While shavees and volunteers are raising funds to be used for grants, researchers are making their way through a rigorous grant application process. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation had over 100 reviewers from the pediatric hematology and oncology community review grants in 2012.
Each application is reviewed by at least three pediatric hematology/oncology researchers, using the same rating system used by the National Cancer Institute. If all three reviewers give an application an excellent score, it’s recommended for funding. (A poor score from all three means it’s not recommended.) If the scores vary or are not decisive, the application goes to a larger committee of reviewers to discuss and vote on a final score.
St. Baldrick’s Fellowship awards begin after a new doctor has had at least one year of clinical training to become a pediatric oncology researcher. These grants fund two years of research under the guidance of an expert mentor, after which Fellows demonstrating a high degree of success and commitment may apply for one additional year of research funding. This year 20 new St. Baldrick’s Fellow awards were granted, and one was granted an additional year of funding, totaling more than $3.4 million.
Don Coulter wasn’t considering a career in childhood cancer research until a 12-year-old girl changed his mind. He went from her hospital room to the lab, where her doctor asked Coulter to look through the microscope, “These are the cancer cells that are killing this patient and we’re going to make them go away.”
From that moment, making the cancer cells go away, and saving children like her, became Coulter’s passion.
But, why is Don Coulter’s career important?
By St. Baldrick’s Fellow, Don Coulter, M.D.
Despite advancements in pediatric oncology research, the outcome of children with high-risk neuroblastoma hasn’t progressed much throughout the years, compared to the rate of progress in diseases like leukemia. In fact, even with current treatments, over half of the patients with high-risk neuroblastoma still succumb to the disease with long-term survival rates at only about 30% – 50%.
Here are a few of the major accomplishments in childhood cancer research that have been supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – through grants made to researchers at hundreds of institutions, and through the more than $33 million granted since 2005 to the Children’s Oncology Group for cooperative research.
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.
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