St. Baldrick’s Foundation Inaugural Research Summit Sets Key Priorities in the Fight to Cure Kids’ Cancer

Nonprofit Organization Known for Worldwide Head-Shaving Events Helps Fill Gap in Funding for Pediatric Cancer

LOS ANGELES--()--The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money to fund childhood cancer research, today announced significant outcomes from the Foundation’s inaugural Research Priorities Summit that took place January 9 and 10 in New York. The summit was attended by 16 distinguished pediatric oncology researchers along with St. Baldrick’s board members and executive leadership. Summit attendees prioritized where St. Baldrick’s funding should go during the 2010 grant season.

“This is the first summit of its kind for St. Baldrick’s and it is instrumental in helping us further understand the most critical needs of the pediatric cancer community,” says Kathleen Ruddy, executive director for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. “One of the many important outcomes from the summit is an ongoing collaboration with the doctors and researchers who are on the front lines every day in the fight against childhood cancer. These key recommendations will help St. Baldrick’s best utilize the funds raised at our head-shaving events and push toward our goal of finding cures.”

The summit was co-facilitated by Michael P. Link, M.D., and William G. Woods, M.D. Dr. Link is the Lydia J. Lee Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Director of the Bass Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. A leader in the field of pediatric oncology, he has been elected President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for a one-year term beginning June 2011, the first pediatric oncologist to hold this position. Dr. Woods is the Director of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a past president of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO).

One top priority identified at the summit was ongoing funding for clinical trials. The rapid progress in treatment advances over the last 40 years was possible because most children with cancer are treated through clinical trials, their best hope for a cure. The Foundation also reaffirmed its commitment to funding St. Baldrick’s Fellows and Scholars who are the next generation of pediatric cancer researchers at a time when fewer physicians are entering the specialty. St. Baldrick’s will also prioritize funding for translational research, often referred to as “bench to bedside,” taking what is learned in the laboratory and translating it into direct benefits for patients. Lastly, the group recommended focusing on new discovery research which includes finding genetic causes of childhood cancers, studying the hereditary responses of individual patients to drugs used to treat cancer and other key research endeavors.

“The summit allowed the St. Baldrick’s board and executive leadership to get important input from leaders of the scientists that they support,” comments Dr. Woods. “These discussions helped to enhance the board’s overall understanding of the biggest needs in childhood cancer research as well as the scientists’ understanding of the commitment and passion of St. Baldrick’s in working towards a cure for this devastating disease.”

During the summit, participants also recommended three specific focus areas for research: adolescents and young adults (AYA), survivorship and supportive care. Survival rates among teens could increase by 30 percent if they are simply treated by a pediatric oncologist. Approximately 30 percent of childhood cancer survivors go on to develop a serious, life-threatening condition directly caused by the therapies that cured them. St. Baldrick’s will continue funding research to address these issues along with those related to supportive care for children and families who are coping with a cancer diagnosis.

“The discussions and priorities identified during the summit are invaluable and we are grateful to our participants who all graciously volunteered their time and expertise,” says Jeffrey M. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Task Force, director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Schneider Children’s Hospital and president-elect of ASPHO. “We will put these recommendations to immediate use as St. Baldrick’s looks to determine which childhood cancer research initiatives to fund. We plan to have more Research Priorities Summits in the future to make sure our funds are always going to the most current priorities in research.”

St. Baldrick’s has proudly shaved more than 113,000 heads at more than 2,800 events around the world. To make 2010 their strongest year yet, St. Baldrick’s needs more than 40,000 shavees but everyone is encouraged to do their part to support this worthwhile cause! To locate or organize an event in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit www.StBaldricks.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and visit the St. Baldrick’s YouTube channel.

About the St. Baldrick’s Foundation

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation makes grants to research institutions to find new cures for childhood cancer, and to find treatments to ensure a better quality of life for patients and survivors. The Foundation funds research projects conducted by established pediatric cancer experts, as well as younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, offering the best available care for every child. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is grateful to its many volunteers (bald or not!), donors and sponsors, including Allied World, Barbicide, Dowling & Partners, elope and PartnerRe. For more information about St. Baldrick’s, please call 1-888-899-BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.

Contacts

For St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Jayme Burnett, 919-334-3779
jayme.burnett@fleishman.com

Contacts

For St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Jayme Burnett, 919-334-3779
jayme.burnett@fleishman.com