The Collegian
Saturday, April 20, 2024

A nonprofit using music to fund cancer research comes to UR

<p>Graphic by Helen Mei.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic by Helen Mei. 

Music Beats Cancer, a non-profit organization that plans concerts to fund cancer cure research, started its first student engagement project with a student organization at the University of Richmond.

The non-profit is a crowdfunding campaign with a mission to fund cancer cures by partnering with well-known and up-and-coming artists. Senior Tsering Cole, head of student engagement for the non-profit, said she got involved because of her passion for health equity and saw the campus as a perfect place to grow the project. 

Cole said that while cancer research done by large companies gets plenty of funding, potential cures developed by small biotech labs do not. These cures often never make it to the public or get implemented because pharmaceutical companies will sue or buy the smaller company out, a phenomenon she called the valley of death. 

“They're just being harassed by big pharma and weaponized to make a profit," Cole said. “This organization uses music, a universal language, to bond all kinds of different people under this one cause and build awareness. Because the more that people know, the more we can take back our power over time.”

The musicians it partners with will highlight the mission of the organization and urge people to donate. Music Beats Cancer will also hold their own concerts where the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the cause.

Music Beats Cancer decided to start a campus program because it wanted to open opportunities for college students who wanted to get involved with cancer cures, said Mona Jhaveri, the executive director of Music Beats Cancer. The organization also believes that college students have the passion to incite the change it is looking for.

“The goal is to bring that awareness to college kids, because we are the next generation of movers and shakers,” Cole said.

Jhaveri founded the company after getting her doctorate in biology and working at the National Cancer Institute. Javeri said she later moved on to study how intellectual property was affecting the medicine industry and decided to do something about it.

“I decided to launch music to beat cancer because I understood that there was a systemic problem in how we move science from the lab to the clinic,” Jhaveri said.

The club hopes to host fundraising events, like concerts, mixers and banquets where students can come to support the cause. Cole has already planned an EDM concert and is hoping to bring Future to campus in the spring semester. The club already has partnerships with Porsche and IHeartRadio. 

Matt Crispi ‘23 also works at Music Beats Cancer as the managing director of funding. He got involved with the project after his time at UR and was inspired by his godfather, who passed away due to lung cancer. Crispi wanted to see more when it came to cancer cures and saw that Music Beats Cancer was doing just that, he said.

“I wanted to do something in this space that I know could be impactful and helpful,” Crispi said. “I just personally want to see something that was more, you know, cure-oriented, solution-oriented and less research-oriented. And so this was kind of a perfect thing for me.”

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Sophomore Zack Ruighaver is a biochemistry and music student who was interested in how the organization uses music to approach the gap in cancer cure implementation.

“Everyone loves music,” Ruighaver said. “ It's definitely a good way to connect people, especially because it's just really unifying.”

Junior Nahomy Cruz is helping Cole bring the club to campus and thinks the club will provide pre-med students with more opportunities to become changemakers in the community, she said. 

Ruighaver thought this was not just a great opportunity for STEM students hoping to get more involved with science initiatives, but also for music students on campus who could contribute their talents too, he said. 

Although Music Beats Cancer’s student-led initiative is starting at UR, Cole and Jhaveri hope to spread the program to other universities and have already talked to students at Virginia Commonwealth University about expanding there.

Cole and Cruz are hoping that the club will become active by the end of the month. 

Jhaveri said that with the help of UR students, Music Beats Cancer can change how cancer cures are funded.

“My hope is that students help us shift that narrative [that cancer research ends in cures],” Jhaveri said. “and help us shift the paradigm where we actually look to innovators for cures and understand the power and their role and and support them as real agents of change.” 

Contact news writer Andrea Padilla at

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