5 questions with…cancer researcher, VeloSano rider Bill Schiemann

Schiemann PicBill Schiemann, professor of general medical sciences, has devoted years to studying breast cancer—specifically, metastasis, or cancer’s spread to other parts of the body, which is the cause of more than 90 percent of cancer deaths. Since joining Case Western Reserve University in 2009, Schiemann’s lab has produced several breakthroughs in this area.

Yet despite—or perhaps because of—those successes, Schiemann is well aware of how much research is still needed. That’s why he will team up with his father, Bill, and graduate student Jennifer Bell for VeloSano.

Latin for “swift cure,” VeloSano is a Cleveland Clinic-sponsored initiative to raise funds for cancer research, taking place July 17-19. At its core, it’s a cycling event where riders commit to raising a pre-determined dollar amount by requesting donations from family members, friends and other personal contacts. All money raised goes directly to cancer research, and organizations, including Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, can apply for the funds.

Last year’s inaugural event featured 800 riders, 700 volunteers and more than 12,000 philanthropic supporters, raising nearly $2 million for cancer research.

Schiemann plans to bike 50 miles with his dad, an avid cyclist, while Bell rides 25 miles. (Join or donate to Schiemann’s team at ccf.convio.net/goto/SchiemannLab.)

“It will be fun to spend quality time with my dad, while also raising money for cancer research,” Schiemann said. “These types of events are critical to get money necessary for early stage research projects to get rolling.”

In his lab, Schiemann seeks answers to some of the toughest questions about breast cancer, such as: Why does a cell become metastatic? What make cells become dormant, and then what awakens them?

As a researcher, Schiemann understands how critical funding is to finding clues that could help scientists answer some of these important questions. He encourages others to join a team or donate. (Learn more about VeloSano 2015 at velosano.org.)

“The best thing about VeloSano is that it produces seed money for pilot funds,” Schiemann said. “When we’ve had major advancements, they’ve usually come out of screenings. We just need to keep working and plugging away.”

Read more about Schiemann in this week’s five questions.

1. What technology do you think we should have, but don’t…yet?

What I want more of in life is time. So, something that effectively extends our life, giving us more time to think and play.

2. What was the most challenging part of your education?

Trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up.

3. What popular icon do you most identify with? Why?

Steve Jobs. He changed the world.

4. If you could live in any other time period, which would it be?

I’d live in the Wild West. I enjoy being outside in the open space. I think it would be an interesting era to explore when scientists didn’t know much about medicine.

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?

My favorite thing is the collegiality and sense of collaboration between colleagues. I work with a tight-knit group of people.