Dr. Duane Mitchell, M.D.: Saving Lives, One Headstand at a Time

September marks many of beginnings: football season, college, and Fall weather. September is also designated to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and The Agency at UF and Children’s Brain Trust have teamed up to make a difference. The #HeadstandAgainstCancer Challenge has been launched with the help of many people, including the Director of UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program, Dr. Duane Mitchell, M.D. Other people who have completed the challenge include UF’s President Kent Fuchs and Student Body President Smith Meyers. Her Campus UFL sat down with Dr. Mitchell to learn more about the #HeadstandAgainstCancer campaign.

Her Campus (HC): How did you find out about CBT and what made you want to be a part of it?

Dr. Duane Mitchell M.D. (DM): “Shortly after I arrived at UF in 2013, I was introduced to Paul Hale and Children’s Brain Trust through Max Wallace, CEO of the venture non-profit organization Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2). Paul conveyed to me his passion and dedication for helping to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer after having lost his son to brain cancer many years ago. We struck an immediate friendship and found that we shared a strong desire and complementary vision for wanting to make a difference for children with cancer. Paul had dedicated his life to raising funds to support pediatric brain tumor research. Within a few weeks of being acquainted, Paul Hale, in partnership with the Florida Brain Tumor Association and ABC2 made one of the largest philanthropic donations to help support the newly-formed UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program (UFBTIP). The Bret Hale Memorial Fund (Project B.R.E.T.) established at the UF Foundation supports pediatric brain tumor immunotherapy research and clinical trials within the UFBTIP.”

HC: What exactly is your job here at UF?

DM: “I am the Co-Director of the Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy at UF and Director of the UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. In this role, I oversee in collaboration with the Chairman of Neurosurgery, Dr. William A. Friedman, a comprehensive brain tumor center that conducts state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care for patients with brain tumors and cutting-edge research brain tumor research.”

HC: What is the #HeadstandAgainstCancer Challenge?

DM: “#HeadstandAgainstCancer is an awareness and fundraising social media driven campaign to highlight and support efforts to end pediatric brain cancer. A child’s world is turned upside down when diagnosed with cancer and the headstand challenge is to show solidarity and support for children battling brain cancer to make them aware that there are others thinking about them and supporting efforts to find a cure.The challenge launched on September 1st and I did my headstand and posted it on Facebook. My three sons: Anthony, 9, Brandon, 7, and Austin, 3, also took the challenge to show their support for children battling brain cancer.”

HC: Why should people take the challenge?

DM: “The #HeadstandAgainstCancer is a fun and noticeable way to bring awareness and support to serious issue and a dire need. Children’s Brain Trust has partnered with the UFBTIP (pictures attached) to fund pediatric cancer research at the University of Florida. Taking the challenge will help support clinical trials of new immunotherapies for brain cancer currently underway as well as the development of new treatment approaches for pediatric brain cancer in the future. I am obviously biased, but I think it is a very worthy cause.”

Take the #HeadstandAgainstCancer Challenge to support finding a cure to end pediatric brain cancer and spread awareness for the cause by completing the following steps:

  1. Take a picture of yourself doing a headstand or post a picture upside down using “#HeadstandAgainstCancer.”
  2. Post the picture on all forms of social media.
  3. Tag at least three friends for them to do the challenge.

Let’s take a headstand to end pediatric brain cancer!