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PRESS RELEASE: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces Young Investigator Grant Recipients, Cultivating Early Career Scientists in the Pediatric Oncology Field

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Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces Young Investigator Grant Recipients, Cultivating Early Career Scientists in the Pediatric Oncology Field

Young Investigator Grant supports 16 of the best and brightest young researchers with $150,000 over three years.

In an effort to fund childhood cancer researchers at critical stages in their careers, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) has awarded Young Investigator Grants to 16 early career, childhood cancer researchers. The 16 grantees presented outstanding work and promising ideas in the field of pediatric oncology. The Young Investigator Grant is designed to help young researchers pursue innovative projects at leading hospitals and institutions across the country with critical startup funding, totaling $150,000 over the course of three years.

“The study that Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is supporting has the potential to enhance the way we deliver care to children with cancer, to help us better understand their experience, to decrease adverse events and to positively impact clinical outcomes,” said Allison Barz Leahy, MD of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The funding that I have received from ALSF is vital. Specifically, it helps to support the research team that is necessary for the execution of this work, and allows me to shift my focus away from ‘how am I going to pay for this study?’ to solely consider how I can best answer these important questions.”

“Being selected for an Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Young Investigator Grant provides me with the funding necessary to further my studies into deadly pediatric cancers, such as neuroblastoma. The funding provided will be instrumental in moving our work forward. Without it, this project would be greatly slowed and perhaps these questions aimed at deriving new treatments with lowered toxicity and improved survival would not be asked,” said Adam Durbin, PhD of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “ALSF will also provide me with a way to connect to other young investigators, to form collaborations to examine different aspects of multiple pediatric cancers. ALSF will facilitate collaboration which I hope will be able to yield benefit and breakthroughs which can be applicable to lots of different pediatric cancers. This exciting award from ALSF will facilitate my work as a researcher, and also as a clinical pediatric oncologist.”

The 16 early career researchers will conduct their studies at 10 top institutions across the country. The projects will study various types of childhood cancers. A list of the scientists receiving grants, their institutions and the titles of their projects is included on the following page. Full descriptions of their projects can be found on ALSF’s website.

Since inception, ALSF has worked diligently to attract young scientists to the field of pediatric oncology, recognizing that these researchers hold future keys to better treatments and ultimately cures to end childhood cancers. The Young Investigator Grant was among the first grant category awarded by the Foundation and has remained an integral category as the Foundation’s grants program has grown.

“It’s important to cultivate the passion and drive of these early career scientists because they’ll bring new and invigorating ideas to the childhood cancer research community,” said Liz Scott, Co-Executive Director of ALSF. “We hope the Young Investigator Grant will lead to a life-long career in the field, where they’ll bring hope to kids fighting cancer and their families.”

In addition to the Young Investigator Grant, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation funds several other grant categories to researchers on the front lines of the childhood cancer fight. For more information, visit ALSFgrants.org.

2018 Young Investigator Grant Recipients

Seven of the Young Investigator Grants are generously supported by Northwestern Mutual, Kate’s Cause, Sebastian Strong and Victor’s Fund, as noted.

Adam Durbin, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Co-funded with Northwestern Mutual

Interrogation of Neuroblastoma Dependencies and RNAs on the Core-Regulatory Circuitry for Therapeutic Inhibition

Allison Barz Leahy, MD – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Pedi-PRESTO: Pediatric Patient-Reported Symptom Tracking in Oncology

Caitlin Elgarten, MD – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Beyond Febrile Neutropenia: Risks Associated with Antibiotic Choice in Children with Leukemia that Undergo Transplant

Christian Hurtz, PhD – University of Pennsylvania, Co-funded with Kate’s Cause

Cooperating Signaling Networks Regulate Cell Survival of Pediatric Ph-like ALL

Chuan Yan, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital

Accessing Combinatorial Effect of PARP Inhibitor with DNA Damaging Agent in Rhabdomyosarcoma at Single Cell Resolution

Colin Godwin, MD – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Co-funded with Northwestern Mutual

Novel Antibodies to the C2-set Domain of CD33 for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Immunotherapy

Jason Schwartz, MD/PhD – St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Describing the Biological Impacts of Gain-of-function SAMD9 Mutations

Mark Zimmerman, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

MYC-driven Core Regulatory Circuits in Neuroblastoma

Maxim Pimkin, MD/PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Divergent Core Transcriptional Regulatory Circuitries to Highlight Context-Specific Vulnerabilities in AML

Michael Leibowitz, MD/PhD – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Co-funded with Sebastian Strong

Augmenting Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Induced Epitope Spreading for Pediatric Solid Tumors

Nick van Gastel, PhD – Harvard University

Targeting the Metabolic Drivers of Chemo Resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Rachael Schulte, MD – Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Effect of SLCO Polymorphisms on High-Dose Methotrexate Clearance in Pediatric Oncology Patients

Satoru Osuka, MD/PhD – Emory University, Co-funded with Northwestern Mutual

Investigating the role of BAI1 in the Metastasis of Medulloblastoma

Serine Avagyan, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Co-funded with Victor’s Fund

Modeling GATA2 Associated MDS/AML Predisposition Syndrome Using Color-Barcoding and Mutagenesis in Zebrafish

Takaya Moriyama, MD/PhD – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

NUDT15 Polymorphisms and Individualization of Thiopurine Therapy in Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Zibo Zhao, PhD – Northwestern University, Co-funded with Northwestern Mutual

Therapeutic Targeting of Childhood Leukemia by Pharmacological Inhibition of Proteolytic Cleavage of MLL1