For kids diagnosed with a rare and fatal type of brain tumor called DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, there is no cure and treatments are heartbreakingly scarce. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Mark Souweidane is on a mission to change the bleak statistics on DIPG survival. Learn about his groundbreaking work so far and what’s coming next.
BREAKING NEWS: The promising results of Dr. Souweidane’s groundbreaking research have just been published in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet Oncology! Supported by St. Baldrick’s, this Phase 1 clinical trial involved the injection of a cancer-fighting drug directly into the tumors of children with DIPG. There were exciting results — no serious side effects or dose-limiting toxicities were observed in the kids who participated, which means that the therapy has been deemed safe for use in pediatric patients. Thanks to St. Baldrick’s support, this promising trial will now expand to multiple institutions, giving hope to kids with this currently incurable, fatal tumor and to their families.
DIPG life expectancy is devastatingly short — with many kids dying within two years of diagnosis. Dr. Mark Souweidane wants to change that.
For kids with DIPG, treatment with radiation just lets them live a little while longer. Traditional chemo doesn’t work because of the blood-brain barrier. Tumor removal with surgery is out of the question, because the cancer is intertwined with the delicate tissues of the brainstem, which regulates breathing and other vital functions.
So, what does a doctor working on DIPG do to help these kids?
A child’s eyes see the love in their parents’ faces and the joy of their siblings. They see the vibrant colors in a box of crayons and the sparkle of rain on a flower. Sight helps kids navigate their classroom, their playground and their world. But what happens when pediatric cancer attacks that precious sense?
With retinoblastoma – an eye cancer in children that is usually diagnosed before the age of 3 years old – a kid can lose their vision to the cancer and their long-term health to the harsh treatment. They can even lose their lives.
That’s what tumor immunologist Dr. Vanessa Morales-Tirado and her St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow, Zachary Goldsmith, are working to change.
Dr. Vanessa Morales-Tirado, with the University of Tennessee, works with Zachary Goldsmith, a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow and PhD candidate, in the lab.
Today’s the day! (Drumroll please!) It’s time to announce some exciting news — St. Baldrick’s very first grants of the year are here, with more to come. Read on to learn about our 2017 Summer Fellow grants, how these grants build a brighter future for children’s cancer research and how YOU made this support possible.
Our 2017 Summer Fellow grants are here!
This year, 21 institutions will receive $5,000, which will support medical school or college students working on a childhood cancer research project.
What happens when a student with a love for research and a passion for helping kids with cancer is granted a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow award? Read on to find out!
Dr. Jennifer Tsai will soon be a three-time shavee with St. Baldrick’s.
When Dr. Jennifer Tsai first heard about St. Baldrick’s, she fell in love with the idea. Shaving in solidarity with kids who have cancer AND raising money for research? It was the perfect package for the student with an interest in research.
Now Dr. Tsai is a pediatric hematology-oncology fellow with Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, but back then she was a new medical student who wanted to become a good researcher.
Raymond Chang is a student at Weill Cornell Medical College studying to be a doctor. Thanks to a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow grant, he’ll be spending his summer researching DIPG, an inoperable and always fatal pediatric brain tumor. Read what Raymond has to say about what led him to DIPG research.
The first time I visited Dr. Souweidane’s lab, I was drawn to a series of banners hanging in the foyer.
Instead of the presentation posters or published work that decorate most lab hallways, these were portraits of beaming kids — tissue donors from the Children’s Brain Tumor Project. Below each portrait were dates of birth and death, and the type of brain tumor that each had been diagnosed with.
Did you know that $5,000 can change the lives of kids with cancer? It’s true — and you helped make it happen!
Say hello to our 2016 Summer Fellow grants!
This year these $5,000 grants are going to 19 institutions, where they will support medical school or college students working on a childhood cancer research project.
Kids are special, and childhood cancers are different than adult cancers. That’s why we’re funding research to find new therapies and cures just for kids.
We asked our researchers, “In the last 10 years, what’s been the greatest achievement in the field of pediatric cancer research?”
Here’s what they had to say.
Maria Rich, a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow, got the unique chance to present her research at a prominent scientific conference this past weekend. St. Baldrick’s researcher Dr. Giselle Saulnier-Sholler praised the young woman who worked in her lab. “She truly is a brilliant and compassionate researcher who will be a wonderful physician one day.” We think so, too!
St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow Maria Rich in the lab, where she worked with neuroblastoma cells.
Nearing five years cancer free, Daniel Kingsley is determined to help kids with cancer and he’s hit the ground running! The college freshman is going to be working in a research lab as a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow and plans to pursue medical school. Future St. Baldrick’s researcher? We hope so!
Daniel Kingsley with Dr. Agne Petrosiute, his primary oncologist and a St. Baldrick’s Fellow, and Dr. Alex Huang, who Daniel will be working with as a St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow.
Daniel was 12 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.
“It was a ‘hits you all at once,’ like a brick wall, kind of feeling,” he said. “It takes the air right out of you, like, ‘Oh shoot, this is really happening.’ You never expect it to happen to you.”
Anthony working in the lab.
“Being a pre-med undergraduate, you have to find many sources of motivation to keep you going throughout the long school year,” said Anthony Hua, a rising senior at the University of California, Los Angeles.
But that motivation wasn’t hard for Anthony to find. One of his biggest sources of inspiration were his memories as a camp counselor at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, where he spent two weeks in 2012 volunteering with children with cancer.
“It was probably the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done, mentally and physically,” Anthony said. “The kids, some half or a third of my age, have to go through so much.”
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