Stand Up To Cancer - St. Baldrick's Pediatric Cancer Dream Team

The Stand Up To Cancer - St. Baldrick's Dream Team is a $14.5 million dollar grant over four years to combat the most hard-to-treat childhood cancers. The dream team is led by John M. Maris, MD, of the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Crystal L. Mackall, MD, of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Not only are the researchers coming together as a team, they are also bringing together two scientific areas that have, until now, been evolving on parallel tracks: genomics (the study of genes and their functions) and immunotherapeutics (using the body's own immune system to attack cancer).


Stand Up To Cancer - St. Baldrick's Pediatric Cancer Dream Team

Jeffrey M. Lipton, MD, PhD: Science can't be dead-end science; it needs to be science where one can actually see a potential clinical utilization of that science and then execute.

Lee J. Helman, MD: I think we were all looking for not just really good science, but something that had the potential to really change the field.

John M. Marris, MD: Our Immunogenomics Dream Team is focused on bringing two very important fields of translational research together. The first being genomics, or our ability to understand the genetic basis of pediatric cancers, and the other being immunotherapy, or the ability to harness the powers of the body's own immune system to attack cancer.

Crystal L. Masckall, MD: We take the best and most advanced study of the tumor itself, which is interrogating the genome, or the DNA of the tumor, all of the messages that tells us how the tumor works and what makes the tumor growth, and use the genomic landscape to identify targets that could be used by the immune system to target the cancer.

Nancy F. Goodman: For the most difficult pediatric cancers sometimes there are treatments that enable kids to survive, but even when they survive oftentimes they survivor with terrible illnesses — cognitive impairments, neurological deficits, secondary cancers.

John M. Marris, MD: There are sets of brain tumors, sarcomas, neuroblastomas and leukemias that have just completely unacceptable cure rates.

Mother: My son Jacob when he was diagnosed, the treatment for his cancer left him wheelchair-bound; he was cognitively impaired. I's not a way to live a life, and unfortunately he didn't make it.

What’s so exciting about this Dream Team is that if it works, there will be opportunity for a cure where children can go on to lead long, happy lives and healthy lives.

Lee J. Helman, MD: What attracted me was the fact that it brought together two distinct groups that usually don't talk to each other.

Crystal L. Masckall, MD: We're so excited about the results with immunotherapies that have come out within the last five years. There are clear signals that immunotherapy is finally evolved to a point where it can have meaningful beneficial effects for cancer patients.

Jeffrey M. Lipton, MD, PhD: We have times where the science is just burgeoning, and I think this is one of those times. The opportunity to translate that science into really excellent clinical outcomes is available.

Crystal L. Masckall, MD: This is big science. They are asking us to think outside the box; to do things that we can't do with any of the standard funding mechanisms that are available.

Phillip A. Sharp, PhD: These two organizations with a complimentary interest in cancer bring passion, communication and science to better treatments of patients.

Jeffrey M. Lipton, MD, PhD: Stand Up To cancer and St. Baldrick's will support really good research and take some the pressure off of scientists who are just about as anxious to get to the cures that we seek as the families and the patients.

Becky Chapman Weaver: There's no such thing as pediatric cancer, there are pediatric cancers — plural — and many of them. One of the things that’s exciting about this particular grant is that it will help kids with a number of different types of cancers, and it will speed the delivery of life-saving treatments for so many kids.

John M. Marris, MD: There's no way this work would happened without something like the Stand Up To cancer or St. Baldrick's Dream Team initiative. I'm very optimistic that this sort of thinking will lead to very important new realities for children with cancer.

Related Centers and Programs: Cancer Center