100 Voices of Hope: Mary Beth’s Story

Mary Beth Gadus: Forging a path forward to fund research “hunches”

Photo of the late Mary Beth Gadus, founder of 100 Voices of HopeIn 1993, Mary Beth Gadus was in the midst of her own fight with metastatic breast cancer when she heard a lecture by a pioneering breast cancer researcher, Dr. Judah Folkman.

Folkman described his frustration with the continued rejection of his theory of angiogenesis—killing a tumor by cutting off its blood supply—and how that rejection deprived him of grant funding to further his research. After 21 rejections, he finally received his grant and his work advanced the treatment of cancer.

Dr. Folkman’s dogged persistence prevailed, but he wondered: how many lives could have been extended had he received his research funding sooner and how many other scientists with viable “hunches” would never be able to test those hunches for lack of funding?

Mary Beth started to think about all of the viable hunches researchers have and how many lives could be saved if they only had the funding to pursue them.

She came up with an idea to organize 100 people willing to contribute $1,000 each and designate that $100,000 to the research of that hunch. With her initiative, the funding was raised, and the micro-RNA connection is now being fully explored in the laboratory.

In 2008, Mary Beth’s innovative idea became 100 Voices of Hope.

A lasting legacy

Research advancements kept Mary Beth alive for 26 years, but sadly, in 2016, the fifth recurrence of the disease claimed her life.

Mary Beth was determined to stay alive to see her children get married and she was convinced that research had kept her alive long enough to hold her first grandchild.

I’d love my legacy to be that I made a difference.

Mary Beth Gadus — Founder, 100 Voices of Hope


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