The Childhood Cancer Blog

Making Lemonade in the Lab (Happy National Lemonade Day)

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By: Steven Jonas, MD/PhD

Happy National Lemonade Day everyone! My name is Steven Jonas and I am an Assistant Professor and Pediatric oncologist at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and a proud Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) Young Investigator Awardee. I guide patient care as a clinician and I also study cancer as a researcher. 

Something we can all agree on is that 2020 has been a pretty crazy year where we’ve all faced new challenges and learned a lot about ourselves as we each find creative ways to turn life’s lemons into lemonade. With everything that has been going on lately, one thing that is for sure is that childhood cancer does not stop for anything – even global pandemics.

Children undergoing cancer treatment and their families have their lives altered in so many complicated ways. Every day our entire medical team of physicians, nurses, social workers, and child life specialists are committed to helping each patient turn their diagnosis into lemonade.

The amazing network of support for each child that is enabled through the generosity of foundations like ALSF has such tremendous impact on the care that we are able to provide in the clinic. 

Wearing my other hat as a childhood cancer researcher, my team and I try to contribute in our own way by adding new ingredients to the lemonade recipe – using science to add a “splash of cucumber mint” (which, by the way, I highly recommend if you are looking for a new way to step up your lemonade game!). We’ve nicknamed our research group “the UCLA NanoTransformers” because we are developing ways to apply nanotechnologies to transform immune cells into cancer fighting cells. We hope that these technologies will help accelerate the development of new cures and safer treatments for our patients.

This is how we are transforming lemons into lemonade in the fight against childhood cancer. We hope you’ll join us to help make a difference!

Dr. Steven Jonas is an ALSF Young Investigator Research Grantee. Combining his engineering and pediatric oncology background, Dr. Steven Jonas created a potentially time-saving and cost-efficient way to deliver childhood cancer treatments using nanotechnology. Nanotechnology refers to working with materials that are on the scale of a nanometer, which is the thickness of a piece of human hair sliced down 100,000 times. Read more about Dr. Jonas' work here.