UH Med Now
JABSOM pediatric cancer researcher welcomes his 10th St. Baldrick’s Foundation summer research fellow
By Deborah Manog Dimaya, Interim Director of Communications
Once again, the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) is among 30 institutions across the U.S. receiving a series of grants from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants. A total of $1.8 million in grants supports the mentorship of St. Baldrick’s Fellows and Summer Fellows at institutes including at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), where Pediatrician and Researcher Bruce Shiramizu, MD has mentored Summer Fellows for 10 years.
This year’s St. Baldrick’s Staff Giving Campaign Summer Fellow is Jessica Natale, a UH Mānoa undergraduate student from Monterey, California. Her work will focus on generating a standardized control of Raman spectroscopy scans to detect pediatric Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
“I hope that I can develop an alternative diagnosis for quicker and more efficient turnaround time, thus allowing the cancers to be detected in its earlier stages,” said Natale. Cancer research is especially close to her heart as she remembers being a child and seeing her own mother struggle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
St. Baldrick’s dedication to provide funding to support the most promising research and to train early career scientists has not wavered, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2005, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation has put a high priority on building the pipeline of pediatric researchers by supporting the next generation of childhood cancer research experts whose work may lead to new and innovative therapies for kids with cancer.
“Back in 2005, there was a fear that if we didn’t train more young pediatric oncology researchers, as the current experts began to retire, there would be a shortage of people with the expertise to move forward with finding new cures for kids,” said Kathleen Ruddy, St. Baldrick’s Foundation CEO. “To avoid this, St. Baldrick’s created specific grant categories to support those early in their career and give them the opportunity and time to do meaningful research that would lead to new discoveries. During this uncertain time, we need to remember that pediatric cancer is not taking a break and that kids with cancer need us more than ever. We encourage people to get involved virtually, fundraise online or visit our website to make a donation so that we can fund our largest annual group of life-saving research grants of the year in June.”
More About the Grants:
St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow grants give college and medical students the chance to spend their summer working in childhood cancer research labs under the mentorship of experts in the field – an experience that will not only result in valuable new research but could also turn them into the next childhood cancer research trailblazers.
St. Baldrick’s Fellow grants provide two to three years of research funding to young doctors training to become pediatric oncology researchers. This grant provides them with protected time in the lab to learn new skills and gives them a launch pad to even bigger research opportunities and, hopefully, a career as an independent researcher with their own lab, spending a lifetime finding better ways to treat childhood cancer.
Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has granted more than $286 million to support the development of childhood cancer treatments that have the potential to impact every kid diagnosed with cancer. This series of grants is the first of several that will be awarded by the Foundation this year. The next round of funding will be announced in July.
About St. Baldrick’s Foundation