• Press Release
    • For Immediate Release


  • Media Contact:
    • Traci Shirk
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 250
    • traci@stbaldricks.org

Senators Rubio, Bennet Partner with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Pediatric Oncology Immunotherapy Senate Briefing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 25, 2017) – Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) partnered with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants – for its luncheon briefing on the Hill today. The senators acted as honorary Congressional hosts for a variety of panels covering advances in immunotherapy and pediatric oncology research, and the challenges and opportunities in drug development and treatment.

The panels were moderated by Jeffrey M. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., director of pediatric hematology/oncology and stem cell transplantation at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. Dr. Lipton is a member of the St. Baldrick’s board of directors, and as scientific chair, spearheaded the creation of the Foundation’s grant program to fund childhood cancer research.

Three panels included perspectives from a total of 11 panelists:

Power of the Patient

  • Lauren Bendesky, 2014 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador, childhood cancer survivor and 2017 St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow grant recipient
  • Martha Riedel, currently in treatment for relapsed Ewing sarcoma
  • Nancy Swart, mother of St. Baldrick’s Honored Kid Zach, who recently underwent successful CAR-T cell therapy

Taking Childhood Back from Cancer: The Promise of Immunotherapy

  • Kevin J. Curran, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Alex Y. Huang, M.D., Ph.D., Case Western School of Medicine/Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
  • John M. Maris, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Baldrick’s Foundation-Stand Up 2 Cancer Dream Team co-lead
  • Shannon L. Maude, M.D., Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Research Powered by Collaboration: Creating Cures and Treatments

  • Malcolm Smith, M.D., Ph.D., National Cancer Institute
  • Sunil Agarwal, M.D., Juno Therapeutics
  • David Lebwohl, M.D., Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Becky Chapman Weaver, St. Baldrick’s Foundation

The briefing provided an opportunity for the cancer community, Congress and industry representatives to engage in conversation about the necessary innovation for pediatric oncology drug development.

“I’m grateful for the work of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to give pediatric cancer research the attention it needs,” said Rubio. “Along with the RACE for Children Act, advances in medical technology will accelerate new, innovative treatments for childhood cancer. We must continue to work together to ensure children are not left out of 21st century research and medicine.”

“It’s critical that we provide Coloradans and Americans with access to the most innovative treatments,” said Bennet. “We will continue the conversation on how to modernize the FDA and bring breakthroughs to those who need them most, especially for the thousands of families with children fighting cancer.”

Senators Rubio and Bennet were strong supporters of the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act, which became law in August 2017 and will allow for further drug development and research of pediatric cancer, as well as the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Treatment Access and Research (STAR) Act, the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever taken up by Congress. The STAR Act focuses on maximizing childhood cancer survivors’ quality of life, moving childhood cancer research forward and helping kids get access to lifesaving treatments.

“We thank Senators Rubio and Bennet for serving as honorary Congressional hosts for the first St. Baldrick’s briefing on the Hill,” said Kathleen Ruddy, CEO of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. “It’s important that we continue to collaborate and discuss the needs within the childhood cancer community, and push for more research funding for proven innovative treatments such as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy has the power to save children’s lives, in the most powerful way yet, while offering the ability to preserve the child’s physical and intellectual potential as well.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Rubio and Bennet plan to continue to work together to bring awareness and progress to the childhood cancer research community in order to find better treatments as unique as each child.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick’s is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer by funding some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best cancer treatments for kids.