Tony wins The Jefferson Award

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Cancer Survivor Earns Jefferson Award

Tony Masraff Created Foundation For Prostate Cancer Research

POSTED: Thursday, July 8, 2010

UPDATED: 11:45 am CDT July 9, 2010

HOUSTON -- Groundbreaking research at M.D. Anderson Hospital is showing great promise in the battle against prostate cancer. Human trials of a cancer-killing protein could being this year and medical scientists will get most of the credit, but Jefferson Award winner Tony Masraff, a cancer survivor, has made much of it possible.

Entertaining guests at his restaurant near the Galleria, you wouldn't know by looking at Masraff that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago.The bad news came when Masraff learned how his diagnosis would affect his two sons, Russell, who is his partner at the restaurant, and George, who is an independent businessman."Compounded by the fact I'm leaving a legacy to my kids, my boys, of having a 33 percent greater chance of having prostate cancer," Masraff said.Instead of treating his body for the disease, Masraff decided to find a cure to save his sons. He learned of promising work being done at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, but the research lacked funding.Masraff started raising money. He ran a marathon challenging people to donate money for each mile. He raised $120,000 and Tony's Prostate Cancer Research foundation was born.More fundraisers followed, and soon he had raised more than $1 million. M.D. Anderson was able to use Masraff's foundation money to acquire grants, so that millions of dollars are now at work in a lab to find a cure."Tony's support has been critical in really taking our results in the laboratory and translating those results into the clinic," Dr. Timothy Thompson said. "Right now we are developing a form of the protein we could actually use clinically to treat patients with prostate cancer. It's systemic protein therapy.""Today we treat the body, not the disease, and that's typically what all the research money goes into," Masraff said. "So I was looking at something that would be treating the disease, and that's what Tim's research is leading to.""That kind of teamwork is very unique. What usually exists is a physician and scientist in many medical centers," Dr. Christopher Logothetis said. "What rarely exists is what Tony has been able to bring, and that's to bring the patient into the picture so that he has a voice and can actually drive the direction of the research."Masraff's foundation logo depicts a boy looking up to his father, and Masraff's sons are certainly looking up to him."I can't tell you how proud I am of dad," Russell Masraff said. "He's done a great thing. The research that Timothy Thompson is doing is extraordinary … cutting edge. I think the research is going to be extraordinary. Hopefully it'll be in his lifetime, but certainly, the way we're looking at it right now, it'll be in my brother's and I's lifetime.""I appreciate the fact that Tony's Prostate Cancer Research provides options for me, my brother, our children, other people's children, to look at quality of life versus quantity of life when it comes to prostate cancer," George Masraff said.KPRC Local 2 surprised Tony Masraff with a Jefferson Award during one of his fundraising events.Masraff is determined to help find a cure for prostate cancer. To help visit his website, Tony's Prostate Cancer Research. Tony Masraff is a patient advocate and has requested KPRC Local 2 to post his cellular phone number, 713-376-1950, for prostate cancer patients and relatives of patients to call him for support around the clock.

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