Immunologist Dr. Marie Bleakley of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division received a $250,000 Hyundai Hope on Wheels grant during a special program Sept. 12 in the Arnold Building.
Bleakley, also a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, accepted the check, then served as a "human canvas" as former young patients finger-painted her lab coat, which was also a gift from Hyundai. Dozens of Puget Sound-area Hyundai auto dealers and supporters attended to hear about Bleakley's research and meet the children.
Bleakley thanked the group and described her work to combat graft-vs.-host disease, a painful, life-threatening immune response that occurs in some of the children she treats for leukemia.
"Through bone marrow and stem-cell transplantation, we're able to successfully treat many of these young patients with the most severe forms of leukemia," Bleakley said. "Unfortunately for some, transplantation can lead to graft-vs-host disease, and in other patients leukemia can recur after transplantation. Support from Hyundai Hope on Wheels will help us learn how to reduce the occurrence and severity of graft-vs.-host and reduce the occurrence of leukemic relapse, which will improve the success of transplantation and ultimately save lives."
During September-National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month-Hyundai auto dealers are contributing more than $10.25 million in funding to more than 41 grant recipients in support of pediatric cancer research and/or patient programs.
Hope on Wheels has committed more than $57 million to childhood cancer research since its inception in 1998.