From a long list of innovative “big ideas,” the scientific reviewers representing both funding organizations had chosen the top four to submit detailed proposals. The experts agreed that any of these would be great investments, but for a grant of $14.5 million over four years, only one could be chosen.
The suspense ended with an enthusiastic round of applause when the winning Dream Team was announced at a reception tonight at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). The evening’s emcee was actor Kyle MacLachlan, and speakers included Nobel Laureate Dr. Philip Sharp, St. Baldrick’s CEO Kathleen Ruddy, and 10-year-old cancer survivor Emma W. and her parents.
And the award goes to:
The team is led by Drs. John M. Maris, director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Crystal L. Mackall, chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. Members of the team hail from five other institutions across North America. Due to the policies of SU2C and St. Baldrick’s, none of the Dream Team funds will go to the NCI, but its participation will be invaluable.
Not only are the researchers coming together as a team, they are also bringing together two scientific areas that have, until now, been evolving on parallel tracks: genomics (the study of genes and their functions) and immunotherapeutics (using the body’s own immune system to attack cancer).
One of the most exciting things about this Dream Team is the number of children it aims to help — not those fighting just one of the childhood cancer types, but many of the most difficult to cure cancers: high-risk neuroblastoma, sarcomas (which include osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma), brain tumors, acute myeloid leukemia, and refractory (resistant to treatment) acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Whether you are new to St. Baldrick’s or have been watching the evolution of the Foundation’s research grants program over many years, tonight’s announcement gives you more reason than ever before to be proud of what we are accomplishing together.
You made the Dream Team a reality. Keep the dream alive by making a donation to support lifesaving childhood cancer research.