You'll be forgiven if you don't recognize Dr. Maxwell Krem lately. The Clinical Research investigator who studies Hodgkin lymphoma in teens had his straight black hair shaved off in early March to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer research funded by St. Baldrick's Foundation.
The California-based medical research charity currently funds about 18 projects at the Hutchinson Center, University of Washington and Seattle Children's, including a three-year project by Krem to explore the workings of a protein called KLHDC8B, which is expressed during cell division and is altered in cases of familial Hodgkin lymphoma. Dr. Scott Diede, also of Clinical Research, has a three-year grant from St. Baldrick's to study DNA methylation and how cancer cells can exploit it to silence genes that help prevent tumor formation.
Head-shaving events are St. Baldrick's signature event; the organization held more than 1,300 of them nationwide last year. On March 9, Krem and Diede joined about 60 supporters at Fado Irish Pub in downtown Seattle, about half of whom chose to lose their locks in support of the foundation. Diede instead opted to be an "honorary barber." The event so far has raised more than $15,000 toward a goal of $60,000.
Some photos of the Fado event can be found on The Seattle Times website.
"The work and fundraising of St. Baldrick's is becoming more important with the contraction of federal research funds," Krem said. "The foundation allows physicians and scientists such as me to continue their work. Without its support, many of us might have to close up shop due to insufficient funding. I believe that St. Baldrick's is a very meritorious charity organization."
In an interview with KOMO-AM the day before his head shave, Krem said solidarity with pediatric cancer patients is another reason he decided to participate. "Hair loss is just the tip of the iceberg for what cancer patients go through, especially children. They have nausea, fatigue, procedures; their lives center around medical care. When we shave our heads that's one way of showing that we care, that we're going through something that they go through. It's also a very nice, visible way to draw attention to the cause and make it real for people when they see that happen."