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Elliot Stieglitz, MD, Assistant Professor, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Kathryn Copple, Executive Director of TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation.

TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation wrapped up 2017 by awarding more than $287,000 to hospitals across the country, in support of cutting-edge research for childhood cancers and patient programs.  Hospitals receiving the grants included Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; University of Colorado, Denver; University of California, San Francisco; Children’s Health Dallas and Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, Texas. 

“We are committed to funding research for childhood cancers at some of the best research centers in the country,” said Joy Cruse, founder of Dallas-based TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation. “Despite being one of the leading causes of death among children, childhood cancer receives very little government funding for research. Therefore, if better treatment protocols and cures are to be found, it will take significant private and corporate support to fund the research.” 

Dr. Hamid Bassiri MD, Ph.D. (in collaboration with Dr. Michael Hogarty) of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received $100,000 to explore the immunometabolism and therapeutic potential of invariant natural killer T Cells in neuroblastoma.  This trial will lead to the design of combinational immunotherapies for difficult to treat neuroblastoma and other solid tumors in the future.

TeamConnor awarded a $62,619 grant to support Dr. Jean Mulcahy Levy, MD, University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Levy’s study focuses on the specific mechanism of cell death caused by a type of new drug treatment (proteasome inhibition) with bortezomib and marizomib (MRZ).  This drug will be used for Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumors (AT/RT), which is a cancer of the central nervous system.

In addition, TeamConnor also awarded $94,414 to support Dr. Mignon Loh, MD, University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Loh will focus on targeted therapeutics in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer of young children where only 50% of children survive the bone marrow transplant. This grant uses excellent technology and science to study drug sensitivities for juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Dr. Loh is one of the most recognized investigators in childhood leukemia. 

“Funding research is imperative to moving closer to cures in the childhood cancer arena,” said Kathryn Copple, executive director of TeamConnor. “We are blessed to have numerous supporters who want to make a difference.  It is through our volunteers, corporate sponsors and private donations that we are able to award numerous grants each year to childhood cancer research projects. TeamConnor has donated more than $2.3 million in its mission to find cures for childhood cancers and we will continue this fight until cures for all childhood cancers are realized.”

In addition to funding these research projects, TeamConnor donated $15,000 to Children’s Health Dallas and $15,000 to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth to fund the Art Box Program. TeamConnor provides resources for hospitals to create personalized boxes of materials, including paints, canvases, crayons, markers, coloring books, digital tablets, and other items for kids to be creative while going through life-saving stem cell transplants in the hospital. These treatments typically result in extended and isolated hospital stays often lasting up to 90 days. During the treatment, a child often has very limited visitation. The Art Box Program drastically improves a patient’s overall experience.  

Every year, more than 12,500 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children, yet the budget of the National Cancer Institute allocates less than four percent of its funds to pediatric cancer research. TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and funding research and treatment programs to find cures for all childhood cancers.   

TeamConnor hosts several events throughout the year to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer research, including the 14th Annual III Forks Golf ClassicMay 6-7, 2018; Splash Out Childhood Cancer, Summer 2018; National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Concert, September 2018; and the 8th Annual Northwestern Mutual Clay Shoot, November 2018.  For more information on how to join the fight against childhood cancer, please visit teamconnor.org or Facebook.com/TeamConnor.  

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