NEA team rallies to fight cancer with... unattractive facial hair

As a member of the NEA Healthcare Team, cancer is a constant in my professional life. As a member of the LIVESTRONG Young Leader’s Council, cancer is a constant in my philanthropic life. As a member of the human race, cancer is a constant in my entire life.

While cancer affects different people in different ways, there is no disputing that it impacts every single person on this planet. Soon to become the number one cause of death around the world, more than eight million people are going to die of this disease in 2013 alone. Beyond that, cancer is no longer a disease of the developed nations as more than 60% of all new cancer diagnoses are taking place in the non-developed world.

Here at NEA, combatting the global cancer burden has long been one of the driving forces behind our healthcare venture practice. Over the years our investing activities have created companies like Pharmion (a drug discovery organization focused on the treatment of multiple myeloma), Clovis (a developer of anti-cancer agents targeting pancreatic and lung cancer), Proxima (creators of a single-use device for the treatment of breast cancer) and Vantage (an operator of radiation oncology centers currently administering more than 1,000 treatments daily).

While I am gratified by NEA’s cancer-combatting, company-building efforts, I am thrilled to announce that our organization’s commitment to beating this terrible disease now includes a more non-traditional medium. As of November 1, at least 25 of us will be growing mustaches in order to raise awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer as part of Movember (a “Mo” being Australian slang for a mustache).

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of mustaches on hundreds of thousands of male faces in the U.S. and around the world. With our “Mo's,” we will be setting out to raise vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. It may be hard to believe, but the mere idea of not shaving for 30 days to help beat cancer has engaged more than 1.9 million participants and raised nearly $300 million. I had a chance to meet Movember's CEO Adam Garone in Austin last year and it's amazing to see just how much good his organization has been able to do in the fight against cancer. In 2011 alone, over 854,000 men and women around the world got involved and raised more than $126 million to combat a disease, in prostate cancer, that impacts 1 out of every 6 men.

That is why NEA investment professionals from three countries and six different offices have committed to suffer through 30 days of creative facial hair expression for the sake of cancer advocacy and awareness. Alongside a handful of portfolio company CEOs (full disclaimer: growing a mustache is in no way a requirement to secure NEA funding) and Limited Partners (full disclaimer: growing a mustache is in no way a requirement to make an NEA fund investment) our goal is to honor the 28 million global cancer survivors while sparking conversation, spreading awareness and changing attitudes related to men’s health issues.

So check back as we provide updates on our progress but please be forewarned that as the month unfolds, many of us will begin to resemble washed-up ‘70s soap stars, Eastern European arms dealers, supervillains’ accountants and, in my case, Tom Selleck’s creepy half-brother. With the many women of NEA cheering us on while also running an offline betting pool for which one of us will end up with the worst mustache (of course, all wagered winnings will go toward the fight against cancer), it should be an interesting, if not appealing, 30 days.

Furthermore, given that we happen to live in an era of ironic, hipster-fueled facial hair, feel free to grow your own “Mo” as an honorary member of “The New Enterprise Mossociates.” Because as the saying goes, if you’re not having a good time doing good then you’re probably not doing it right!

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To learn more about Mo (and see what he looks like without the Mo), view his bio.

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