UCSF Awarded $1.75 Million to Fund Childhood Cancer Research

February 25, 2013
News Office: Juliana Bunim (415) 502-6397

Researchers at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital have received a $1.75 million grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to support the discovery of innovative treatments for childhood cancer.

UCSF has one of the leading programs in childhood cancer research in the United States, with laboratory scientists and clinical researchers collaborating to identify new targets for the treatment of leukemia, brain tumors, neuroblastoma and sarcomas.

In addition to the funding — $350,000 per year, renewable annually for up to five years — UCSF has been named a Center of Excellence (CoE) by the foundation. The CoE program aims to fund the research of leading childhood cancer institutions committed to developing and conducting early phase clinical trials.

As a Center of Excellence, UCSF will use half of the funds to enhance clinical trial infrastructure and half to support the training of scholars in drug development, allowing the clinical trial program to grow in the field of pediatric oncology. The center applicants were chosen by the foundation and invited to compete for funding. Other CoE institutions selected include Baylor College of Medicine and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

UCSF's top-ranked fellowship program currently trains three fellows per year, with at least one fellow dedicated to developing a career in early phase clinical trials.

"This award will allow us to sustain our local program and to train young investigators in the skills needed to develop and lead early phase clinical trials for the future," said Dr. Katherine Matthay, chief of pediatric oncology at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and the principal investigator for the grant.

The purpose of the Center of Excellence program is threefold:

  • Foster the evolution of new therapeutic concepts from the pre-clinical arena into fully developed clinical trials;
  • Rapidly and efficiently conduct phase I and phase II trials of highly innovative therapies;
  • Train individuals in the field of developmental therapeutics and cancer pharmacology.

"One of our strengths at UCSF is our emphasis on translational research," said Matthay. "The ability to train new investigators in developmental therapeutics will capitalize on the very strong laboratory translational research at UCSF and bring new agents targeting pediatric cancer into the clinic."

About UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital creates an environment where children and their families find compassionate care at the forefront of scientific discovery, with more than 150 experts in 50 medical specialties serving patients throughout Northern California and beyond. The hospital admits about 5,000 children each year, including 2,000 babies born in the hospital. For more information, visit www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org.

Follow UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital on www.facebook.com/UCSFBenioffChildrens or on Twitter @UCSFHospitals.

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