New St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Rintaro Hashizume in the lab at Northwestern University.
For a child diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor or AT/RT, the options for treatment can be sparse and survival uncertain. This rare, aggressive tumor generally strikes very young kids and though research has progressed, many of these kids live less than a year after diagnosis.
As the father of a kindergartener, this breaks Dr. Rintaro Hashizume’s heart.
Recently awarded a St. Baldrick’s Research grant, Dr. Hashizume wants to change that reality for kids with AT/RT and their families.
It’s a safe bet that when a group of prominent cancer researchers get together to share news about progress, researchers supported by St. Baldrick’s donors will be among them. This was true of the June 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the largest gathering of cancer professionals in the world. This year, St. Baldrick’s was a prominent part of this significant event. Read on to learn more …
St. Baldrick’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Danielle Leach, speaks during the presentation of the Partners in Progress Award at the ASCO conference. Photo by © ASCO/Matt Herp 2018
An ASCO meeting is like a city within a city, with more than 32,000 professionals attending, from patient advocates to academic researchers to biotech movers and shakers. Each year, the news announced at this meeting has far-reaching implications for the future of research, outcomes for patients, and even stock prices of companies involved in new advances.
For some kids with cancer, getting a bone marrow transplant can be a blessing, but for others it can be a curse. That’s because of a complication called Graft-Versus-Host Disease or GVHD, which not only causes immense suffering — it can also be fatal. Enter Dr. Melissa Mavers, a St. Baldrick’s Fellow who aims to stop GVHD in its tracks and help kids with cancer live long, healthy lives after transplant.
Dr. Melissa Mavers works in the lab at Stanford University Hospital. A St. Baldrick’s Fellow, Dr. Mavers is an instructor of pediatrics in the Division of Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University.
For a kid with cancer and their family, a bone marrow transplant can mean a clean slate and a new beginning. But it’s not easy. The procedure involves intense, high-dose chemotherapy and sometimes radiation, which wipes out the kid’s bone marrow cells and immune system. This forces them to remain in isolation at the hospital, so they don’t get sick.
“The destroyed cells are then replaced with cells from a donor to not only help rebuild their defense systems and their ability to make blood but also to fight any last cancer cells that remain,” explained Dr. Mavers.
June is National Cancer Survivors Month and St. Baldrick’s is dedicated to funding research that saves more lives and helps more survivors! Thanks to donors like you, we’ve funded $17 million and counting in survivorship research grants, so kids with cancer can thrive after treatment ends. Take a peek at just a few of our grants that are making a big difference for childhood cancer survivors…
2014 Ambassador Lauren is a childhood cancer survivor and dreams of becoming a pediatric oncologist. She says she wouldn’t be here without childhood cancer research.
1. Dr. Jonathan Fish with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, St. Baldrick’s Scholar Grant
Dr. Jonathan Fish with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York.
Thanks to funding from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Dr. Fish and his colleagues were able to form the ‘Survivors Facing Forward’ program at New York’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in 2008. Since the beginning of the St. Baldrick’s award, the program has grown to follow over 625 survivors and is now one of the top survivorship programs in the New York area. The program provides survivors with an array of services – from oncology to psychology, cardiology, fertility counseling and many more – that are coordinated to meet their unique needs and help them live full, healthy lives. In addition, the program has served as a powerful platform for research into the challenges faced by survivors, including iron overload, vascular resistance, adherence to screening recommendations and genomics.
St. Baldrick’s CEO Kathleen Ruddy has seen it all. From the years before the Foundation was officially established to today, she has watched St. Baldrick’s grow from a few passionate volunteers to become the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants in the country. Now take a trip down memory lane with Kathleen, to where it all began.
A shavee is all smiles at the St. Baldrick’s Space Coast Conquers head-shaving event in Viera, Florida, which is one of thousands of events across the country and beyond.
18 years ago, St. Baldrick’s was a tiny group of passionate volunteers that aimed to do a big thing – conquer childhood cancers. The first event, established by the reinsurance industry in 2000, intended to raise $17,000 and raised $104,000 instead. Shavees scratched those newly shorn domes and said, ‘Maybe we should do this again!’
In 2001, these intrepid volunteers set forth to grow St. Baldrick’s throughout the U.S. for the following St. Patrick’s Day.
2017 was a big year, full of breakthroughs, incredible stories and some pretty amazing achievements in the childhood cancer world. Join us as we reflect on St. Baldrick’s top 10 highlights of the past year — and make sure you give yourself a pat on the back, because much of this was possible because of YOU!
Are you ready to take a trip down memory lane? Here we go …
1) Passage of the RACE Act
If you’re like me, you often have to remind yourself to slow down and appreciate the here and now. It seems everything in modern life encourages us to focus on tomorrow. Stores promote Christmas shopping while children select Halloween costumes, and those same children spend their childhoods awaiting summer vacation or anticipating their next school year.
During the holiday season, St. Baldrick’s CEO Kathleen Ruddy likes to reflect on the blessings of the past year.
Sometimes I feel I’m wishing my life away, which is why I appreciate the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day so much. It’s one of the few times we officially take stock of our blessings, treasure our time with those we love, and encourage each other to reflect upon the past year.
Usually, I’m most grateful for the things that are new, like the approval of Kymriah, a CAR T cell therapy for kids with a particular type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the first gene therapy approved in the United States. Given to children with few or even no treatment options for their cancer, this St. Baldrick’s-supported therapy is effective in 83% of the children who receive it – children who can now celebrate the holidays and the promise of a future thanks to research supported by St. Baldrick’s.
Top: St. Baldrick’s researcher Akiko Shimamura (left) in her lab with a colleague at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. During her St. Baldrick’s-supported study, Dr. Shimamura studied a rare group of inherited bone marrow disorders that are associated with heightened risk of cancer. Bottom: Based at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, St. Baldrick’s researcher Scott Kachlany tested a new therapeutic agent for kids with ALL during his St. Baldrick’s-supported study.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation makes a bold statement: We support the most promising childhood cancer research, wherever it takes place. And because we grant more childhood cancer research than any non-government funder, it’s crucial that those dollars go to the right projects. But how do we pick the right projects?
Rising to that challenge is a widely respected grant application and scientific review process created by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
McKenna Claire was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called DIPG. The McKenna Claire Foundation was established in her memory and in 2013, St. Baldrick’s partnered with the McKenna Claire Foundation to fund DIPG research, like the work done by Dr. Rameen Beroukhim at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Honored Kid McKenna Claire was bright, spirited, and loved soccer and gymnastics. McKenna was full of grace, joy and grit through it all, even as her childhood cancer progressed and she could no longer run across a soccer field, jump on a trampoline, talk or swallow. She died just six months after her diagnosis with a rare, fatal type of brain tumor called DIPG – weeks before her birthday. She would have been 8 years old.
Stories like this are why St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Rameen Beroukhim studies DIPG, otherwise known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. In fact, McKenna’s photograph hangs in his lab.
Usually, we pick one international winner of the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, but what happens when there are two equally deserving researchers with big ideas and big hearts for kids with cancer? Read on to find out!
After being nominated for the International Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, (left) Dr. Franck Bourdeaut and (right) Dr. Jan-Henning Klusmann were both selected by a committee of experts and are being presented with the award today at the annual conference for the International Society of Paediatric Oncology.
Dr. Robert Arceci was a passionate innovator who dreamed big. He was a pioneer who knew that kids with cancer deserve better than what doctors can offer them and that breakthroughs are born from taking risks.
That’s why the international winner of the award established in his memory – the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award – is given the resources and the freedom to follow their curiosity, pioneering spirit, and their passion for kids’ cancer research, wherever it leads.
Except this year, it’s winners of the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award!
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