Kirsten Bryant

  • My dad and I dancing at my wedding.

    My dad and I dancing at my wedding.

Kirsten Bryant


Raised: $223

Goal: $5,000

Welcome to Kirsten Bryant's PurpleStride Fundraising Page

On April 30th I'm participating in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's (PanCAN) PurpleStride Raleigh-Durham. You may have noticed more about PurpleStride in the news this year than in years past. That is because this year, for the first time, every PurpleStride event in the country will take place on the same day, April 30th, 2022. Furthermore, this year we are returning to in-person events. I am so very excited to be reunited with the other passionate members of the affiliate and see our sea of purple supporters again.

PurpleStride is the #1 way we raise money to fight pancreatic cancer and through your donation, PanCAN can make progress toward its mission to improve lives for patients and change the future of the disease. Please consider supporting our team, UNC’s Running RAScals.

This has been another eventful year in my lab’s fight against pancreatic cancer. First and foremost, my group has continued to grow. Two new graduate students joined the lab last April. I am so grateful to all members of my group that now includes three graduate students, two technicians, and a lab manager. I am honored and excited to introduce more minds to the field of pancreatic cancer and start to cultivate a group that is passionate about discovering new treatments for this disease.

On that note, we continue to add knowledge to the field by publishing research articles. The study that launched my lab in 2019 has now been downloaded over 27,000 times and cited in 261 studies by other groups. Aside from the two clinical trials that we have contributed to opening, at least four other clinical trials have been initiated based on our work. While we eagerly await the data from those trials, we hypothesize that the combination treatment that we proposed can be improved. Therefore, we remain focused on understanding how pancreatic cancer cells utilize this process of “self-eating” called autophagy during times of nutrient stress. This year we published a follow up study implicating another signaling pathway that pancreatic cancer cells use to promote resistance to autophagy inhibition. When that pathway is co-targeted, we can further improve the efficacy of our proposed treatment. In addition to our own work, we have also collaborated on two other published papers with additional groups who are interested in autophagy inhibition.

To accomplish this work we need to write grants to secure funding. I was very proud of my two new students when they were accepted onto training grants that will help fund their first two years in graduate school. This is a huge help to our lab, in addition to exposing them to great career building activities during their PhDs. I was also busy writing grants and was excited to learn that we were awarded a grant from the Department of Defense’s new Pancreatic Cancer Research Program. Every June, I participate in PanCAN’s Advocacy Day where we meet with members of Congress to impress upon them the necessity for funding for pancreatic cancer research. We have advocated for a Pancreatic Cancer Research Program at the DoD for years, and it was rewarding to hear in 2020 that one would be established. I was thrilled to learn that we would receive one of the inaugural grants from this new program.

It has been a busy and rewarding year. With each new milestone, I am reminded of how proud my dad was about my pursuit of a PhD. I know that he would have loved to experience this journey with me, and it greatly saddens me that he could not, but I like to think that he is watching my work. This year has the potential to be a particularly big one for our team. If we reach our fundraising goal of $12,000, we will have raised $100,000 to date. I am very aware that some of you have been on this journey with me since day one and I would just like to say how grateful I am for your support and how certain I am that we are making a difference that my dad would be proud of.

Pancreatic cancer remains the world's toughest, with the lowest five-year survival rate of all major cancers. I'm doing my part to change this, as patients and families need us now more than ever. And I need your help. Please consider continuing to support my efforts, I sincerely appreciate your support!



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About PanCAN PurpleStride

Local action. Nationwide impact. This is PanCAN PurpleStride, the ultimate event to end pancreatic cancer.

On One Big Day, through 60 PurpleStride events taking place across the country, pancreatic cancer survivors, families, caregivers, researchers and supporters will join together and walk to honor everyone affected by the disease.

PurpleStride is the number one way PanCAN raises money to fight pancreatic cancer on all fronts — through research, clinical initiatives, patient services, advocacy and nationwide volunteer support. Learn more.