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.
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.
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 that a second round of funding is now open.
For 2021, priority will be given to projects involving innovative studies of high-grade gliomas, nonmedulloblastoma embryonal brain tumors, non-Ewing Sarcoma fusion-positive sarcomas, fusion-negative sarcomas, big data and/or catalyzing clinical trials. Investigators with proposals focusing on leukemias, neuroblastoma, Ewing sarcoma and medulloblastoma are welcome to apply, but ALSF has set areas of prioritization for this round of funding in order to fund a broadly representative community of investigators working across many different cancer types.
The proposals will be judged on innovation, scientific soundness, significance and the potential for impact on improving the lives of children with cancer. The 2021 award selection process involves three stages:
- A letter of intent (due April 26, 2021) to narrow the pool to the projects most in line with the scope of the Crazy 8 Initiative
- A full proposal (due August 12, 2021, by invitation only) to select award finalists
- A virtual presentation (December 8-10, 2021) by the finalists to ALSF leadership and the Crazy 8 Scientific Advisory Board to choose the award recipient(s)
Read the full application guidelines here.
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.