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Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Rasmussen Family funds research into underlying causes of colorectal cancer

The Rasmussens
The Rasmussens support research into prevention and early detection for young-onset colorectal cancer.

Late Fall 2022
By Colleen Sullivan

Anna and Neil Rasmussen are no strangers to medical research in the quest to find answers to chronic illness—one of their children had been living with ulcerative colitis since she was seven years old. But when a follow-up evaluation, during the surge of COVID, revealed their child had developed colon cancer, they were stunned. At just 23, she is part of a growing population of young adults being diagnosed with a disease previously associated with older adults.

Given her preexisting condition and young age, the family turned to Matthew Yurgelun, MD, a physician-scientist who specializes in young-onset gastrointestinal cancers and hereditary conditions and serves as director of the Lynch Syndrome Center at Dana-Farber, to seek treatment and answers.

Grateful for the care received and inspired by the expertise of Yurgelun, the family has made gifts totaling more than $500,000 to support his research. With his colleague Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center and director of Translational Research within the Division of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber, Yurgelun is working to develop treatments that could prevent colorectal cancer in patients who are especially susceptible to it.

“We are building biobanks of patient samples to lay the groundwork for better understanding the biology of such cancers, which will be crucial for developing preventive treatments,” said Yurgelun. “Understanding the causes underlying this young-onset colorectal cancer epidemic absolutely needs to start with data, and thanks to the Rasmussens’ support, we are able to accelerate our data collection so as to learn how to prevent colorectal cancer before it starts.”

Prevention has become an increasingly important focus of gastrointestinal cancer research in recent years and is a strategic priority of The Dana-Farber Campaign.

“Drs. Yurgelun and Ng now have the tools to dive deep into genetic profiles and the causes of gut microbiome dysbiosis that can lead to cancerous mutations,” said Anna Rasmussen. “We couldn’t be more thankful and honored to support their ambitious work, which we are confident will lead to critical breakthroughs—ultimately sparing both adults and children alike from this heartbreaking disease.”

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