For This Dana-Farber Doctor, the PMC Is More Than a Bike Ride

He rides in the 192-mile bike-a-thon to raise money for his own research.

Matthew Davids

Davids riding in last year’s PMC/Photo provided

When the Pan-Mass Challenge returns for its 37th year this August, Matthew Davids will be among the thousands of cyclists raising money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DCFI). And while the ride is personal for nearly every rider who makes the 192-mile journey, it’s both personal and professional for Davids.

Davids, embarking on his sixth bike-a-thon this year, is a physician at DCFI—so every dollar he raises goes back to his own research, and to the research of his colleagues. “I see, on a daily basis, how the funds are helpful for us,” he says. “That’s probably my biggest motivator: to keep the funding levels at a point where we can take some risks and do creative projects and distinguish ourselves from other cancer centers that may not have that opportunity.”

Indeed, Davids has seen first-hand how much of an impact PMC funds—which are more flexible than NIH grants, and can be used to further unique projects—can have. He used money raised from the ride to run clinical trials for a drug called Venclexta, which the FDA recently approved for treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Even before those trials, PMC funds helped other DCFI scientists make key discoveries that led to the drug’s development in the first place.

“There were PMC funds that helped support that effort along the way, first in the laboratory, then on the clinical trial side,” Davids says. “It’s kind of an amplifying effect, where now we have a drug that’s been approved and can be used by anyone in the country who has CLL.”

To keep financing those kinds of discoveries, the PMC has set an overall fundraising goal of $46 million this year, all of which will go to the Jimmy Fund, which supports DCFI. Davids, who rides with a group of his DCFI colleagues, say he’s already surpassed his personal fundraising goal for this year, and has increased it to $14,000.

“One of my advantages is I have a lot of very grateful patients,” he laughs. “Often they’ll ask me, ‘What can I do to support your research?’ And I’ll say, ‘Well, you can support my PMC ride.'”

You can donate to Davids’ ride here.