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Just Funded: Young Investigator and Reach Grants 

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By: Trish Adkins

ALSF awards grant funding for childhood cancer to 18 scientists 

Dr. Jesse Berry spends a lot of time in surgery and thinking about surgery. She works with children who have retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye. You cannot biopsy the eye, and without the valuable information a biopsy provides, ocular oncologists are operating in the dark. 

“As a surgeon, it is frustrating that I cannot know which eye will do well and which will not, “ said Berry.  

But, Dr. Berry is aiming to channel that frustration into a solution. With her Reach Grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Dr. Berry is studying how a biopsy of the aqueous humor, the clear solution that surrounds the eye, could lead to improved diagnostics, more robust tumor profiling, better treatments, and more cures for kids.

This award is designed to move hypothesis-driven research toward the clinic. Researchers use this grant to identify areas in which treatment could improve for kids facing cancer and then work to make that improvement possible.  

Dr. Berry’s project Identification of Aberrantly Methylated Differentially Expressed Genes to Distinguish High- vs. Low-Risk Retinoblastoma also aims to identify the genetic drivers of retinoblastoma that could be targeted with precision medicine. Her lab’s work will add to the childhood cancer knowledge base—which benefits all scientists that are searching for cures for kids with cancer. 

“My hope with our research we will have a key to how liquid biopsies can benefit all types of childhood cancer research,” said Berry.

In addition to funding Dr. Berry, ALSF awarded four additional Reach grants as well as 13 Young Investigator Grants to early career researchers. 

Young Investigator Grants are designed to fill the critical need for startup funds for less experienced researchers to pursue promising research ideas. These grants encourage and cultivate the brightest researchers and lead to long-term research projects. 

ALSF research grants have the power to do this—support discoveries that change the entire trajectory of careers and of critical childhood cancer research. 

Here are the childhood cancer researchers ALSF just funded: 

ALSF is committed to changing the future of childhood cancer research by funding scientists and projects that will bring better treatments and cures to children with cancer. Attracting and retaining the best and brightest early career scientists is critical, as the funding at this stage will encourage and steer promising researchers toward long-term careers in pediatric oncology investigation. Your donations fund research that brings better treatments and cures to children with cancer. 

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