2012 Research Priorities Summit

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 1, 2012

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation held its second Research Priorities Summit in New York, the weekend of January 7-8, 2012. Nineteen distinguished childhood cancer research experts attended, volunteering their time and expertise to advise the Foundation’s board and grants staff on funding priorities.

The Summit was co-moderated by two nationally recognized leaders in pediatric oncology, William Carroll, M.D. of New York University and Holcombe Grier, M.D. of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Participants included the Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, the President of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, as well as leaders from such institutions as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, City of Hope, Johns Hopkins University, and more.

The first Research Priorities Summit, held in January 2010, resulted in a well-defined set of funding priorities and focus areas, which remain in place. Funding priorities include clinical trials, new discovery, translational research, and the training of new pediatric oncology researchers. Special focus areas include supportive care research, survivorship issues, and cancer in adolescents and young adults.

The purpose of the 2012 Summit was to help guide the Foundation’s strategic plan, ensuring that all children’s cancer research funds will continue to make the biggest impact possible for childhood cancer patients and survivors. The central question asked was, “What do pediatric cancer researchers and clinicians need to make the biggest difference over the next ten years?” A second goal was to explore how the Foundation, with its increasing international presence, can best make an impact on pediatric cancer globally.

The Summit began with a quick summary of the grants made by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation from its 2005 inception to the present, totaling more than $78 million, and the outcomes of that funding. The experts were unanimous in recognizing the huge impact of St. Baldrick’s grants, to date. They encouraged the Foundation and its constituents to take more credit for making a difference, as the largest private funder of children’s cancer research grants. They also offered recommendations on new metrics to measure success.
Leaders in the following specialty areas made presentations to offer insights, then facilitated a lively discussion on each topic:

  • Three Collaborative Research Models:
    • Cooperative Group Clinical Trials (COG)
    • Focused consortia involving a smaller number of institutions
    • Larger collaborative research projects (ex: TARGET, SPORE) funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • Pediatric cancer funding and needs on the international front:
    • Developed Countries
    • Developing Countries
  • Issues involved in research for supportive care, survivorship, and late effects – Unique issues for adolescents and young adults (AYA)
  • Other discussion topics included:
    • innovation – or “Big Idea” – grants
    • bridge grants to fund a year of research for investigators who have temporarily lost funding  for successful ongoing projects, due to NCI budget cuts
    • the importance of banking and improving the informatics for biological specimens, for the best  efficiency and use in current and future research
    • the tsunami of information coming out of genomics research and the need for interpreting and  translating this data into usable results
    • the criteria for the foundation’s infrastructure grants – and more.

The board of directors of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation met immediately following the Summit. One recommendation was approved immediately: Fellows applicants will now submit research proposals at the end of their second fellowship year, to fund a research project for years three and four, with an option to apply later for one additional year. This is in response to the fact that many fellowships programs have grown from a standard three-year term to four or more, allowing more time for both research and sub-specialty training.

The many other issues raised in the 2012 Research Priorities Summit will be discussed by the board of directors at its March meeting, and decisions will be announced at that time.
All Summit participants agreed the time was exceedingly well-spent and will result in more progress in curing childhood cancers and giving survivors the quality of life they deserve.

Read about the critical State of Childhood Cancer Research Funding from Kathleen Ruddy, Executive Director of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Research Experts in Attendance:
Peter Adamson, M.D., Chair Children’s Oncology Group, Chief, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Director, Experimental Therapeutics in Oncology Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Robert J. Arceci, M.D., Ph.D., King Fahd Professor of Pediatric Oncology Professor of Pediatrics, Oncology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine Editor-in-Chief, Pediatric Blood & Cancer, Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins The Bunting & Blaustein Cancer Research Building

Ronald D. Barr, MB, ChB, MD, FRCP (Glasg), FRCP (Lond), FRCPC, FACP, FRCPath, FRCPHCH, Professor, Division of Hematology and Thromboembolism, Department of Medicine Pathology and Medicine Chief, Service of Hematology-Oncology, Departments of Pediatrics, McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster University, CANADA

Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences; Professor, Population Sciences, Associate Director for Population Research, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Co-leader, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center Director, Center for Cancer Survivorship, Director, Outcomes Research, Staff Physician, Pediatrics, Professor of Pediatrics City of Hope

William Carroll, M.D., Professor; Julie and Edward J. Minskoff Professor of Pediatrics; Director Cancer Insitute & Minskoff Prof Departments of Pediatrics (Oncology Division) and Pathology, NYU Pediatric Hematology Oncology

Holcombe Grier, M.D., Clinical Director, Pediatric Oncology, Professor of Pediatrics, Charles A. Janeway Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching of Children’s Hospital House Staff in 1992, a Harvard Medical School Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching [Years III and IV] in 2008 and a Harvard Medical School Community Service award in 2009. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Nancy Kline, Ph.D., RN, CPNP, FAAN – Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing Editor and APHON representative and Director of Nursing Research Children’s Hospital Boston

Michael Link, M.D., President-Elect, American Society of Clinical Oncology (2010 – 2011), Lydia J. Lee Professor in Pediatric Cancer, Stanford University (2003 – present), Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine (2000 – 2010), Director, Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford (2002 – 2010) Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, President of American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Jeffrey Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., Investigator. Head, Susan & Herman Merinoff Center for Patient-Oriented Research. Chief, Hematology/Oncology Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
Crystal Mackall, M.D., Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute

William H. Meyer, M.D., CMRI Ben Johnson Professor, Jimmy Everest Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, OUHSC, The Children’s Hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center

Paul A. Meyers, M.D., Vice Chair, Academic Affairs, Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Charles Mullighan, M.Sc., M.D., Department of Pathology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School. Director, Solid Tumor Program, Pediatric Oncology, Medical Director, Pediatric Oncology Clinical Trials, Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Kathleen Ruccione, R.N., M.P.H., FAAN, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at University of Southern California, Co-Director, HOPE Program Center, Nursing Administrator, Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Aziza Shad, M.D., Assistant Professor and Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics; Blood and Marrow Transplantation; Director, Leukemia Lymphoma Program; Director, Late Effects Clinic for Cancer Survivors; Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Program Georgetown University

Naomi Winick, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Lowe Professor of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology. Director, Clinical Oncology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

William G. Woods, M.D., Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, Professor Director, Division of Hematology/Oncology,Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, The Daniel P. Amos Children’s Chair for the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Emory University

Jason T. Yustein, M.D., Ph.D., St. Baldrick’s Scholar, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine