Every year, more than 160,000 children in the U.S.
are diagnosed with cancer. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is helping to bring
hope and cures to these children, one head-shaving event at a time.
Since 2000, nearly 145,000 brave volunteers, sponsored by
family and friends, have shaved their heads at St. Baldrick’s events in
solidarity with children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. The
Foundation, located in Monrovia, Calif., leverages these funds to support researchers who
are exploring innovative ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent pediatric cancer,
the leading cause of death by disease for U.S. children.
In this spirit, St. Baldrick’s recently awarded a $100,000
pediatric oncology research grant to Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, MD, assistant
professor of pediatrics and cancer biology at the Stanford University School of
Medicine. Sweet-Cordero’s work focuses on Ewing’s
sarcoma (ES), one of the most common childhood cancers, which affects a child’s
bone or soft tissue.
Photo by Renee Ritchie, courtesy of the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Sweet-Cordero is studying the normal function of the Ewing’s sarcoma protein (EWS) to identify genetic events
that may trigger the development of ES. His lab is also closely evaluating how
this normal function is altered when EWS is fused to another protein called
FLI-1, a key event in the development of ES.
By better understanding EWS in normal cells, Sweet-Cordero
and his team hope to glean valuable information about ES. His research findings
will generate preliminary data required for a larger application to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Photo by Steve Conner, courtesy of the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
“Funding for pediatric sarcoma research is very difficult to
secure, since most grant-making agencies prefer projects related to common
adult cancers,” explains Sweet-Cordero. “Without St. Baldrick’s support, we
would be unable to apply for NIH funding and would face critical delays in our
The Foundation’s singular focus on childhood cancer, as well
as its dedication to helping young, promising scientists grow their labs and
establish preliminary results, make it an ideal match for Sweet-Cordero and his
team at Stanford. Having raised nearly $90 million since 2000, the St.
Baldrick’s Foundation and its research partners are well on their way to
conquering pediatric cancer.