It's simple. On your state income tax return form, check line 405 and/or 413. Contributions — and none is too small — go to the California Breast Cancer Research Fund (line 405) and the California Cancer Research Fund (line 413).
Both funds are administered by two UC programs that are renowned not only for innovative research, but also for working with health care and community advocates in targeting the issues and needs of cancer patients and families, especially the underserved.
Last year, the two funds received a combined $873,000. Contributions from 2012 tax filers averaged about $14.
That money goes a long way, supporting researchers across the state as they investigate new ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure cancer. (See box for links to examples of funded research.) Next year, an estimated 144,800 Californians will be diagnosed with cancer and 55,415 will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society and the California Department of Public Health.
The UC Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) has administered the California Cancer Research Fund (line 413) since the fund's inception in 2009.
"Cancer is a challenging disease to treat," said Bart Aoki, director of TRDRP. "The problem is compounded by pronounced disparities in the incidence and mortality."
Funds from the tax checkoff are directed toward research on diagnosis and treatment of all cancers, as well as to dissemination of timely information about cancer prevention and early diagnosis to disproportionately impacted communities, he said.
"The generous contributions Californians make to the California Breast Cancer Research Fund [line 405] enable us to support research in new areas that otherwise would not be explored," said Marion Kavanaugh-Lynch, director of the UC California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP).
Over the years, the state's tax checkoff has funded nearly $10 million in research grants awarded throughout California by CBCRP.
These are aimed at developing tests to detect breast cancer, identifying environmental factors that may cause the disease, exploring innovative therapies to thwart the cancer and improving support networks to help patients and families navigate a sometimes daunting health care system.
And to support this research, many tax filers don't even need to write a check (if they're getting a refund). They may simply check line 405 and/or 413 on their tax form.