WASHINGTON -- The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, has awarded a one-year infrastructure grant of $75,000 to Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). The Foundation’s infrastructure grants provide resources to institutions enabling them to conduct more research and enroll more children in clinical trials.
Funds for the grant were raised, in part, by the annual St. Baldrick’s event hosted by Georgetown School of Medicine students. At the event, volunteers “brave a shave” and go bald to stand in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during cancer treatments.
Worldwide a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes, and one in five children diagnosed in the U.S. will not survive. Many scientists say outdated clinical trial design is a critical challenge in translating childhood cancer research discoveries into better treatments. This challenge makes the Foundation’s efforts to fund infrastructure for clinical trial research critical to help conquer childhood cancers.
At GUMC, St. Baldrick’s funding will allow researchers to create a computer database containing information about the DNA changes in several different children’s tumors. The integrative data portal will allow new hypothesis generation, smart selection of patient groups for trials, and finally integrate results from lab to clinic. Using the data portal, scientists can search for genetic patterns that could allow treatments to be tailored to each child.
“The victories of the last several decades in treating childhood cancer have slowed, partly because identifying new therapies is hampered by clinical trial design that doesn’t allow us to fully integrate what we’re learning in the laboratories and through other research efforts,” explains the lead investigator for the St. Baldrick’s grant, Subha Madhavan, PhD, director of the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics at GUMC. “We are beginning to build infrastructure at Georgetown that allows us to collect and analyze robust data that can inform clinical trial design, research and discovery.”
“As a mom first, and a scientist second, I am vitally aware of the importance of this mission, and deeply appreciate and feel honored to receive an award from St. Baldrick’s,” said Madhavan, who is also an assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The medical students, staff and faculty at Georgetown University School of Medicine host a traditional head shaving event every March to support St. Baldrick’s mission,” says Madhavan. “I’m sure the students will be even more motivated when they see the direct benefit of their fundraising efforts right here at Georgetown.”
This year’s St. Baldrick’s event at the School of Medicine is scheduled for April 11, 2013. More information at http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/2013.
About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.