Funds support the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative in improving clinical care and treatment option

Elaine Ingalls | Santa Cruz Sentinel | August 16, 2019

SANTA CRUZ — UC Santa Cruz has received $400,000 as one of 55 grants from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research.

The foundation announced July 23 that its 55 grants, totaling $17.5 million, will support research efforts benefiting childhood cancer patients. Grant recipients include the University of Connecticut, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and other institutions.

Founded in 1999 in Monrovia, the foundation is a nonprofit that raises funds from volunteers and donors for childhood cancer research and finding cures. It has provided $279 million in research grant funding since 2005 and is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, according to the release.

St. Baldrick’s has funded a consortium research grant, known as the Emily Beazley Kures for Kids Fund, at UCSC since July 2016 and will continue to provide funding until June 30, 2020.

The consortium shares pediatric cancer data from global genomic studies on multiple types of cancer, according to St. Baldrick’s Foundation grants. The consortium then uses the collected data to analyze children’s cancer data against both childhood and adult cancer patient groups. The research team has evidence that this cross-cancer analysis could find scenarios in which a drug developed for a separate purpose may work in a type of pediatric cancer, creating new treatment options and giving children with cancer and their families hope, according to the grant.

Funding given to UCSC supports the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative, which partners with clinical teams and hospitals that care for children with rare and hard-to-treat cancers, according to a press release. It was co-founded by Olena Vaske, assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCSC and David Haussler, professor of biomolecular engineering and scientific director of the UCSC Genomics Institute.

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