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The V Foundation Awards Almost $5 Million in Pediatric Cancer Research Grants

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research funding organizations, is proud to announce almost $5 million in pediatric cancer research grants awarded this year.  With only 4 percent of federal cancer research funding dedicated to childhood cancer research, The V Foundation’s efforts will make a significant impact to end the leading cause of death by disease in American children.  The 11 grants awarded were a result of record-breaking fundraising totals from signature events this year, including the 10th Annual Dick Vitale Gala and 17th Annual V Wine Celebration, as well as a partnership with the Vs. Cancer Foundation.

“I am so proud of my team’s efforts in raising the money that we have for pediatric cancer research,” said Dick Vitale, ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster and host of the Dick Vitale Gala, which annually raises funds for The V Foundation’s pediatric cancer research initiatives.  “I will continue to work diligently and passionately with The V Foundation until my last breath, so that we can one day put an end to this dreaded disease.”

With the addition of this year’s grants, The V Foundation has funded almost $20 million in pediatric cancer research grants since its inception.  Three of the pediatric cancer research grants awarded this year are Translational Grants, funding projects designed to bring scientific discoveries to the patient bedside more quickly and efficiently.  Translational Grants assist in the transition of projects from the laboratory to the clinic and are $600,000, three-year commitments.  The V Foundation also awarded five pediatric V Scholar Grants, which are designed to identify, retain and further the careers of talented young investigators.  The V Scholar Grants are $200,000, two-year commitments.  The remaining three grants are Designated Grants, inspired by particular areas of scientific interest and geographic reach.

Many of the grants awarded were established in memory or honor of courageous pediatric cancer patients who have recently inspired communities nationwide.  The V Foundation awarded a Translational Grant to the Stanford Cancer Institute in memory of Lauren Hill, the inspirational basketball player at Mount St. Joseph University who played in two games last season while battling pediatric brain cancer.  The grant will support research of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive pediatric brain tumor that took Hill’s life earlier this year.  A V Scholar Grant was awarded in honor of Leah Still, daughter of Devon Still and recipient of the 2015 Jimmy V Perseverance Award, for her spirit as she “beat up cancer” earlier this year.  Still’s V Scholar Grant will fund a “rising star” cancer scientist, Dr. Shizhen (Jane) Zhu at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center, as she launches her own independent laboratory study of pediatric tumors, specifically neuroblastoma.  Another V Scholar Grant was awarded in memory of Dillon Simmons, who continued to play for the Florida Eels youth hockey club following surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumor attached to his brain stem.  Simmons’ V Scholar Grant was awarded to Dr. Branden Moriarity, as he begins his promising career investigating pediatric sarcomas at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center.

One of two grants awarded to researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a V Scholar Grant assigned to Dr. Paul Northcott, was funded through a collaborative initiative with the Vs. Cancer Foundation.  Dedicated to raising money for pediatric cancer research, Vs. Cancer empowers athletes of all ages and skill levels to participate in the fight against cancer through fundraising events across the country.  The Vs. Cancer funded grant is committed to the research of pediatric medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade brain tumor.

The V Foundation funds all types of cancer and distributes research grants to the most promising scientists nationwide through a competitive process vetted by a Scientific Advisory Committee.  For more information about The V Foundation for Cancer Research, please visit www.jimmyv.org.

A list of the pediatric grants is below:

 

The V Foundation 2015 Translational Grant Recipients

Clay Gustafson, M.D., Ph.D.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

San Francisco, CA

Translating MYCN targeted therapeutics to treat children with neuroblastoma

Funded by The 2015 Wine Celebration Fund-a-Need

 

Michelle Monje Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.

Stanford Cancer Institute

Stanford, CA

Targeting neuronal activity-regulated cancer cell growth

Funded by the 2015 Dick Vitale Gala in memory of Lauren Hill

 

Jun Yang, Ph.D.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Memphis, TN

Pharmacogenetics-driven Treatment Individualization in Children with ALL

Funded by the 2015 Dick Vitale Gala

 

The V Foundation 2015 V Scholar Grant Recipients

Luis Batista, Ph.D.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital – Washington University

St. Louis, MO

Regulation and Function of Telomerase RNA in Dyskeratosis Congenita

Funded by 2015 Dick Vitale Gala with a gift from Derek and Christin Thompson in memory of Bryan Lindstrom

 

Branden Moriarity, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN

The Role and Therapeutic Targeting of PVT1 Mediated MYC Stabilization in Pediatric Sarcomas

Funded by 2015 Dick Vitale Gala in memory of Dillon Simmons

 

Paul Northcott, Ph.D.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Memphis, TN

Functional Characterization of hotspot KBTBD4 mutations in high-risk medulloblastoma

Funded by Vs. Cancer Foundation

 

Michael Walsh, M.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York, NY

Determining the Heritable Basis of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Funded by 2015 Dick Vitale Gala

 

Shizhen (Jane) Zhu, M.D., Ph.D.

Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center

Rochester, MN

Understanding metastasis of childhood neuroblastoma using a novel zebrafish model

Funded by 2015 Dick Vitale Gala in honor of Leah Still

 

The V Foundation 2015 Designated Grant Recipients

Shakeel Modak, M.D.

Brian Kushner, M.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York, NY

Radioimmunotargeting Neuroblastoma: A Pilot Study of Radioimmuno-PET Imaging Using 124I-Humanized 3F8

Funded by the 2014 Dick Vitale Gala in memory of Eddie Livingston

 

Hideho Okada, M.D., Ph.D.

University of California at San Francisco

A pilot multicenter vaccine study in children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and high-grade glioma (HGG) that carry the histone H3.3 K27 mutation

Funded by the 2015 Wine Celebration Fund-a-Need

 

Jeremy Reiter, M.D., Ph.D.

University of California at San Francisco

A Novel Targeted Therapy for Medulloblastoma

Funded by the 2015 Wine Celebration Fund-a-Need