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Baylor College of Medicine News

Grants fund Baylor, Texas Children’s Cancer Center research on novel treatments for pediatric cancer

Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center physicians received nearly $850,000 in five separate grants from the nonprofit St. Baldrick’s Foundation for research aimed at finding novel treatments for pediatric cancer.

“St. Baldrick’s Foundation plays an important role in our work to find better treatments and cures for children with cancer, and we’re grateful for its support,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

The grants were part of $24.7 million in new funding for pediatric cancer research awarded by the foundation. 

Baylor grant recipients included:

Dr. Wendy Allen-Rhoades, instructor in pediatrics, received a $91,889 St. Baldrick’s Fellow grant for the extension of her previously funded project on osteosarcoma. The project aims to develop a blood test that can detect cancer and determine if it has spread to other areas. Allen-Rhoades hopes the test will be more sensitive and easier to use than current methods, and may help improve the survival of children with osteosarcoma.

Dr. Eveline Barbieri, instructor in pediatrics, received a $291,636 St. Baldrick's Scholar award for her research on high-risk neuroblastoma, focusing on novel strategies to promote neuroblastoma differentiation and enhance the clinical efficacy of current differentiating strategies. Her research team is working to undercover important links between differentiation and energy metabolism in neuroblastoma tumor models and to determine the best approach to target the metabolic deregulation occurring in high-risk neuroblastoma.

Dr. Robin Parihar, a pediatric hematology/oncology clinical postdoctoral fellow, received a $147,533 St. Baldrick’s Fellow grant for his project to train the body’s own immune system to recognize and kill specific cells found within solid tumors so they can’t help the tumor grow. 

Dr. Karen Rabin, assistant professor of pediatrics, received a $115,000 St. Baldrick's Scholar award to extend a previous grant from the foundation for her project on acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome are more likely to develop this disease and suffer more frequent and severe complications. Rabin’s research focuses on the role of certain genes and will also investigate whether gene variants associated with severe infection in the general population occur more frequently in those with Down syndrome.

Dr. Jack Su, assistant professor of pediatrics, received a $202,520 Consortium Research Grant for the Texas-Oklahoma Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium in which he serves as lead investigator. This consortium of prominent pediatric cancer centers in Texas and Oklahoma allows researchers to pool tumor samples and scientific expertise to conduct innovative, biology-driven clinical trials to improve survival in children with brain tumors.