Immunologist wins $250,000 Hyundai grant for pediatric oncology research

Dr. Marie Bleakley of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will use her Hope on Wheels award to support research to reduce occurrence, severity of graft-vs.-host disease
Dr. Marie Bleakley
Dr. Marie Bleakley of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division with patients at the Hyundai news conference. Photo by Dean Forbes

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.

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