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Many toys lying on the floor in a dark room

St. Baldrick’s Foundation

Cancer doesn’t care which child it attacks.
Every few minutes, a parent learns it’s theirs.

In the United States, cancer kills more children than any other disease – more than asthma, AIDS, congenital anomalies, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes combined. Parents need information, support, and, most of all, hope. That’s why the American Cancer Society and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation have  joined forces to fund vital research that can ease the cancer burden for families and kids with cancer. Together, we funded research that will accelerate the development of improved treatments for kids with cancer – research that’s focused on improved survival with fewer toxic effects.  

This unique collaboration empowered both organizations to fund important research that wasn’t currently part of childhood cancer research portfolios. The joint-funded projects utilized a unique approach—leveraging existing clinical trial cohorts to gain new information that will help lead to new discoveries. More than half of U.S. childhood cancer patients are treated in clinical trials created to answer specific questions that determine which of two treatment protocols achieve the best results. Rarely is there funding to go a step further to use this data to uncover new treatment options that improve care and survival. Utilizing existing clinical trial cohorts creates opportunities to accelerate discoveries to more quickly impact mortality rates and quality of life for childhood cancer patients.

First Round of Funding:

In April 2021, the American Cancer Society and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded nearly $3 million to researchers fighting to end childhood cancer. These grants will accelerate childhood cancer research with the goals of understanding and discovering new treatment options and improving care and survival in children with cancer.

This first round of research grants was awarded to six grantees. The grants include funding for research on some of the deadliest childhood cancers, including neuroblastoma, pediatric acute lymphoma, and acute myeloid leukemia.


Pilot Award Grantees:

Kelly Goldsmith, MD, Emory University – Biomarkers of GD2-targeted chemoimmunotherapy during frontline therapy and after relapse of high-risk neuroblastoma.

Andras Herczey, MD, Baylor College of Medicine – Defining Cellular and Molecular Correlates of Therapeutic Activity in a Phase 1 Clinical Trial of CAR-NKT cells in Children with Neuroblastoma.

Jatinder Lamba, PhD, University of Florida, Gainesville – Transcriptomic and pharmacogenetic based prognostic score to guide therapy in pediatric AML.

Anders Kolb, MD, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children / Nemours Children's Clinic – Delaware Valley of The Nemours Foundation / Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children – Validating detection of novel biomarkers for the Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative Sub-trial.


Team Award Grantees:

Yael Mosse, MD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia – Improving patient outcomes for ALK mutant neuroblastoma through precision molecular targeting and monitoring.

Soheil Meshinchi, MD, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – Integrated transcriptome-based prognostic and disease monitoring strategies in childhood AML.


Second Round of Funding:

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded $1.2 million in a second round of Pilot Accelerator grants. Projects in this second cohort of grantees focus on lymphoma chemotherapy treatment outcomes, immunotherapy development to treat leukemia and lymphoma, and gliomas, a deadly and difficult to treat pediatric cancer.

Pilot Award Grantees:

Catherine Bollard, M.D., Children’s Research Institute – Strategies to Overcome Immune Evasion in High-Risk Hodgkin Lymphoma using Combination T-Cell Therapies

Adam Green, M.D., University of Colorado, Denver – Which Pediatric HGG Patients Benefit from Temozolomide/CCNU

Heather Gustafson, Ph.D., Seattle Children’s Hospital – The IL-18 Monocytic Cytokine Response Predicts Immunotherapy

Mark Souweidane, M.D., Weill Medical College of Cornell University – Liquid Biopsy for Longitudinal Monitoring in Diffuse Midline Glioma (DMG) Patients

Aman Wadhwa, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham – Body Composition and Adverse Outcomes in Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma

Third Round of Funding:

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded $720,000 in a third and final round of Pilot Accelerator grants meant to fill the funding gap in clinical trials focused on childhood cancer patients. Projects in this third cohort of grantees will focus on testing the addition of new drug venetoclax to the treatment of infant ALL with chemotherapy and immunotherapy, improving the treatment and sustain remission for pediatric high-risk AML, and developing new therapies for MLL-r leukemia.

Pilot Award Grantees:

Kathrin Bernt, MD, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Venetoclax for infant ALL – COG AALL2321

Challice Bonifant, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – Donor NK cell therapy for pediatric myeloid malignancies

Linda Resar, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – Targeting the HMGA1 Epigenome and Downstream Networks in MLL-r Leukemia

More about childhood cancers:

  • Cancer is the leading disease-related cause of death for children and adolescents ages 1-19, and 1 in 264 children and adolescents will develop cancer before the age of 20. 
  • Although progress that boosts survival has been made against some pediatric cancers, there are still several types with low survival rates or no known cure. 
  • Many children who survive suffer from chronic and late toxic effects of their treatments.  According to a 2017 study supported by St. Baldrick’s: 
    • Childhood cancer survivors treated several decades ago have twice the burden of chronic disease compared with the general population at age 45 years.
    • By age 50, survivors of childhood cancer have experienced approximately five severe or life-threatening chronic health conditions on average. 

Cancer doesn’t care. But we do.

American Cancer Society St. Baldrick's Foundation