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JABSOM pediatric cancer researcher welcomes his 10th St. Baldrick’s Foundation summer research fellow

Date: April 17th, 2020 in Faculty, JABSOM News, Pediatrics, Research, Student Life, UH Manoa    Print or PDF

Jessica Natale St. Baldricks 2020

Undergraduate Jessica Natale, the 2020 St. Baldrick’s Foundation grant recipient will focus on generating a standardized control of Raman spectroscopy scans to detect pediatric Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

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.

“I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals with her (my mother), which drove my interest in medicine. I feel as if I owe my service and contributions to those in the field who kept my mother alive the many times they did,” said Natale, who aspires to become an emergency medicine physician.

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:
To date, St. Baldrick’s has supported 233 students through St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow grants and funded 198 St. Baldrick’s Fellows, many of who are now recognized as leaders in their field.

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
Every two minutes, a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is on a mission to defy childhood cancers by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s you don’t just give to one institution– you give to virtually every institution treating kids with cancer across the U.S. and beyond. As a leader in the pediatric cancer community, St. Baldrick’s works tirelessly to ensure that current and future children diagnosed with cancer will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment from the best leaders in the pediatric oncology field. Join us at StBaldricks.org and help #DFYchildhoodCancers.

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