• Press Release
  • For Immediate Release
  • Media Contact:
    • Michele Franco
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 264
    • michele.franco@stbaldricks.org

Promising Grant for Childhood Cancer Research Given in Honor of Derick the Defeater

Virginia Beach, Va. – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants, is proud to announce Derick the Defeater, a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund, created in honor of Derick Palmer from Virginia Beach, Va., will support lifesaving childhood cancer research.

Dr. Ming-Ru Wu at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., is named “Derick the Defeater St. Baldrick’s Scholar.”

Dr. Wu’s grant funds promising research aimed to facilitate clinical translation of Tumor Immuno-therapy by Gene-circuit Engineered Response (TIGER) to treat high-grade pediatric glioma and overcome existing barriers to effective immunotherapy.

Cancer immunotherapy has demonstrated great potential for treating cancer. However, there are still a few challenges.

  1. The lack of ideal targetable tumor antigens.
  2. Severe toxicity due to off-target interactions.
  3. Tumor-mediated immunosuppression is limiting the success of immunotherapies to be broadly applicable.

Dr. Wu and his colleagues are working to overcome the challenges by a programmable synthetic gene circuit platform that enables tumor-localized therapeutic payload production to recruit and activate immune cells, also known as TIGER. This strategy will make use of the body’s immune system to kill tumor cells. The gene circuits delivered systematically will be turned on by the presence of two cancer-specific signatures. Meaning it’ll only be activated within cancer cells.

“Our family and Derick the Defeater fund are honored to announce our new partnership with Dr. Wu in the research of clinical translation of Tumor Immuno-therapy by Gene-circuit Engineered Response (TIGER),” said Gina Palmer, Derick’s mother. “Throughout the years, we have been so fortunate to live in a community amongst generous friends, family, and strangers. Derick’s best friend, Hunter, has led the charge in fundraising for Team Derick the Defeater in support of the annual St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraising event. We are so grateful for all of the other volunteers and donors who have helped raise money for this life-changing project.”

Derick’s mischievous smile and wonderful charm were his trademarks. His big personality brightened every room, making those around him laugh. When Derick was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in April 2013 and throughout his treatment, Derick always remained positive, courageous and shared his infectious smile no matter how hard the fight became.

Derick’s courage resonated so strongly with his friends that they created a comic book called “Derick the Defeater.” The story of a superhero who fought evil villains in the form of cancer cells.

When Derick passed away in March 2015, it was an incredibly painful loss to his friends, family, and all who knew him. He touched so many lives with his beautiful soul, bravery, and love, which inspired the creation of the St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund, Derick the Defeater. So that his light and courage can continue to help kids diagnosed with cancer so that they can have access to more and better treatment options.

St. Baldrick’s Hero Funds are an ongoing way for friends, family members, and groups to donate or raise funds to honor a loved one. To learn more about the program, visit the St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund page.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Every 2 minutes, a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. In the U.S., 1 in 5 will not survive. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants, is on a mission to give kids a lifetime by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s, you don’t just give to one hospital – you support virtually every institution with the expertise to treat kids with cancer across the U.S. St. Baldrick’s ensures that children fighting cancer now — and those diagnosed in the future — will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment, by supporting every stage of research, from new ideas in the lab to the development of new therapies, to lifesaving clinical trials. Join us at StBaldricks.org and help #GiveKidsALifetime.