For some childhood cancers, treatment plans have not changed for decades. For some children, there will be no cure. We have a plan to change this—and the plan is the Crazy 8 Initiative.
Since our founding, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) has promoted collaboration and working together to find cures.
In the spirit of growing scientific collaboration, ALSF has launched the Crazy 8 Initiative to detail roadmaps toward cures for specific, hard-to-treat childhood cancers. In addition to its current grant opportunities, the Crazy 8 Initiative creates a new funding pillar for ALSF, allowing the Foundation to tackle explicit challenges in pediatric cancer research that require substantial support for collaborative teams. ALSF has committed $25 million to support the Crazy 8 Initiative. In 2022, that commitment was raised to $26 million.
The Crazy 8 Initiative will fund research into innovative and rigorous approaches that directly address the most intractable issues in pediatric cancer research today. Project teams of cross-disciplinary scientists work collaboratively, accelerating the pace of new cure discovery, and each grant will provide funding for large-scale collaborative projects in the $1-5 million range.
We will create a future free of childhood cancer.
The Crazy 8 Initiative Meeting
The Crazy 8 Initiative kicked off in the fall of 2018 with a meeting that brought together more than 90 top scientists from around the world to contribute their expertise in eight key areas of need:
- Embryonal brain cancers
- High-grade gliomas
- Fusion-positive sarcomas
- Fusion-negative sarcomas
- Big data
- Catalyzing clinical trials
The meeting was chaired by Nada Jabado, MD/PhD of McGill University and John Maris, MD of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The group aimed to undertake the big question: How can we tackle major obstacles impeding progress towards cures for childhood cancer through multidisciplinary collaborative research?
To jump start the research ideas that came out of the Crazy 8 Initiative Meeting, ALSF supported 11 pilot projects in 2019, with at least one project for each Crazy 8 area of need. Learn more about the exciting Crazy 8 pilot projects here.
The 2020 Crazy 8 Initiative Award Selection Process
The outcomes of the Crazy 8 Initiative Meeting included a list of addressable problems and proposed pathways forward to overcome these obstacles to make cures a reality. Four cross-cutting research themes were identified:
- Developmental Origins of Pediatric Cancers
- Drugging Currently Undruggable Pediatric Cancer Drivers
- Developing Novel Immunotherapies
- Discovery of Novel Pediatric Cancer Drug Targets
Coupling the eight key areas of need with the four research themes allowed ALSF to develop Crazy 8 application guidelines and request from the scientific community, grant applications responsive to the spirit of the Crazy 8 Initiative.
After submission of letters of intent, 100 applicants were asked to submit full applications in January 2020. A rigorous peer-review of the applications resulted in the selection of 10 finalists for the award. The finalists presented their proposed project to the Crazy 8 Scientific Review Board and ALSF Leadership in Fall 2020. Final grant selections were then made for four outstanding projects which can be viewed here.
The 2021 Crazy 8 Initiative Award Selection Process and Next Steps
ALSF has committed $25 million to support research through the Crazy 8 Initiative. Approximately $18.5 million was allocated in the first round of funding in 2020, and ALSF is pleased to announce $6.1 million has been awarded in 2022 to two new projects. This brings the total support for the Initiative to $26 million.
Priority was given to projects involving innovative studies of high-grade gliomas, non-medulloblastoma embryonal brain tumors, non-Ewing Sarcoma fusion-positive sarcomas, fusion-negative sarcomas, big data and/or catalyzing clinical trials. ALSF received over 50 letters of intent from investigators with proposals focusing on leukemias, neuroblastoma, sarcomas and medulloblastoma. Of those, fourteen submissions were invited to submit a full proposal.
After a rigorous scientific review process, four finalists presented their proposed projects to the Crazy 8 Scientific Review Board and ALSF Leadership. Two exceptional projects focusing on osteosarcoma were selected. They can be viewed here.