The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic in South Texas has received a grant from the nonprofit St. Baldrick's Foundation to boost research efforts and enable more children to enroll in ongoing clinical trials.

The clinic is a joint effort of the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Cancer Foundation Inc., Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children's Cancer Center.

The $43,595 infrastructure grant was part of more than $21 million awarded by the foundation in 2011. St. Baldrick's infrastructure grants are based on the need of the institution and its patients, anticipated results of the grant and local participation in St. Baldrick's events.

Clinical trials

"At the Vannie Cook Clinic we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and hope that researchers find a cure for this devastating disease," said Dr. Juan Carlos Bernini, medical director of the clinic and assistant professor of pediatrics – hematology/oncology at BCM.

"Continued support from the St. Baldrick's Foundation will help us enroll local children with cancer into clinical trials, which is vitally important to improving the overall prognosis of all children with cancer."

Local fund-raising events

St. Baldrick's signature head-shaving events are its chief fundraisers. Three such events have been held in the Rio Grande Valley and another one is scheduled for March.

"The grant from St. Baldrick's Foundation to Vannie E. Cook Clinic is wonderful news," said Bob Heiser, local volunteer event co-organizer for the Pharr, Texas, head-shaving event. "It will result in more Rio Grande Valley children with cancer participating in clinical trials and enable trial results to be shared worldwide with cancer researchers."

St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. For more information about the foundation, including information on organizing a community event, visit

The Vannie Cook Clinic opened its doors in 2001 and has seen more than 5,000 patients who otherwise would have to travel away from home for life-saving treatment. The Vannie Cook Clinic's goal is to provide all patients with the highest quality of health care regardless of their ability to pay.