- and five-year-old kids with no hair. They have a big grin on their face. They’re just happy to live. They really teach you a lot about life. The fact that this helps kids like them is what really made me want to do this.”

Neurofibromatosis is a difficult cancer to predict, because there are no signs of what’s coming next.

“The kid could have a growth on his arm, and then a growth close to his eye.  Then there’s a growth somewhere else,” Modave explained. “There is no pattern.”

Modave has been doing research for 16 years, seven of those in biomedical sciences. He is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

“The Children’s Tumor Foundation is ranked amongst the best rated foundations,” said Modave. “They give virtually all of the money back. Something like 92 percent of the money goes to research. It’s a really transparent organization.”

The Children’s Tumor Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding effective treatments for the millions of people worldwide living with neurofibromatosis. The condition causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning disabilities and excruciating and disabling pain.

-Darrell Robinson, Jr.


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