Photo by Bo Jungmayer
SEATTLE – Aug. 28, 2013 – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, is proud to award a total of $388,340 in pediatric cancer research grants to support the work of two physician-researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Heather Schuback, M.D., a research associate in the Fred Hutch Clinical Research Division, received a $158,340 St. Baldrick’s Fellow award, for a period of two years, to support her project aiming to improve treatment for children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer. This work focuses on characterizing the scope of mutations in a specific gene, ETV6, in children with AML. Preliminary work indicates that patients with such mutations are more likely to have a poor outcome. This project hopes to use the mutations in ETV6 as a marker to identify patients at high risk of relapse at the beginning of their treatment in order to predetermine therapies that are most likely to succeed.
“The grant from St. Baldrick’s will help take us one step closer on our journey of researching genetic mutations in children with AML,” Schuback said. “Through our work, we hope to be able to recognize variations in ETV6 at diagnosis so we can offer families the most effective care for their child.”
Based on progress to date, Scott Diede, M.D., Ph.D., also a research associate in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch, was awarded a $230,000 extended St. Baldrick’s Scholar grant to fund an additional two years of his project. Diede studies how cancer cells, specifically pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma, can manipulate the normal DNA process and use that process to promote formation and growth of cancer.
“I hope that my research does two things; first, I hope it identifies new targets for medicines for children with rhabdomyosarcoma who currently are not cured of their cancer, and second, I hope it helps doctors plan the best initial therapy for children to decrease the long-term side effects of the medicines we give to cure them,” Diede said.
Through the vigorous efforts of volunteers and supporters in the U.S. and around the world, the Foundation is not only honored to award this local grant, but will fund a total of more than $22 million in its 2013 summer grant cycle.
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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick’s coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide where participants collect pledges to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer, raising money to fund research. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $125 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers to work in developing countries. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.