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Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge

Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge events bring the real estate and financial industries together to support medical research breakthroughs at the University of Toronto and its fully-affiliated teaching hospitals.

When his sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, real estate developer Andrew Hoffman took it as a call to action. He partnered with Tony Reale to launch the Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge in 2007. Since then, hundreds of executives from major Canadian firms have regularly gathered for gala Texas Hold’em poker tournaments, raising millions of dollars for cancer research, equipment and other medical initiatives.

Since its inception, Hold’em for Life has supported a wide range of scientific effort at Toronto hospitals, from prostate cancer research and a breast cancer risk factor research program to five doctoral student fellowships investigating the fundamentals of tumour formation.

In 2019, Hold’em for Life made a transformative commitment of $16.4 million to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and its partner hospitals to establish the Hold’em for Life Oncology Fellowships. The fellowships support dozens of brilliant young doctors each year. The award recipients are conducting cancer research across U of T teaching hospitals and are working in fields from medical, radiation and psychosocial oncology to medical imaging and pathology. This support for dedicated researchers will greatly advance our knowledge of cancer biology, and will ensure a solid start for these creative young scientists as the global scholars who will transform the future.

For example, award recipient Dr. Sarah Picardo researches the role of the microbiome in cancer genesis, and its potential role in treatment. Dr. Fyeza Hasan is providing insight in an under-researched area: palliative care for children with cancer. And Dr. Oscar Calvillo Arguelles, an expert on cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors, is launching a long-term study of women’s heart and cognitive health after breast cancer chemotherapy in order to determine biomarkers that can predict heart disease risk—and help doctors manage it.

Hold’em for Life’s visionary philanthropy is supporting important scientific discoveries that are advancing our understanding of cancer and leading toward targeted, effective therapies.