U of R Receives $430,000 in Grants for Childhood Cancer Research

Published 08/13 2014 10:00AM

Updated 08/13 2014 10:09AM

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research awarded a total of $430,000 in pediatric cancer research grants to support the work of two physician-researchers at the University of Rochester.

Jessica Shand, M.D., received a $330,000 St. Baldrick’s Scholar Grant, to fund her study on how leukemia can escape the “first line of defense” of the immune system. She hopes that her research will help to develop new therapies that use the immune system to fight leukemia, as well as make existing immune therapies work better.

“I believe that successful cures for childhood cancer depend on an investigator’s ability to think creatively and to channel that thinking into doing the best experiments in the lab,” said Dr. Shand. “Unfortunately, decreased federal funding for cancer research threatens not only to remove the opportunity for young investigators like me to sustain independent laboratory programs but discourages them from developing promising ideas in the first place. The support provided to me by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation not only gives me the time and intellectual space to transform these ideas into convincing preliminary data, but allows me to inspire other developing scientists and trainees in my institution to pursue careers in pediatric oncology research.”

Craig Mullen, M.D., Ph.D. was awarded a $100,000 St. Baldrick’s Research Grant to fund his research which hopes to find ways to prevent normal marrow cells from protecting leukemia cells, thus making cancer drugs more effective.

“This grant provides critical funding to generate a meaningful body of preliminary data,” said Dr. Mullen. “This will allow me to demonstrate the feasibility and potential impact of this research path and will accelerate the research program and make it competitive for large National Institute of Health grants.”

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