Last year, Jennifer Smilowitz and her children (twins Florencia and Logan) began a new family tradition—participating in The Ride to raise money for cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.

For Smilowitz, an Associate Professor of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, The Ride holds great meaning for her personally and professionally.

Her younger sister, Karen, is a breast cancer survivor, and her grandmother Florence died from the same disease more than 50 years ago. Smilowitz and her children, Florencia (named for her great-grandmother) and Logan, rode the 15-mile route in honor of Aunt Karen and Great-grandma Florence.

“It was one of my favorite things I’ve done with my kids. The twins had just turned 11, an age where they can do lots of meaningful things that are fun for me too,” Smilowitz says. “Plus, it raises money for cancer research.”

As a UW medical physicist, Smilowitz treats cancer patients and is part of a multidisciplinary  team working to advance treatment methods through research.

“One of our strengths at UW is that we are very innovative and tend to be early adopters of new technology, such as TomoTherapy and ViewRay,” Smilowitz says. “But advances in cancer treatment don’t come solely from using the latest tools. It also takes a lot of research to keep Wisconsin on the leading edge. When advances happen here, they can be translated to patients in our community more quickly than many other places.”

A major challenge in radiation oncology is delivering the prescribed radiation dose to tumors while minimizing the dose to nearby healthy structures. With the latest imaging, treatment planning and motion management technologies in radiation oncology, the UW Carbone Cancer Center is positioned at the forefront of research to harness the potential of these technologies for better patient care.

“We strive to get the very most out of these new technologies for the benefit of our patients, and this effort requires time and brainpower commitment of personnel,” Smilowitz says. “The Ride will provide essential funding to help make this research happen.”

Smilowitz and her children will participate in The Ride on Sept. 17. Donate to The Ride and support cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.