Participants go ‘Over the Edge for Brain Cancer’ at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt

Participants go “Over the Edge for Brain Cancer” and rappel down San Diego’s tallest waterfront building to bring new awareness to brain cancer research.

When Julie Hicks reached out to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation (PNIF) in late 2018, she was seeking a partner to support her cause for change. She heard about Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI) and Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, at a previous fundraising event and believed that PNIF would help her achieve her goal – raising money and awareness for brain cancer research.

The San Diego Connection

Julie proves she went ‘Over the Edge’ for brain cancer research

Julie Hicks

Julie had learned about Dr. Kesari and was impressed by his reputation for innovative research during the time he spent within the San Diego community. Now as part of PNI in Santa Monica, Dr. Kesari’s leading-edge research and his goal to find a cure for brain cancer motivated her to find out more about him, PNI and its foundation.

Part of PNIF’s mission is to educate patients and the community at large on vital neuroscience issues, and partnering with Julie to create awareness at Over the Edge (OTE) encompassed that purpose. For the December 9, 2018 OTE fundraising event, participants, called Edgers, raised $1500 or more, to have the thrilling chance of rappelling down the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the tallest building on the San Diego waterfront.

OTE is a company that aims to challenge non-profits, corporations and individuals to step out of their comfort zones to improve themselves and their communities. It has tapped into something profound, with its focus on raising funds for non-profit partners around the world and working to redefine charitable giving with the added twist of exhilarating challenges and life changing adventures. This unique combination draws the attention of media outlets both locally and nationally at their events, and along with her fellow Edgers, Julie brought awareness to brain cancer in a big way.

More Cancer Connections

For many people who participate in fundraising events for cancer, they are motivated by their personal battle with cancer or that of a loved one, but for Julie it was a bit different. Initially, Julie did not realize she had any connection with brain cancer and had simply signed on as a participant because she enjoys donating her time to philanthropic endeavors and urban repelling sounded like fun to her. However, in reaching out to people for donations, she learned that a number of people in her life had been touched by brain cancer in one way or another.

After learning more about their stories, the event took on a deeper meaning for her.

Participants go ‘Over the Edge’ with support from PNIReflecting on what was going through her mind while she was repelling down, Julie noted that it allowed her to see the world in a new light, in a true bird’s eye view perspective. After taking the first step over the edge, her initial fears washed away and she was inspired by all the people she was representing.

She recalled the child at a previous fundraising event who was still fighting brain cancer as they had participated beside each other, and an old friend who had passed away with brain cancer.

What started as a way of simply giving back and taking on an exciting personal challenge, evolved into a passion for giving in a tremendously exciting way, and Julie plans to continue fundraising for cancer research.

Brain Cancer Research at PNI

Enthusiasm and dedication propels cancer research forward and that is what Dr. Kesari taps into in his passionate pursuit to find a cure.

Dr. Santosh Kesari with a patient

Dr. Santosh Kesari with a patient

A world-renowned neuro-oncologist, Dr. Kesari is the Director of the Pacific Neuroscience Research Center at PNI, where he leads the charge to push the boundaries of traditional cancer research by focusing on leading-edge research, innovative clinical trials and comprehensive, personalized treatments to give his patients hope for a future. His research team is comprised of experts in their fields, from basic science researchers to neurologists and neurosurgeons, and together they are bringing fluid collaboration and efficient approaches to research. With immuno-oncology ushering in a new era of cancer fighting therapies, Dr. Kesari’s research team focuses on combining immunotherapies with targeted agents, vaccines and devices. It is a driven team emboldened to press on and make as much progress as possible, and bring life-changing treatments to patients with brain and skull based tumors and other neurological conditions.

Julie Hicks partners with PNI to support brain cancer researchThrough partnerships with individuals like Julie and companies seeking to make a positive impact by bringing awareness and resources, PNIF is enabled to support brain cancer researchers like Dr. Kesari and his incredible team.

Everyday researchers are working with clinicians to find ways to prevent, treat and cure brain cancer, and philanthropic support and partnerships have and continue to be key in the important work being done both in the clinic and in the lab.

Together we can renew hope and create the possibility of a second chance at life for our patients.

For more information about how to support brain cancer research, please contact the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation at 310-829-8424.


Nikki Mena

Nicolette Mena is the PNI Foundation Program Coordinator and is involved with all administrative and operational aspects of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Foundation. She focuses on raising awareness of PNI, through composition of blog posts, video appeals, newsletters, and materials for the bi-annual magazine. Fundraising is Nikki’s priority, with her efforts geared toward grant writing and coordination of outreach events. She works closely with medical experts, Saint John’s Health Center Foundation’s development team and PNI Foundation’s Directors to expand PNI’s brand both domestically and internationally.