LOS ANGELES, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Innovative. Revolutionary. Game-changing. This is how recipients of the St. Baldrick's Foundation Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award describe the opportunity. This year's U.S. or Canada recipient is Kimberly Stegmaier, M.D., Vice Chair of Pediatric Oncology Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Co-Director, Pediatric Hematologic Malignancy Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
St. Baldrick's, the largest non-governmental funder of childhood cancer research grants, created this award to give pediatric cancer researchers the resources and freedom to pursue new leads discovered through research progress – keeping the focus on discovery and the best ultimate path for patients in mind.
Dr. Stegmaier will receive $250,000 a year for three years, with no research restrictions, but to report on her results every six months. The award was presented before her peers at the annual meeting of the Association of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (ASPHO) in Montreal today.
"This award is amazing. It gives me the freedom to go where science takes me, to use innovative technology, and to take more risks – which, in my opinion – gives higher rewards," says Dr. Stegmaier. "There aren't many opportunities like it, and I'm so glad I can honor Dr. Arceci's memory in this way."
Dr. Stegmaier plans to use this award to identify critical vulnerabilities in a collection of pediatric cancer cell lines, including the diseases that are a focus of her laboratory: Ewing sarcoma and neuroblastoma. She will compile a large dataset of about 100 different cancer cell lines over the next six months, and examine what happens when each gene in a cell's genome is systematically knocked out. The dataset will help Dr. Stegmaier compare childhood cancers against other types of cancers, with the goal of discovering each cancer cell's top dependencies. These dependencies will be determined through several tests showing if the cancerous cell continues to grow, slows in growth or dies.
Dr. Stegmaier will focus on three key areas:
- Finding a way to repurpose an existing, FDA-approved drug or a drug in early clinical testing to treat childhood cancers.
- Discovering new therapeutic childhood cancer vulnerabilities that will spark a campaign to create a specific drug to inhibit that dependency target.
- Gaining more overall understanding of the biology of childhood cancers and their origin.
This one-of-a-kind award was created in memory of pediatric oncologist Dr. Robert "Bob" J. Arceci. He treated countless children and was an international authority in many areas of pediatric cancer research. Dr. Arceci supported the idea of a new type of funding that would give researchers the freedom to find real, lasting cures, but he was killed in a hit-and-run accident before he could see this funding become available.
The St. Baldrick's Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award is given to one researcher in the U.S. or Canada each spring, and one international researcher in the fall.
All nominations were reviewed by a committee made up of experts as far away as Paris and Hong Kong, including leaders of American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), the Children's Oncology Group and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), as well as two parent advocates who serve on the St. Baldrick's board.
About St. Baldrick's Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick's Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick's funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best cancer treatments for kids.
SOURCE St. Baldrick's Foundation