Where the Money Goes

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.

The Commitment

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.

The Crazy 8 Initiative will fund research into innovative and rigorous approaches that directly address the most intractable issues in pediatric cancer research today. The Crazy 8 Initiative Award is designed to coalesce cross-disciplinary cores of scientists working collaboratively in order to accelerate the pace of new cure discovery, and these grants will provide funding for large-scale collaborative projects in the $1-5 million range.

We will create a future free of childhood cancer.

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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:

  1. Embryonal brain cancers
  2. High-grade gliomas
  3. Fusion-positive sarcomas
  4. Fusion-negative sarcomas
  5. Leukemias
  6. Neuroblastoma
  7. Big data
  8. 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 Crazy 8 Initiative Award Selection Process and Next Steps

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: 

  1. Developmental Origins of Pediatric Cancers
  2. Drugging Currently Undruggable Pediatric Cancer Drivers
  3. Developing Novel Immunotherapies
  4. Discovery of Novel Pediatric Cancer Drug Targets

Coupling the eight key areas of need with the four research themes allowed ALSF to develop the Crazy 8 Award grant application guidelines and request from the scientific community 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 will present their proposed project to the Crazy 8 Scientific Review Board and ALSF Leadership in Fall 2020. Final grant selections will be made shortly thereafter, and ALSF anticipates that the awards will start in early 2021. 

The Crazy 8 Initiative Award will fund impactful research that is critically needed for children with cancer types that have been historically difficult to cure.

Tell me more about The Crazy 8 Initiative