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June 13, 2016

Spartans, cyclists and skin cancer advocates gear up for fourth annual MSU Gran Fondo

An anticipated 2,000 participants will bike through scenic West Michigan on June 25 for the fourth annual MSU Gran Fondo. The non-competitive cycling event benefits MSU College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research.

Italian for “big ride,” cyclists of all skill levels will ride 12, 25, 40 or 80 miles. Some participants are avid cyclists with a passion for these types of “mass-start” events, while others are riding to honor a loved one – or their own – battle with skin cancer.

All routes start and finish in downtown Grand Rapids with the longest route’s halfway point at Lake Michigan in Grand Haven. Along the way, Gilmore Catering will host superfood stops with Michigan-sourced food. All riders return to the heart of downtown Grand Rapids for the Finish Line Festival, an outdoor after-party with a grand feast and live music.

The MSU Gran Fondo was named a “must-ride” event and one of the nation’s top gran fondos in 2016 by Gran Fondo Guide.

In its first three years, the event has raised more than $470,000 to support MSU College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer research program.

With the help of these funds, Richard Neubig, professor and chair of the MSU Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is focusing his melanoma research in two areas: one to prevent the often fatal form of skin cancer from metastasizing, and a second to keep it from returning after it goes into remission.

Neubig’s lab has identified a gene called RhoC that causes a melanoma tumor to invade and spread to other parts of the body. His team has also identified several compounds – or potential new medications – that can possibly block this process and prevent the spread of aggressive melanomas.

Neubig will be among the cyclists riding the 25-mile route.

Event registration is available at until June 23.

By: Amy Sawade Nienhouse

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