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St. Baldrick's Foundation Announces $330,000 funding of St. Baldrick's Scholar at the University of Michigan Health System

Local grant is part of more than $12.6 million awarded for pediatric oncology research

Please Note: The articles listed in the Cancer Center's News Archive are here for historical purposes. The information and links may no longer be up-to-date.

-added 09/26/08

Ann Arbor - St. Baldrick's Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, awarded $330,000 to fund Sung Won Choi, M.D. of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center as a St. Baldrick's Scholar for three years. St. Baldrick's began as a challenge between friends, and has exploded into the world's largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research. Worldwide, 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year and in the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation coordinates worldwide head-shaving events, with volunteer "shavees" raising money to support childhood cancer research. Since 2000, head-shavings have taken place in 18 countries and 48 U.S. states, raising more than $50.8 million, and shaving more than 72,490 heads.

Dr. Choi is one of the first doctors to be funded as a St. Baldrick's Scholar and overseeing her research will be sponsor, Jamie Ferrara, M.D. Part of a new funding program to further the research of promising young pediatric oncologists, these awards bridge the funding-gap between their fellowships and sources of funding available to more established researchers. These awards will also provide much-needed research funding to doctors during this critical stage of their careers.

Dr. Choi's research project is entitled, The Use of Etanercept (Enbrel) as Sole Treatment for Grade I Acute GVHD. Stem cell transplants using bone marrow from matched donors (not embryonic stem cells) are the only hope for many childhood cancer patients. But graft-verses-host-disease (GVHD) is a life-threatening complication many of these patients experience as a result of transplant. Dr. Choi's research is to find better treatment for GHVD, particularly one not using steroids which cause further complications.

"Building on extensive clinical and preclinical data, I have proposed a Phase II trial of etanercept alone to treat early (Grade I) GVHD of the skin. I believe this highly innovative and timely proposal has the potential to change the standard of care for patients undergoing hematoetic stem cell transplant. Support from this St. Baldrick's award will provide me with the resources to develop a career in clinical investigation with hopes of finding new treatments to ensure improved quality of life in my patients," said Dr. Choi, assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation will fund $110,000 per year for three years for Dr. Choi's work, after which she may apply for an additional two years of funding.

About the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

The mission of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center is the conquest of cancer through innovation and collaboration. One of 41 centers to receive the National Cancer Institute's "comprehensive" designation, the center provides its patients diagnostic, treatment and support services in a collaborative environment, focused on excellence in patient care. Drawing on the strengths of the University of Michigan faculty, the Cancer Center has assembled a team of specialists who are leaders in their fields to unravel the threat of cancer and to provide care and comfort to those it affects.

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!) and donors, including Headblade Ultimate Headcare, PartnerRe, elope and QBE for making life-saving childhood cancer research possible. For more information about St. Baldrick's, please call 1-888-899-BALD or visit www.StBaldrics.org.


Joseph Kelly
Phone: 626-792-8247, ext. 16; Email: Joseph@stbaldricks.org or\

Rachel Black
Phone: 626-792-8247, ext. 17; Email: Rachel@stbaldricks.org.

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Please Note:

The articles listed in the Cancer Center's News Archive are here for historical purposes. The information and links may no longer be up-to-date.

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