The Pablove Foundation Awards First-Ever Childhood Cancer Research Grants

May 17, 2011

The Pablove Foundation is proud to announce that three outstanding young investigators have been selected as recipients of the first-ever Pablove Childhood Cancer Research Grants. Dr. Loretta Lau (The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia), Dr. Holly Meany (Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.) and Dr. Elizabeth Mullen (Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA) will be awarded grants to further their efforts in pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment.

“These grants represent a milestone for The Pablove Foundation,” says Executive Director and Co-Founder Jo Ann Thrailkill. “Three years ago today our son Pablo was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a disease that ultimately claimed his life. Now, with the tremendous efforts of our supporters worldwide, we are able to contribute in a significant way on both a national and international level in the fight against childhood cancer.”

The recipients were selected by Pablove’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Board of Directors based on their excellence of science and innovation in addressing real and pressing issues faced by children with cancer. Each grantee will receive $50,000 to fund their project, with the opportunity to renew funding based on the promise of their scientific work.

“The Scientific Advisory Committee was impressed and encouraged by the quality of applications received, and we were excited to be a part of the process in awarding the inaugural grants,” notes SAC chair and Pablove Board Member Dr. Leo Mascarenhas of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “In fact, the innovation and scientific merit was so exciting that we decided to fund three proposals instead of the planned two.”

Research by Dr. Loretta Lau (Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres in Neuroblastoma) will explore a novel mechanism of how cancer cells stay alive using neuroblastoma as a model. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor in children outside the brain and the most common cancer in infancy. Treatment directed towards this mechanism will contribute significantly to eradicating childhood cancer, adds Mascarenhas.

Dr. Holly Meany is conducting an early phase clinical trial (Phase 1 Dose Escalation Study of Sorafenib and Irinotecan Combination Therapy in Pediatric Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Solid Tumors) combining cytotoxic chemotherapy with molecular-targeted treatment in children with relapsed solid tumors, including Wilms Tumor. Wilms Tumor is the most common form of kidney cancer in children, often occurring in kids under the age of five. This trial may help continue to raise the bar of childhood cancer survival.

In collaboration with the Children’s Oncology Group, Dr. Elizabeth Mullen’s project (Identification of Clinical Biomarkers of Wilms Tumor Using High Accuracy Mass Spectroscopy Urine Proteome Profiling) will investigate the development of urine tests to predict outcomes in children with Wilms Tumor using cutting edge technology called proteomics. This may lead to further understanding of why Wilms Tumor behaves the way it does and will be of particular importance in those who relapse or suffer from anaplastic (unfavorable) disease.

“This is a special grant; it’s not just a funding award,” said grant recipient Dr. Mullen. “I am grateful to Pablo’s family for their commitment and enthusiasm, and am very cognizant of the importance of honoring the memory of their vibrant and beloved son.  I feel very honored to be given this challenge.”

The Pablove Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee consists of doctors from the country’s leading research institutions and pediatric care facilities, including: Saro Armenian, M.D. (City of Hope), Shahab Asgharzadeh, M.D. (University of Southern California/Children’s Hospital Los Angeles); Elizabeth Lawlor, M.D. (University of Michigan); Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD (Harvard University/Children’s Hospital Boston); Joshua Shiffman, M.D. (Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City); Lisa Wang, M.D. (Baylor University/Texas Children’s Cancer Center); and, Daniel Weschler, M.D., Ph.D. (Duke University Medical Center).

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