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When CURE’s fiscal year began, we were squarely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and couldn’t begin to predict how the year ahead would unfold. As circumstances became more dire for many families we serve, we quickly realized we needed to invest more funds in supporting our patients and families. At the same time, revenue was declining as the pandemic forced us to cancel events and hold others virtually. While we were confident that our priority needed to be helping families through these extraordinary times, we did not want to let up on research support. How would we be able to do it all, we wondered? Our community answered by giving generously to ensure critical research could move forward even in the pandemic.

Thanks to you, CURE is delighted to announce more than $3 million in research grants for the 2021 fiscal year!

Our research priorities are clear. First, we prioritize research that is likely to reach the bedside within five years. Second, we focus on research that will improve the outcomes for the 20% of children not surviving today’s methods of treatment. In furtherance of these goals, we continue to prioritize precision medicine and advancing the Aflac Precision Medicine Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Four years ago, our funding made the Aflac Precision Medicine Program a reality. The results in these four short years have been dramatic. Since its clinical introduction, genetic sequencing of tumors has provided actionable results in 78% of the patients – meaning that the information obtained through this sequencing impacted the treatment of 78% of the children in some way. What an extraordinary impact this sequencing makes. CURE’s investment of $1.8 million this year will allow the Aflac Precision Medicine Program to provide genetic sequencing for more children in addition to going deeper with the genetic testing – in other words, analyzing even more genes that may be contributing to tumor growth. CURE’s Precision Medicine grant will also enable research into racial and ethnic differences which may affect a child’s outcome. With our funds, scientists will explore and identify the immune factors that contribute to racial and ethnic differences in outcome. This exciting research will significantly impact children of all races diagnosed with cancer now and in the future.

We are again funding the training of three future pediatric oncologists through our Fellowship Program: Dr. Frank Chien, Dr. Robert Lisac (Sam Robb Fellow), and Dr. Sanyu Janardan (Connolly Family Fellow). By funding their training, we remove financial impediments and allow the fellows to focus on research and care of children fighting cancer as they begin their careers.

Your generosity allowed us to do even more than we believed possible. In addition to our precision medicine initiative and our investment in the fellows, CURE is also funding eight individual research projects aimed at solving difficult to cure cancers. Our 2020-2021 Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative includes the following studies:

Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Waitman Aumann, MD     
The role of SIX1 in CALM-AF10 and other t-cell leukemias

Deboray DeRyckere, PhD
Nanoparticle delivery of MRX-2843 for treatment of pediatric leukemia

Robert Castellino, MD
Identifying and targeting therapeutic vulnerabilities in DIPG

Henry Curtis, PhD
Delineating the impact of anti-Galectin-9 immunotherapy on t-cell all epigenetics and survival

Shahab Shubin, MD, PhD 
Deciphering the oncogenic potential of LIN28B in group 3 medulloblastoma

Karen Effinger, MD, MS
Evaluation of vestibular dysfunction in survivors of childhood cand adolescent cancer treated with platinum-based chemotherapies

Swati Bhasin, PhD  
Therapeutic targeting of single cell RNA Seq derived t-all blast signatures

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Michael Chorny, PhD
Combination Therapy of Neuroblastoma Using Co-drug Impregnated Nanocarriers