Not only will the award aid immeasurably in increasing the number and quality of phase I and II studies available [now] for children with refractory cancer, but equally importantly, they will help children in the future by training the next generation of leaders in developmental therapeutics.
—Stacey Berg, MD
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a registered 501(c)(3) charity, is furthering its commitment to finding cures for all children with cancer by introducing the ALSF Centers of Excellence program. The Centers of Excellence program aims to fund the research of leading childhood cancer institutions committed to developing and conducting early-phase clinical trials. The first institutions that will receive the funding of $350,000 per year, renewable annually for up to 5 years for a total of $1.75 million, are Baylor College of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the University of California San Francisco.
The Centers of Excellence program will join an already extensive grants program dedicated to finding better treatments and ultimately cures for all children with cancer. The purpose of the program is threefold: to facilitate the evolution of new therapeutic concepts from the preclinical arena into fully developed clinical trials; to rapidly and efficiently conduct phase I and phase II trials of highly innovative therapies; and to train individuals in the field of developmental therapeutics and cancer pharmacology.
New Program Will Be ‘Transformational’
Unlike all of the other ALSF grant programs, the Centers for Excellence applicants were chosen by the Foundation and invited to apply for funding. Those chosen will utilize half of the funds to enhance clinical trial infrastructure and half to support the training of scholars in drug development allowing the clinical trial program to grow in the field of pediatric oncology.
“Since inception with our daughter’s front yard lemonade stand, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has always been dedicated to moving childhood cancer research forward,” said Jay Scott, Alex’s father and Co-Executive Director of the Foundation. “Whether it was through motivating promising young researchers to join the field of oncology or filling the gaps where funding was missing, the Foundation has continued to evolve and will now work toward backing the next generation of leaders in the pediatric cancer field.”
“The ALSF Centers of Excellence Award will be transformational,” said Stacey Berg, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine. “Not only will the award aid immeasurably in increasing the number and quality of phase I and II studies available [now] for children with refractory cancer, but equally importantly, they will help children in the future by training the next generation of leaders in developmental therapeutics.”
At each institution where funding is being given, a Principal Investigator will be charged with overseeing the program. In addition to Dr. Berg at Baylor College of Medicine, Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD, will oversee the program at Dana-Farber, while Katherine Matthay, MD, will lead the program at the University of California San Francisco. ■