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Gary Kohanbash Ph.D.
Funded: 07-01-2017 through 06-30-2020
Funding Type: St. Baldrick's Scholar
Institution Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Institution: Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh affiliated with University of Pittsburgh

Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children, and ependymomas are the third most common kind. Recent studies have shown that “educating” the patient’s own immune system to fight cancers – immunotherapy – can be safe and effective. Dr. Kohanbash's team has identified three peptides that might activate immune cells to specifically fight one of the more lethal types of ependymoma. Dr. Kohanbash is testing these peptides in the lab. He is also looking at how immunotherapy could help fight all six types of ependymoma that affect kids, and thus is studying relevant characteristics in the largest-ever series of pediatric ependymoma tumors as well as in ependymoma patients already participating in a clinical trial of a vaccine based on another peptide. This grant is generously supported by the Henry Cermak Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research which was created in memory of a brave boy who had an amazing spirit throughout his battle with a brain tumor. This fund is dedicated to Henry’s wish that “no one gets left out.”