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Social Workers in the Emergency Department shine a light for families during their darkest days

June 03, 2019

Nancy Belt, LCSW, has known she wanted to be a hospital social worker since she was in high school.

“My mother is a nurse, and one of her close friends was a social worker at the nearby hospital,” she said. “After hearing about her work, I knew that’s what I wanted to do too, and from then on, that was my goal.”

Nancy went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work and started her career in the Emergency Department at Children’s Medical Center Dallas in 1998. She’s been there ever since.

With 122,000 average yearly visits, the Children’s Medical Center Dallas Emergency Room is one of the busiest pediatric emergency rooms in the nation and the only pediatric Level I trauma center in North Texas. For Nancy, that means she and her team members have thousands of opportunities each year to support children and their families on what may be some of the hardest days of their life.

“In trauma situations, typically only one parent is allowed to accompany the patient during transport – whether it’s by air or via ambulance,” said Nancy. “So once they arrive at the hospital, while our medical team is providing life-saving care to their child, these parents are often waiting on their own until additional family members arrive. That’s when we step in. When we’re standing by those parents’ sides, comforting them until their support system arrives, there’s no question in my mind that we’re making a difference in that moment.”

Social workers are available 24/7 on both the Dallas and Plano campuses, responding during crisis situations such as child abuse cases, behavioral and mental health incidents and trauma cases, as well as helping families gain access to appropriate resources – both in and outside of the hospital – and advocating for family members to their child’s care team, when needed.

“Social workers often are the first to provide a behavioral or psychological assessment for our patients and are equipped to make recommendations for that patient’s next steps, whether that be inpatient care or connecting them with the right resources to support the child and their family safely at home,” said Nancy. “We’re also able to help support families with the logistical and financial issues that may arise during their child’s unplanned hospitalization such as helping with food, lodging or even extra clothing.”

There’s no question that social workers play an invaluable role in providing compassionate and comprehensive care for some of our most vulnerable patients and their families, especially those who come through the Emergency Room. And they are just one of the many teams who continue to provide insightful feedback as we move forward with the recently-launched $56 Million Emergency Room Renovation Project.

One of the aspects of the renovation project Thresa Belcher, Director, Child Life and Social Work, is most excited about is the addition of a Social Work office located right in the middle of the Emergency Room.

“Because the Social Work team plays such an important role in caring for the whole family while their child is in the Emergency Room, the new Social Work office, which will be easily accessible to all patient care areas, will further support our ability to care for these children and their families by enabling us to allocate our resources where they are most needed,” said Thresa.

Our community has already shown tremendous support for the Emergency Room Renovation project, contributing $16 million toward our $30 million philanthropic goal to ensure we are able to expand our resources to meet the needs of children in the North Texas region and beyond.

“Thanks to charitable gifts from our donors, when a family brings their child to the new Emergency Room at Children’s Health, not only are they going to get the best medical care possible for their child, they will also find several members of our Family Support Services team,” said Thresa. “Social workers, child life specialists, chaplains and our concierges are ready to assess how their visit to the ER is affecting the entire family and to step in to provide support and guidance in the best way possible.”

 

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Kohl's Cares Program Sees Significant First Year Success

March 06, 2019

A significant access point for Children’s Health’s CHIP and Medicaid patient population is an emergency room visit, and often for low acuity visits. A low acuity visit is defined as a 3, 4, or 5; common low acuity visits are illness connected to ears, nose, throat, tummy aches, and fevers. High acuity visits are 1 and 2, involving trauma and multiple organs in need.

In 2017, Kohl’s Cares funded a new program for Children’s Health, What to do When Your Child Gets Sick, providing $800,000 for two years.  The purpose is to provide access to care to the CHIP and Medicaid population, including improved access to information.  The program theorized that providing access to information in two formats – the book, Know What to Do When Your Child is Sick, and a list of all primary care pediatricians (PCPs) in North Texas  – would help improve health knowledge.  To measure the effectiveness of the education tool, the number of repeat low acuity patient visits was measured. We saw a 6% decrease* in repeat low acuity patient visits to the Emergency Room at Children's Medical Center Dallas. 

*There are multiple variables when a parent is deciding why to bring their child into the emergency room.  While we believe the percentage decrease could be attributed to the parent utilizing the book, we acknowledge that the book is not the sole reason for the reduction in repeat low acuity patient visits.

 

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Children’s Health Begins $56 Million Renovation to Children’s Medical Center Dallas Emergency Room

December 20, 2018

Children’s HealthSM, the eighth-largest pediatric health care provider in the nation and leading pediatric health care system in North Texas, has begun construction on a $56 million, multi-year renovation to its emergency room at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, its flagship hospital. The renovation will take place in three phases over the next several years with completion expected in 2021. During this time, the Charles E. and Sarah M. Seay Emergency Center will remain fully operational with a continued focus on quality patient care and safety.

Children’s Medical Center Dallas is home to the only pediatric Level I Trauma Center in North Texas, and its emergency room is the second busiest pediatric emergency department in the nation. It treats approximately 122,000 children annually with around-the-clock board-certified pediatric emergency medicine specialists.

“As one of the largest and most complex pediatric hospitals in the nation, we are fully modernizing and renovating our emergency room at our flagship hospital to meet the needs of our growing patient population,” said David Berry, president of system clinical and scientific operations at Children’s Health. “We receive and treat a large portion of children within the community, and believe this renovation will enable us to better serve families across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and North Texas.”

Following phase one of the renovation, the emergency room will encompass two stories with a new street-level public entrance. In addition, the interior will be completely refreshed and redesigned to include a dedicated street-level waiting room. As the renovation progresses, all emergency room patient rooms will be larger, private and have state-of-the-art medical technology and equipment. It will also include a new triage area, enhanced trauma rooms and specialized procedure rooms. Many patient rooms will function as universal rooms, increasing efficiencies for team members and patient families.

“This renovation is a core component of our ongoing consumer-centric work to transform the patient experience at Children’s Health,” said Keri Kaiser, senior vice president, chief marketing officer and chief experience officer at Children’s Health. “We’re reimagining the ER experience for patient families and our team members.”

The interior of the emergency room will be redesigned with patients in mind with exciting new landscapes, from the fascinating depths of the ocean to the adventurous setting of the jungle to the brave new heights of the mountains.

"The emergency room is often the ‘front door’ to our health system,” said Matt Davis, executive vice president, Dallas Market at Children’s Health. “Every decision for this renovation was carefully analyzed to keep the preferences of our patients and their families in mind while providing them with comfort and the most efficient, high quality care.”

Phase one of the renovation is expected to be complete in 2019, phase two in 2020 and the final phase in 2021.

To learn more about our fundraising efforts or make a gift towards the ER Renovation, please give us a call or donate below. 

Donate Now

 

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Our Children's House: The Best Care Right Out of the Gait

November 06, 2018

Highly specialized equipment, thanks to a Crystal Charity Ball gift, has kids back on track

By Patrick McGee

Selene Gonzalez could not move. A rare and sudden bacterial infection had stripped the Dallas 14-year-old of all ability to move her arms and legs. She could not move her head or talk; she could only communicate by blinking.

It was such a desperate situation, that her mother, Maria Gonzalez, found herself in church praying for any kind of mercy He could give.

“I told God, ‘If you’re going let her live, let her live. If you’re going to take her, take her now because I don’t want to see her suffer,’ ” she recounted, with tears running down her face.

Selene was sent to Our Children’s House, Children’s Health’s rehabilitative inpatient facility. Physical therapists placed her in a new piece of equipment called Erigo Pro, which held her upper body in place with a chest strap. Each leg was strapped into leg braces that could move each limb, and small stickers were taped to her skin to deliver safe electrical stimulus to her muscles. The machine was turned on, and something of a miracle happened.

“My muscles started to wake up,” Selene said.

It was the beginning of a nearly full recovery. She walked out of Our Children’s House. Her ability to walk and move continued to improve at home. Selene showed a cell phone video of the at-home recovery with her father holding her like they are dancing as she struggled to take each step.

Now she can do nearly everything she was able to do before the bacterial infection hit her without warning. She said the only hold over from the ordeal is slow handwriting. She returned to school and to playing softball. Now a high school sophomore, Selene participates in Junior ROTC, with the goal of someday serving in the Army.

Selene and her family enjoyed a success story of biblical proportions, and it happened just 2½ miles from Children’s Health’s flagship campus, Children’s Medical Center Dallas. The new, 40,000-square-foot facility replaced the former Our Children’s House that Children’s Health acquired from Baylor Scott & White Health in 2015. And it happened because the Crystal Charity Ball in 2017 provided $1.1 million for the Erigo Pro and three other new pieces of state-of-the-art equipment that helps patients with gait, balance, muscular endurance and other mobility issues.

“It’s the full spectrum of equipment that we wanted to have, that worked on all access of gait and mobility and could be used for kids who are very low-level cognitively all the way up to kids who are active and can fully participate,” said Dr. Robert Rinaldi, Children’s Health’s division chief of pediatric rehabilitation. “We’re addressing all aspects of mobility: balance, sensory input, motor control, strength, endurance and nerve recovery.” Dr. Rinaldi is also an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and of pediatrics at UT Southwestern.

In addition to the Erigo Pro at Our Children’s House that helped Selene walk again, the Crystal Charity Ball grant also enabled the purchase of three pieces of equipment for the new Children’s Health Specialty Center, located one-half mile from Children’s Medical Center Dallas. In the one year that it has been open, more than 4,000 patients have been treated in the 13,000-square-foot facility.

One of those high-tech items, the NeuroCom Balance Manager, safely holds patients in place with a harness while the base wobbles underfoot and a landscape scene moves at eye level. An attached computer shows highly precise data on the patient’s balance, helping therapists tailor therapy to a patient’s precise needs and ability.

Another piece has robotic leg braces that help children with little or no ability to walk. There’s also a pool which has a wide treadmill for a floor, an underwater video camera and bubble jets to provide varying levels of resistance.

Each piece of equipment can be adjusted to the needs of the tiniest, weakest child. The pool floor can be elevated, making it as deep or as shallow as necessary, accommodating patients as young as 6-months-old.

Water rushes in from all sides when the pool floor is lowered, and patients like 4-year-old R.H. Barnett get excited at the sight of it. Standing on the pool floor, he gleefully crouches down to meet the heated water as it floods in around him.

“He loves how the floor goes down. He thinks it’s magic,” R.H.’s mother, Jessica Barnett, said. Her son uses the therapy to beat back the limits of cerebral palsy, but it seems like he’s having fun more than doing work. His mother said the pool provides for therapy not possible any other way.

“Because he’s more weightless than he is on land, he’s working on walking backward, on his static balance and on pushing off of something,” she said.

R.H.’s therapist has him working on mobility, stepping on and over a submerged box and working his way toward a beach ball floating in front of him.

Dr. Rinaldi said the pool provides patients with a sense of where they are in space that differs from walking on land. It’s valuable sensory information that builds new abilities.

“It’s part of retraining the nervous system to provide that information to the brain,” he said. “That kind of feedback from the water is enormously important to understand. It’s that sensory aspect of mobility and motion that we rarely ever think about.”

The Lokomat, the robotic gait trainer, has robotic leg braces that move a patient’s legs while a treadmill moves at a controlled pace at the patient’s feet. This is a huge improvement from having patients on a treadmill with a therapist trying to manually move each leg, said Dana Walsh, senior director for rehabilitation and therapy services.

“Consecutive stepping is something we can only replicate for so long if we’re manually doing it,” she said.

This method requires only one therapist, and that therapist can monitor a computer screen full of data on the patient’s progress. This is time better spent because therapist can make immediate adjustments to the treadmill speed and how much the robotic legs are assisting to nudge the child toward greater mobility.

To the children, though, it doesn’t seem like work. The treadmill is in front of a large screen that shows a cartoon robot trying to out run them in a race to grab gold coins. It’s an incentive to keep kids moving, and it’s wildly popular. Patients often point to the robot yelling, “Make him go faster!”

Each piece of equipment can be adjusted to the child’s size and challenges. Each addresses several issues so their use can be mixed and matched to meet countless patient needs. Therapists said they are just beginning to learn the new abilities they have to help patients.

“That’s what makes this program distinct,” Dr. Rinaldi said. “It really provides so much more opportunity and promise to help these kids that we didn’t have before.”

 

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Telemedicine - Keeping the Community Connected

October 23, 2018

‘Taking medical care to the next level’ is the goal of telemedicine

The flu hit with record-breaking fury in late 2017 and early 2018; with more than 130 deaths in Dallas-Fort Worth, it killed far more people in North Texas than Hurricane Harvey did in Houston.

Fortunately for many families, Children’s Health had laid the groundwork for just such an emergency. Starting in 2013, Children’s Health initiated a unique School-Based Telehealth program that is now the fastest-growing program of its kind in the nation and the only one in North Texas.

Rolling kiosks in more than 100 schools are now equipped with video conferencing technology that allows the school nurse, a patient and a Children’s Health physician to interact virtually. An electronic stethoscope sends real-time audio of a patient’s heart beat while another instrument shows high-definition video of the patient’s eye, nose, ear, throat or skin. The video is so sharp that doctors can see detail down to a hair follicle. Test kits for ailments such as flu and strep were stockpiled in nurses’ offices, ready to be administered at a doctor’s order.

The School-Based Telehealth program has expanded in five years to encompass 17 school districts. More than 20,000 students are enrolled in the program, with more than 5,000 virtual encounters recorded last year. This has proven enormously cost-effective and efficient: Children don’t miss classroom time; parents don’t miss work; and more kids have access to treatments early on before their conditions worsen and may require a visit to the emergency room.

 Last winter’s brutal flu season demonstrated just how far-sighted and proactive Children’s Health was in establishing the program.

For parents like Trisha Rushing and Amber Ayres who have children in elementary school in McKinney, the program was critical. Their children both contracted the flu, and the Children’s Health telemedicine option provided timely diagnosis without the inconvenience of a trip to the doctor. More importantly, it slowed the spread of the flu by quickly getting contagious kids out of school.

All four of Trisha Rushing’s children tested positive for the flu in the 2017-2018 school year. She said telemedicine was a huge and immediate help because her kids were tested and diagnosed by a doctor who immediately called in an anti-viral prescription to the family’s drug store.

“It has saved the kids from having to leave school and go sit in a doctor’s office inconveniently, uncomfortably and then take more time to get the prescription filled,” Ms. Rushing said. “It’s more convenient for the kids, and it’s more convenient for me because I can still work while they’re being seen by a doctor, and then I can go pick up their prescription on the way home. It’s been a lifesaver.”

6-year-old Trevor Ayres, a McKinney first grader who was diagnosed with the flu through school telemedicine, and his mom, Amber Ayres

Ms. Ayres said telemedicine also made life easier for her when her 6-year-old son, Trevor, tested positive for the flu. His telemedicine consent form was already on file because the previous year he had tested positive for strep during a virtual visit. Before the strep throat diagnosis, Mrs. Ayres said she was not aware that telemedicine was available.

“I said something like, ‘Man, I am going to have to see if I can get him to the doctor today. It’s going to cost $150.’ And the school nurse said something like, ‘If you fill out a consent form, we can test him here,’ ” she said.

The next year, flu was a hot topic among parents as constant news reports documented its spread. Mrs. Ayres told another parent about telemedicine.

“She said, ‘Wait, what? She can just test the kids right there in the nurse’s office? Where’s the consent form? I’ll sign it.’ ” Mrs. Ayres recalled.

Leaders of the Children’s Health telemedicine program said this immediate, meaningful help for families was their goal. They sought to make things more convenient for parents who signed up for telemedicine while also helping the greater good by getting sick kids out of school if they are contagious. It was a dramatic improvement over just sending kids home if they had flu symptoms, according to Danielle Wesley, Children’s senior director of school-based initiatives.

“In many cases the school nurse calls and says, ‘Pick up your child, and you may not be able to come back tomorrow.’ A lot of times our parents were spending time at the emergency room,” she said.

Ms. Wesley said Children’s Health’s work in telemedicine has extended its expertise into urban and suburban schools as well as rural areas nearly 80 miles from the Children’s Medical Center Dallas campus. Many children reached have no medical home at all, she said.

Additionally, there are plans to expand the program to  help children with disease management by providing education, monitoring and follow-up for chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies and weight management.

Dr. Stormee Williams, a Children’s Health pediatrician and medical director of school telemedicine, said she was interested in the program as soon as it started taking shape in 2013.

“When we did the pilot program, I saw what an impact this could have,” Dr. Williams said. “I said, ‘If this ever goes full time I want to do it.’ I think this is the future. l think this is what’s going to take health care to the next level.”

 

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Love’s Travel Stops Raises $50,664.82 for Children's Health during 19th Annual Fundraising Campaign

October 22, 2018

Love’s Travel Stops (Love’s) customers and employees recently wrapped up a five-week fundraising campaign, raising $50,664.82 for Children’s Health, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. 

More than 470 stores across the United States participated in the national campaign that raised a record $3.4 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since 1999, Love’s has raised more than $28 million for the nonprofit.

“It’s inspiring to see the level of compassion and dedication our employees show each year during this campaign,” said Jenny Love Meyer, vice president of communications for Love’s. “Each Love’s location is passionate about fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals because they see the difference it makes in lives across the country and in their local communities. We’re thankful for the customers who support this cause every year and are incredibly proud of our store teams for helping us exceed our goal.”

From August 26-September 30, Love’s team members asked customers to round up their change on gas and restaurant purchases, sold CMN Hospitals’ Miracle Balloons for donations and held numerous events to raise funds to help kids in local communities. Love’s showed additional support for Children’s Health on National Coffee Day. On Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29, all 24-ounce hot beverages were discounted to $1, with all money collected from the area going to Children’s Health.

Nationally, Love’s employees surpassed their goal of raising $3 million. 

“We are so grateful for Love’s 19 years of unwavering commitment to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Love’s team members and Customers have refueled our hospitals with critically needed funds to provide specialized equipment as well as lifesaving research and treatment to kids and their families regardless of their ability to pay.”

Pediatric medical care is the most expensive to provide, in part because of all the different sizes of equipment needed to treat kids ranging in size from a one-pound micro-preemie to a seven-foot high school basketball player. Children’s hospitals also open their doors to all kids, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Member hospitals in the U.S. provide $3.4 billion in charity care annually.

The money raised at each Love’s location benefits sick and injured children in that community. Of the 170 CMN Hospitals members throughout North America, 101 benefit from Love’s annual campaign.

About Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores (Love’s) is the nation’s industry-leading travel stop network with more than 470 locations in 41 states.  Founded in 1964 and headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the company remains family-owned and operated and employs more than 22,000 people. Love’s provides professional truck drivers and motorists with 24-hour access to clean and safe places to purchase gasoline, diesel fuel, fresh coffee, restaurant offerings, and more. Love’s has more than 250 on-site Truck Tire Care centers and 53 Speedco locations, which is the largest oil change and preventative maintenance nationwide network on the road today. Love’s is committed to providing customers with “Clean Places, Friendly Faces” at every stop.  To learn more, visit loves.com.

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.

 

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Local Walmart and Sam’s Club Associates, Customers and Members Raise $400K for Children's Health

October 17, 2018

National campaign crosses $1 billion in fundraising since 1987

Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members in Dallas put their money where the miracles are during the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising campaign.

The Dallas area raised $404,665 for Children’s Health. The effort was part of a national campaign for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which resulted in $35 million raised, putting the total raised in the U.S. and Canada since 1987 over the $1 billion mark.

“Research done by Engage for Good shows that the cumulative $1 billion in cash raised for CMN Hospitals over the years by Walmart and Sam’s Club represents the largest amount ever raised for a nonprofit by one company in North America,” said David Hessekiel, president of Engage for Good, a trade group that tracks cross-sector efforts to generate positive social and business impacts.

Donations poured in Aug. 27 to October 7, as Walmart and Sam’s Club associates at 118 locations held various in-store fundraising activities and asked customers and members at the register to help kids live better.

Because of Walmart, its customers and employees, we are able to help more patients and their families than ever before through life-saving research.

“The $1 billion raised by Walmart and Sam’s Club customers, members and associates has changed the world of children’s healthcare,” said John Lauck, president and CEO, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Because of their generosity, tens of millions of kids across the U.S. and Canada are living better.”

Walmart and Sam's Club funds impact each of the 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which treat one in 10 children across North America. Hospitals use the funds based on what they need most — typically providing lifesaving equipment and research, supporting top therapy programs and providing charitable care.

For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, visit: www.CMNHospitals.org.

 

About Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity's Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit's mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children's hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.

 

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Stem cell biologist Sean Morrison elected to the National Academy of Medicine

October 15, 2018 - CRI

UT Southwestern Professor Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Dr. Morrison, a Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern known for his significant discoveries in stem cell biology and cancer, is among 75 new members and 10 international members of NAM announced today. With his election, 17 current UT Southwestern faculty members have now been inducted into the organization.

The NAM – formerly known as the Institute of Medicine – recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and a commitment to service. Along with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the NAM advises the nation and the international community on critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy.

“We are honored that the National Academy of Medicine has recognized the significance of Dr. Morrison’s research in stem cell and cancer biology,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Dr. Morrison pioneered new methods to purify stem cells from multiple tissues and discovered molecular mechanisms that allow stem cells to persist throughout life and regenerate tissues after injury.”

Dr. Podolsky, a NAM member as well, holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

“I am grateful for this recognition for my laboratory’s work, and particularly thankful for the support of my colleagues at UT Southwestern and Children’s Health,” said Dr. Morrison, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.“This is a remarkable environment in which to do science, with many inspiring colleagues.”

Dr. Morrison, who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics, identified a series of genes required for stem cell self-renewal. Self-renewal is necessary for stem cells to persist throughout life and regenerate tissues after injury. Stem cell self-renewal mechanisms change over time to match the changing growth and regeneration demands of tissues during development and aging, his research showed. Dr. Morrison also discovered that tumor-suppressor genes are induced in aging stem cells, inhibiting the development of cancer but also reducing the ability of aging tissues to heal after injury.

 

The identity of the supporting cells that sustain stem cells was unknown prior to the Morrison laboratory identifying the specialized microenvironments, or niches, in blood-forming tissues that maintain stem cells. His team discovered that blood-forming stem cells reside adjacent to blood vessels where they depend on growth factors produced by endothelial cells and Leptin Receptor+ (LepR+) cells. The (LepR+) cells are a major source of the growth factors that regulate stem cell maintenance, blood cell production, and the regeneration of the blood-forming system after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The (LepR+) cells also include skeletal stem cells that are a major source of bone and growth factors that maintain the adult skeleton.

“Sean Morrison’s successes at the forefront of discovering new knowledge about cancer, including the very ways that research is conducted, aptly merit the exceptional distinction of being elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine,” said Christopher J. Durovich, President and Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Health. “Moreover, the leadership of Dr. Morrison while pursuing his vision for exploiting the intersection of cancer, stem cell biology and metabolism, has enabled Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern to move rapidly from a novel idea to a portfolio of leading laboratories making profound contributions to the health and well-being of everyone.”

Dr. Morrison, who joined UT Southwestern in 2011 as Director of CRI, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Dalhousie University in Canada and a Ph.D. in immunology at Stanford University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology at Caltech and directed the University of Michigan’s Center for Stem Cell Biology.

Dr. Morrison served as President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in 2015-2016. At UT Southwestern, Dr. Morrison is also a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar in Cancer Research and member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas.

Current NAM members at UT Southwestern and the year of their induction are: Dr. Joseph Takahashi(2014), Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky(2009), Dr. Bruce Beutler (2008), Dr. Thomas Südhof and Dr. Luis Parada (2007), Dr. Ellen Vitetta (2006), Dr. Steven McKnight (2005), Dr. Helen Hobbs (2004), Dr. Eric Olson (2001), Dr. Norman Gant (2001), Dr. Kern Wildenthal (1999), Dr. Carol Tamminga(1998), Dr. Scott Grundy(1995), Dr. Jean Wilson(1994), Dr. Michael Brown(1987), and Dr. Joseph Goldstein(1987).

About CRI

Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is a joint venture of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the flagship hospital of Children’s Health. CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological basis of disease. Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is home to interdisciplinary groups of scientists and physicians pursuing research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology, and metabolism. For more information, visit: cri.utsw.edu. To support CRI, visit: cri.utsw.edu/support/.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.4 million outpatient visits a year.

 

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Breakfast With Santa Spectacular Is Heading North With A Very Popular Elf For Its 30th Anniversary

October 11, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

With Christmas nearing, Jacque Marvin, Kristin Mitchell and Andrea Nayfa and their new best elf friend in the entire world — Santa — have put together big plans for the 30th Anniversary of Breakfast with Santa Spectacular. The annual fundraiser for the Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Dallas will be taking place on Sunday, December 2.

And hold on to your reindeers! It’s going to take place at NorthPark Center with the NorthPark Santa ho-ho-hoing for photos with guests from 10 a.m. to noon.

Of course, there will be a kid-friendly breakfast plus face painting, balloon art, character appearances, spectacular holiday entertainment including musical performances, dancing, excerpts from the Nutcracker and more.

The Event Co-Chairs Jacque, Kristin and Andrea have even arranged for Lantern Capital Partners and NorthPark to serve as presenting sponsors and to have Jessica Nowitzkiand Kimberly Schlegel Whitman served as honorary co-chairs.

According to Jessica and Kimberly, “We can’t wait for the magical morning that brings joy to so many, from the worthy recipients of its fundraising efforts to the children and families who enjoy the event. There is nothing like seeing the excitement on a child’s face when they meet Santa, knowing they are having a memory-making experience for such a worthy cause makes it even more special. We are grateful to NorthPark, Lantern Capital and all of the donors who make this possible.”

Thanks to funds raised by the Women’s Auxiliary such programs as Critical Care, Rehabilitation and Therapy Services, Volunteer Services, Pet Therapy, Child Life, Social Work, Campus Beautification and the Women’s Auxiliary Scholarship Fund are supported. Why just last year the Auxiliary provided Children’s with a check for $677,720.

Tickets start at $85 and are available here. There are also sponsorship opportunities, too!

If you’ve ever waited ages in line for your munchkin to check things out with NorthPark Santa, then you know this get together just became the #1 thing on your must-do list.

 

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Brent Christopher To Receive The 2019 Ruth And Ken Altshuler Callier Cares Award

September 26, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

Callier Cares Luncheon Chair Beth Layton just announced plans for the 2019 Callier Cares Luncheon. Scheduled to take place at the Dallas Country Club on Monday, April 15, longtime community leader Brent Christopher will receive the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Cares Award.

It was a timely announcement following last Thursday’s North Texas Giving Day, which was launched in 2009 by Communities Foundation of Texas under Brent’s Leadership. Just two years ago, Brent moved his bow tie to Children’s Medical Center Foundation where he is president.

Beth also revealed that Sharon and Mike McCullough will serve as honorary co-chairs of the fundraiser for the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.

Attending today’s announcement were Ken Altshuler, Callier Board President Tricia George, Luncheon Underwriting Chair Nancy Carter and Dr. Tom Campbell.

 

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Hyundai Hope On Wheels Presents A $500K Check To Children’s Medical Center Foundation For Pediatric Cancer Research

September 25, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

With September being National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Hyundai folks popped by Children’s Medical Center to celebrate the motor company’s 20thanniversary of Hyundai Hope on Wheels, the nonprofit committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer.

Reese Lewis, Sadie Keller and London Blair Holding $500,000 Check

While cancer-surviving kiddos like Sadie Keller, Reese Lewis and London Blair left their handprints on a shiny white 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Motors America Regional Digital Marketing Manager Jake Casmir and area dealers presented a $500,000 check to Children’s Medical Foundation  for two grants that will be used by Dr. Erin Butler and Dr. Ted Laetsch, pediatric oncologists at Children’s Health and instructor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Erin Butler and Dr. Ted Laetsch

The Hyundai Hope Scholar and Young Investigator grants will help to expand “the knowledge base of pediatric cancer and improve the stand of care.”

To bring home the point how vital the research is, Jake reminded the group that every 36 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer in the U.S.

In the past 20 years, Hyundai Hope On Wheels has provided more than $145M in battling cancer, with $14.1M going to 38 researchers, including Erin and Ted this year.

 

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CRI Researchers Receive $6.1 Million in Support from CPRIT

September 17, 2018 - CRI

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded more than $6.1 million to Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) for cancer research and prevention.

Several CRI researchers including CRI’s Director, Dr. Sean MorrisonDr. Ralph DeBerardinis and Dr. Prashant Mishra received $5,998,327 to study the regulation of metabolism in metastatic melanoma. Cancer that has metastasized, or spread beyond the site of its original appearance, is far more likely to be fatal, and this work is aimed at uncovering some of the conditions that lead to metastasis, with the ultimate aim of slowing or preventing metastasis.

This study extends prior work from the Morrison and DeBerardinis laboratories showing that anti-oxidants benefit cancer cells more than normal cells, and promote the survival of melanoma cells during metastasis. By better understanding the underlying mechanisms, the team hopes to develop pro-oxidant therapies that would block metastasis.

Another $200,000 was awarded to Dr. Jian Xu to develop new experimental and computational tools to study acute myeloid leukemia. The study will search for structural variations in the human genome, such as insertions or deletions in DNA. These results will help translate findings from cancer genetic studies to mechanism-based therapies for blood cancers.

 

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How A Simple Act Of Empathy Led To A $1M Gift For Child Life Specialists At Children’s Medical Center

September 03, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

There are certain moments that take root in the memory for decades. For Carolyn Brown, one such moment took place more than 30 years ago. It involved her little grandson, Russell McKeown. No, it wasn’t a birthday party, or watching Russell take his first crawl around the living-room floor. Instead, the matriarch of the Brown family was being helped by a volunteer at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

At the age of six months, it seems, Russell had been diagnosed with cancer. As he was being prepared for surgery to remove a tumor near his spinal cord, Carolyn was comforted by one particular hospital volunteer who’d had a child with cancer himself. The volunteer, who’d gotten to know Carolyn and her family well, was right there when little Russell was wheeled into the operating room for his surgery.

“I didn’t know if I could handle it, and he tapped me on my shoulder and said, ‘He’s going to be all right,” Carolyn remembers.

That simple act of empathy from someone who knew how she felt helped them all get through the trying time. And, the volunteer turned out to be right. Today Russell is a vibrant, healthy 32-year old who went to college, has a job, loves the outdoors and has loads of friends.

He also has grandparents who weren’t satisfied with just writing a thank-you note to Children’s for its attentive doctors and nurses and extraordinary volunteers.

According to Carolyn, “Because of the experience we had, we realized that when you come into this situation, you’re frightened; you don’t know what lies ahead of you. We wanted to do something to help the families as well as the child, to make it more comfortable for them, to give them more support.”

Jennifer Arthur, Chris And Ellen McKeown, Russell McKeown and Carolyn And David Brown

To show their appreciation and support for families facing similar challenges, Carolyn and her husband David Brown have made a $1M donation to Children’s Cancer Fund to establish the new Carolyn and David Brown Endowment for Child Life honoring Russell. It is the “first endowment dedicated to the work of Child Life specialists who work in the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders” at Children’s Health.

The Children’s Cancer Fund is a nonprofit that was founded in 1982 by parents of children being treated for cancer at Children’s Medical Center. The Gill Center has been rated one of the nation’s best pediatric cancer facilities.  Child Life specialists, funded entirely by philanthropy, soften the blow of hospitalization and difficult treatments by offering the likes of music therapy, art therapy, and pet therapy.

Children’s Cancer Fund Executive Director Jennifer Arthur said, “CCF is committed to curing kids’ cancer and providing compassionate care. Child Life is a critical part of care and until we find a cure for cancer, we will do everything we can do to comfort kids and their families as they navigate their diagnosis and treatment.”

Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher added, “This remarkable gift … will make an impact long into the future for the patients at Children’s Health, and we are deeply grateful. Providing this gift through the Children’s Cancer Fund is significant for so many reasons, big and small, but mostly because of CCF’s long support of pediatric cancer research. That support started as a grassroots effort and has grown to make an enormous difference in the outcomes for so many kids — as in Russell’s case — over the last 35 years.”

As for Russell, he admitted that he didn’t remember any of the anxieties facing his grandparents and his parents, Ellen and Chris McKeown. But he did recall meeting Dallas Cowboys icons Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach while participating as a child model in the CCF’s annual Children’s Cancer Fund Fashion Show and Gala fundraiser. “You’re special that day,” he says, “particularly when you’re on stage and people are clapping.”

This past Friday, April 27, Russell was on stage for the annual fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Dallas once again. But this time, it was as one of the celebrity escorts.

BTW, the Browns’ gift was timed just perfectly. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.

 

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eGency Global Esports Event to Raise Money for Dallas-based Children’s Health

July 18, 2018

OP Live Dallas, a premier esports event, will be held Sept. 22-23, 2018 at the Irving Convention Center in Irving, Texas. The money raised during the event will be donated to Extra LifeTM, a division of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, which supports local children’s hospitals including Children’s Health.

eGency Global, a leading esports production, marketing and talent management firm, in collaboration with SMU (Southern Methodist University) Guildhall, the top ranked graduate school for video game design in the world, are pleased to announce that funds raised at OP Live Dallas, will directly benefit local children through Children’s Health.

The money will be donated to Extra Life, a charitable organization founded by video gamers in 2008 and dedicated to “Playing Games to Help Local Kids.” The organization has raised more than $40 million since it began and in 2010, Extra Life became affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Local gamers will be raising funds prior to OP Live Dallas and while they compete at the event.

“As a member of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the fact that funds raised locally stay local is important to both us and the gamers who raise funds for Extra Life,” Children’s Health Manager of Corporate Engagement Aracely Muñoz said. “We couldn’t be more excited that OP Live Dallas will benefit the children we serve, while raising awareness about Children’s Health as a charity of choice.”

“We are delighted to collaborate with Extra Life and Children’s Health for OP Live Dallas,” eGency Global Marketing Director Stephanie Chavez said.

“The impact Children’s Health has on the children of North Texas is far greater than people realize. Not only is it the second busiest pediatric health care provider in the nation, Children’s Health is a nationally ranked Best Hospital in 10 specialties by U.S. News and World Report. Most important, Children’s Health works tirelessly to provide the best level of care for every patient and family who walks through its doors.”

Along with its Children’s Medical Center locations in Dallas and Plano and Our Children’s House specialty hospital, Children’s Health also serves North Texas children at 18 specialty centers and through partnerships with UT Southwestern, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and others. The organization also collaborates with 100 local schools to provide care through mobile units sent for onsite visits and its innovative telehealth initiatives.

Since working together with Extra Life, Muñoz said she’s been impressed by how passionate the SMU Guildhall students are about playing video games for a cause.

“We’ve worked closely with Extra Life and SMU Guildhall for some time now. The fact that the decision to fundraise was student-driven is telling,” Muñoz said. “Philanthropic skills are something we learn along the way. It’s not typically something you can teach. These students are learning about philanthropy from one another, which is inspiring.”

To learn more about attending OP Live Dallas visit http://www.OPLiveDallas.com/. For information on sponsorship opportunities (digital, event app, brand activations, signage, event/activity/workshop sponsor, broadcasting rights, food truck zone and more) or securing exhibitor space, contact Ward Eastman, eGency Global Director, Strategic Alliances at 214-957-7870 or weastman@egencyglobal.com.

 

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Headed Home at Last: After Heart Transplant, Infant Daughter of Dallas ISD Trustee Leaves Hospital for First Time

June 20, 2018 - Dallas Morning News

Jacqueline Nortman scrunches down in the cozy swivel rocker in daughter Olivia’s bedroom and takes a deep, soothing breath, her baby cradled in her arms.

“It’s just so sweet to see her smile, when she’s snuggled up next to you, that’s how it should be,” Nortman says.

Born with a critical congenital heart defect, 4-month-old Olivia has been in peril pretty much since birth. But four weeks ago, a donor heart — Olivia’s last hope — became available. The heart transplant, performed at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, was successful.

And now, Olivia is here, swaying in the same chair she was rocked in while still in the womb.

Here, in the freshly painted room that was supposed to be gray but turned out lilac, where her father — Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD trustee and president of the Latino Center for Leadership Development  — hung a golden crown over her crib and four cloud-shaped shelves on the wall.

Here, with her mom and dad and grandmothers Lolly and Lita.

On Tuesday, Olivia went home.

"I honestly didn't know if we'd ever get here," Nortman said.

Learning the routine

Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis unbuckled his daughter Olivia Solis as wife Jacqueline Nortman prepared baby food in the kitchen at their home in Dallas on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  (Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)

For first-time parents, bringing a baby home is stressful.

But for Solis and Nortman, it’s even more so.

Leaving the safety net of Children’s with a medically fragile child is tough.

Solis flipped through a three-page document showing all of Olivia’s medicines, which need to be given, on schedule, six times throughout the day. The biggest risk for Olivia moving forward is the chance that her body rejects her new heart. A steady stream of immunosuppressants is vital.

Olivia isn’t eating by mouth yet, so her food and medicine are delivered via a long, narrow NG tube that goes through her nose and down into her stomach.

Nortman had to deliver Olivia's first doses of medicine in the ride home from the hospital.

"This has been our home for four months, and we've had constant support from all the nurses, the doctors and the staff," Nortman said before leaving the hospital. "You sort of get used to that. The thought of going home, and doing it all ourselves, it's just a lot."

To help out, Solis’ mother, Sherrlyn, will spend the next year living with the young family. Nortman’s mom, Aurora, will continue to make the five-hour trips from Beaumont on a regular basis, too.

The only option

Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis and wife Jacqueline Nortman and their daughter Olivia Solis left an exam room after Olivia had her weight checked on the day when they left Children's Medical Center in Dallas on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  (Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)

There was a point in Olivia’s journey when it looked like the infant might be able to head home without a new heart.

Almost a month after doctors performed a high-risk valve replacement surgery in March, Olivia was a day away from leaving the cardiac ICU and starting a monthlong transition to home when disaster happened.

Solis was holding his daughter when she suddenly burst into tears.

Despite everyone’s best efforts to calm her, Olivia was unconsolable.

Then, Nortman and Solis noticed their daughter was starting to turn blue.

Olivia had gone into a systemic vascular resistance crisis, where her heart couldn’t pump against the clamping down of her blood vessels, perhaps constricted as she tried to make a bowel movement.

“We knew that if she couldn’t do something as simple as have a bowel movement with that heart, there’s no way she was going to be able to live on that heart,” Solis said. “And that’s when the doctors came in, and they were very, very straightforward: Her only chance at life was a heart transplant.”

Full of gratitude 

Olivia Solis sat in a car seat at Children's Medical Center in Dallas on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  (Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)

Even though Olivia’s recovery has been steady since the transplant, the crisis still unnerves Nortman, a pediatrician.

When her daughter cries, Nortman starts calculating whether it's normal, for something as simple as a wet diaper, or something else.

Both Solis and Nortman pointed to all the support they’ve received  — from the medical providers to family, friends to well-wishers — that helped Olivia pull through.

Solis said that when his "tank is empty," he thinks about Olivia's donor and the gift given to his family.

“When I’m like: ‘I don’t want to get up. Uh, what’s going on?’ I get to get up and and change a diaper," he said. "I get to get up and start her feeds. I get to get up and give her medicine. And then there’s a family out there that doesn’t get to do that, and gave us the gift to be able to do it.”

In an effort to give back, the couple, with the help of graphic designer Skyler Thiot, has written a children’s book telling their story. All the proceeds from Olivia's New Heart — which can be pre-ordered at oliviasbook.com and is expected to be shipped in July — will be donated to the Heart Center at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

Before she left the hospital Tuesday, Nortman went by the cardiac ICU to deliver red balloons with their family’s phrase — #LivStrong — written on them.

“Our journey has been really rough, and every other room is filled with a family that’s going through ... something similarly hard,” Nortman said. “There are days when it’s hard to even get up and brush your teeth and change your clothes for the day. So, if we can give people a smile, with a little gift or surprise, words of encouragement or just some sign that you’re not alone in this ... it’s worth it.”

Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis left the Heart Center Clinic with daughter Olivia Solis after she had her weight checked on the day they left Children's Medical Center in Dallas. (Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)

 

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Scientists Unravel DNA Code Behind Rare Neurologic Disease

June 19, 2018 - UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern scientists conducting one of the largest full DNA analyses of a rare disease have identified a gene mutation associated with a perplexing brain condition that blinds and paralyzes patients.

Scientists conducting one of the largest full DNA analyses of a rare disease have identified a gene mutation associated with a perplexing brain condition that blinds and paralyzes patients.

A UT Southwestern study that used genetic data from more than 1,200 participants may help scientists improve treatments of neuromyelitis optica (NMO). More broadly, the research demonstrates the potential of utilizing large DNA banks to better understand and treat other diseases that have not undergone full genetic sequencing.

“This outcome shows that doing in-depth research pays off, and more studies like this may be needed to find the problem behind other rare conditions,” said Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, an internationally recognized myelitis expert with UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. “By taking a rare disease and doing more than just reading every third or fourth page of genetic code, we have modeled NMO in a much more accurate way.”

NMO is a potentially fatal disease in which the immune system attacks cells in the optic nerve and spinal cord, leaving some patients blind and/or paralyzed. Patients can recover most of their function through medications and physical rehabilitation, though many are misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis and face a higher risk of relapse and permanent damage due to lack of proper therapy.

The study published in Nature Communications shows that a variation in a complement component gene was associated with an increased risk of developing NMO. The gene produces a protein that binds to antibodies and can damage whatever the antibody is attached to, usually harmful bacteria. But in the case of NMO, the antibodies stick to parts of the nervous system.

The identification of the genetic variation, combined with clinical trial data, may help scientists determine in advance which patients won’t benefit from standard treatment.

“This outcome shows that doing in-depth research pays off, and more studies like this may be needed to find the problem behind other rare conditions.”  Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, Director of UT Southwestern’s Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program

“Some patients go into remission and others don’t, yet we haven’t known why,” Dr. Greenberg said. “What we can do now is look at the DNA and determine if that has anything to do with why drugs are not working.”

The O’Donnell Brain Institute is one of only a few sites in the U.S. that specializes in treating NMO. It is also one of two centers in the country focused on transverse myelitis, including the acute flaccid myelitis that attracted national headlines in recent years after at least 200 children became paralyzed. Dr. Greenberg has led long-term efforts to collect biologic samples from myelitis patients in hopes of eventually developing treatments that better target these diseases.

NMO is among several thousand rare diseases that cumulatively affect 30 million Americans yet individually don’t involve large enough populations to attract widespread research efforts. As little as 0.3 percent of every 100,000 Americans have NMO – one of the most uncommon autoimmune diseases involving the brain and spinal cord.

Dr. Greenberg said the new study validates efforts to more closely analyze the genetics behind other rare diseases. He notes that the research clarifies previous findings about NMO’s genetic underpinnings, derived from studies that analyzed only a portion of the genome.

“To target a disease as rare as this, to put this much technology behind trying to understand the disease – it hasn’t been done before,” Dr. Greenberg said. “This study has given insights into this condition that aren’t just new but are distinctly different from other studies.”

Dr. Greenberg leads a network of myelitis programs, including the Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program at UT Southwestern and the Pediatric CONQUER Program at Children’s Medical Center. He is an Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics and Pediatrics, a Distinguished Teaching Professor, and a Cain Denius Scholar in Mobility Disorders.

Dr. Greenberg collaborated on the study with researchers from Harvard, MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Biogen Inc. Funding to support specimen collection was provided by UT Southwestern’s CONQUER Project, the Accelerated Cure Project and the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation for NMO. The study’s sequencing and genotyping was sponsored by Biogen. The work was also supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute.

 

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Take 5 Oil Change Raising Money for Children

June 09, 2018 - Texarkana Gazette

The Take 5 Oil Change in Texarkana is raising money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a national nonprofit dedicated to raising funds and awareness for about 170 children's hospitals.

The funds raised in Texarkana will go to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and the Children's Medical Center Foundation in Dallas.

Customers at Take 5 Oil Change are invited to donate $1 to $5 when paying for their services through June 30.

Take 5 Oil Change stores across the country are partnering with the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

"It is an absolute honor to partner with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals each year as we approach Father's Day," said Gabe Mendoza, president of Take 5 Oil Change. "We hope that this year, our customers are as enthusiastic about supporting such an incredible organization that dedicates an immense amount of time and resources to improving the lives and health of children. Take 5 is proud to make a difference and have our customers become involved in the experience as well."

So far this month, Take 5 has raised $300,000, with a goal of raising $500,000.

"Partnering with an organization that has been dedicated to helping children in each of the local communities it serves for 35 years is something that we take immense pride in," Mendoza said. "Knowing that our donations, including the funds raised through our customers, will be immediately invested back into our local children's hospitals to purchase life-saving medical equipment and care is why we continue to partner with this organization year after year."

For more information on Take 5, visit take5oilchange.com/cmn or call 855-MyTake5 (698-2535).

 

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Zebrafish Expose Tumor Pathway in Childhood Muscle Cancer

June 05, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Dr. Genevieve Kendall came to UT Southwestern because she wanted to work with zebrafish, which are an excellent model for studying childhood cancer. Because the young fish develop outside the mother’s body, it’s easy to insert human cancer-related genes into the fish genome, and drugs can be tested simply by adding them to the water.

A popular aquarium fish may hold answers to how tumors form in a childhood cancer.

Muscle precursor cells called myoblasts are formed during normal fetal development and mature to become the skeletal muscles of the body. Rarely, a genetic error in which pieces of two chromosomes fuse together occurs in a cell related to this process and triggers those cells to multiply and behave abnormally. A particularly aggressive form of the muscle cancer rhabdomyosarcoma results.

The fused genes create an abnormal protein called PAX3-FOXO1, which blocks the normal maturation of muscle cells by inappropriately turning hundreds if not thousands of genes on and off. The exact mechanism by which PAX3-FOXO1 does this is not known.

Cancer researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center developed a zebrafish model for the childhood cancer. To do this, Dr. James Amatruda’s lab inserted the human PAX3-FOXO1 gene into the DNA of zebrafish. Using this new transgenic zebrafish, the researchers showed that the fused-gene DNA causes rhabdomyosarcoma that is similar to the human disease. They found it does this by turning on another gene, HES3, which leads to overproduction of the skeletal muscle precursor cells and allows for PAX3-FOXO1+ cells to survive during development instead of dying. 

“There is a lot of interest in understanding the PAX3-FOXO1 block and in identifying treatments that overcome this block,” said Dr. Amatruda, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Molecular Biology. “Such treatments could potentially cause the tumor to ‘mature’ and slow its growth without exposing the patient’s normal tissue to the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.”

Efforts to directly counter the effects of PAX3-FOXO1 have been unsuccessful, so the HES3 gene provides a potential back door for targeted treatment for this cancer.

Current treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Finding a drug that specifically targets part of the pathway initiated by the PAX3-FOXO1 gene fusion could improve survival rates as well as make treatments more tolerable for young patients.  

The zebrafish model of rhabdomyosarcoma the researchers developed is particularly useful because few other options are available. “Gene fusions that function as transcription factors are notoriously difficult to model in animals, hence the limited availability of vertebrate animal models for this disease. Zebrafish are powerful models because their use provides insight into how cancer genes function during development and the fish are a platform for drug discovery efforts,” said Dr. Genevieve Kendall, postdoctoral researcher and first author on the study.

The long-term goal of their work is to identify potential drugs for the most aggressive type of rhabdomyosarcoma tumor and to test these treatments in the zebrafish model. The new findings open the possibility of finding drugs that block HES3 or its downstream targets as a therapy for this cancer.

Researchers (from left) Lin Xu, Genevieve Kendall, Collette LaVigne, and James Amatruda used zebrafish, which are surprisingly similar to humans in anatomy, physiology, and cancer susceptibility, to study the childhood cancer rhabdomyosarcoma.

The research appears in the journal eLife.

Dr. Amatruda is a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Horchow Family Scholar in Pediatrics, and holds the Nearburg Family Professorship in Pediatric Oncology Research at UT Southwestern, which is recognizing its 75th year in 2018.

Other UT Southwestern staff and faculty members who contributed to this work include Whitney Murchison and Collette LaVigne, technicians in the Amatruda lab; Dr. Lin Xu, Instructor in Pediatrics and the Department of Clinical Sciences; Dr. Dinesh Rakheja, Associate Professor of Pathology and Pediatrics, and with the Simmons Cancer Center; and Dr. Stephen Skapek, Professor of Pediatrics and with the Simmons Cancer Center. Dr. Skapek holds the Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research and Dr. Rakheja holds the John Lawrence and Patsy Louise Goforth Chair in Pathology.

Funding for this research comes from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, La Ligue National Contre le Cancer, a Young Investigator grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a Hartwell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a QuadW Foundation-AACR Fellowship for Clinical/Translational Sarcoma Research; the Institut Curie; and Curing Kids Cancer.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of 49 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S. and the only one in North Texas, is among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site.

 

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A Sweet Sold-Out Success!

May 30, 2018 - Children's Cancer Fund

Children’s Cancer Fund Raises $1.2 Million at “Sweet 30th Anniversary Gala”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback greats Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo and Dak Prescott, along with other celebrities, lit up the runway with 22 children, raising funds to cure pediatric cancer

Over 1,200 guests, including 85 pediatric cancer patients, survivors and their families, celebrities, sponsors, and supporters, filled the first floor of the Hyatt Regency Dallas, transformed into a colorful, candy-themed wonderland, on Friday, April 27, for the most successful Children’s Cancer Fund Gala on record. The sold-out 30th annual fundraising gala raised more than $1.2 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern – surpassing fundraising goals for the second year in a row.

Longtime Honorary Co-Chair Roger Staubach, who has been involved all 30 years, began the event with a special announcement.

“This is the first year in this event’s 30-year history that Children’s Cancer Fund has not lost a child who has participated in this event,” said Roger Staubach. “For the first year, an in-memoriam video will not be shown at the gala. It chokes me up just to say that. Pediatric cancer research is making a difference.”

Staubach’s Co-Chair Troy Aikman followed Staubach to the podium sharing his passion for Children’s Cancer Fund as well as the impact of the nonprofit’s fundraising.

“Thanks to the generous support of people like you, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated more than $8 million to support pediatric cancer research in the Dallas area,” said Troy Aikman. “This is something you can be a part of – curing childhood cancer and helping make treatment safer, more effective, and less painful. When Roger invited me to this event 21 years ago, I was blown away. As long as they keep inviting me back, I will be here. A lot of money is being raised for pediatric cancer.”

Gala Co-Chair Hollie Siglin then shared her personal story of her dad collapsing and being hospitalized the morning of the gala. He was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma a few weeks after Siglin agreed to co-chair the event.

“I almost did not come tonight, but this cause is important so I left my dad’s side to be here and tell you why we need raise money to cure cancer,” said Hollie Siglin.

Siglin’s best friend and Co-Chair Candice Romo took the mic and told the audience that thinking about these children and what they and their families are going through makes her angry.

“I have three boys of my own, and I can’t imagine having to go through all of this,” added Romo. “We must take a stand against this awful disease and invest in cutting edge research to cure kids’ cancer. So tonight, get out your wallets, go big, and make it rain! We are here to cure children’s cancer!”

In addition to Staubach and Aikman, the 30th Annual Fashion Show presented an all-star lineup of celebrities including Dallas Cowboys Starting Quarterback Dak Prescott, who returned to the runway this year along with Cowboys Cornerback Byron Jones.

“I would not miss this night, and I look forward to participating for years to come,” said Dak Prescott. “This event is about hope and beating cancer.”

Twenty-two children ages 5 to 15, matched with celebrity escorts, lit up the runway in their fashions provided by Dillard’s for a star-studded fashion show, coordinated by RSC Show Productions. Backstage was a flurry of activity of kids, clowns, magicians, and fun and autographs with celebrities along with primping for the show with makeup, nails, and hairstyles by longtime Children’s Cancer Fund supporters Salon Pompeo.

Additional celebrity escorts included Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders; Former Dallas Maverick and current Indiana Pacer Monta Ellis, his wife Juanika, and their daughter Myla Ellis; Medieval Times Red Knight; KISS FM Crew; Miss Texas Margana Wood; Scott Murray; John Basham, CCF Alum whose family is one of the founding families of CCF and who walked in the very first fashion show; Garry Brown, producer of “Marvels Agents of Shield” and Melissa Brown, actress and stunt artist; Dallas SWAT Team; Dallas Fire Station #19; Belle of Beauty and the Beast; Batman; ESPN Commentator Victoria Arlen, para-Olympic swimmer; Mike Crum, skateboarding legend; CCF Alum Russell McKeown; Pink Heals Firefighters; Candice and Tony Romo; Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas Soccer Player; Amy Vanderoef, social media influencer and TV host.

Attendees also included Millie and Ken Cooper, Brent Christopher, Yvonne Crum, Diane and Nick DiGiuseppe, Jamie and Melbourne O’Banion, Stan Richards and Carol Murphy, Ashley and Jerad Romo, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Lori and Matthew Trent, Kim Schlegel Whitman and Justin Whitman.

Emcee Karen Borta of CBS 11 kept the evening on track introducing the young models and special guests as they hit the runway. Throughout the evening, entertainment was provided by the Ray Johnston Band and concluded with dancing and music provided by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra and special Guest DJ Tony Romo.

The live auction included a personal Quarterback Camp with Tony Romo at his home; National Fantasy Football Convention opportunity; a Sam Smith Concert Suite; a Custom Bicycle by Villy Custom; an opportunity to drive a new Sewell vehicle every 3 months; a Hawaiian Vacation; a Dallas Cowboys Experience; a Dallas SWAT Experience; a Mahindra ATV; a vest by Oscar de la Renta; and a Matthew Trent charm. NorthPark Center provided the raffle item, $500 in NorthPark Gold and valet parking for a year.

Sponsors included: $50,000: Anne Davidson; Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health; Tiffany and Mark Cuban; Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $20,000: Anonymous; $10,000: Troy Aikman; Albertsons-Tom Thumb; Andy Beal; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies; Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Barbara Lipshy; Mint Dentistry; Sewell Automotive; $5,000: Lindy and Brad Berkley; Kenneth Cooper; Dirk Nowitzki Foundation; Stacey and Kenny Doré; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP; Hawk+Sloane; The McCullough Foundation; Pacific Union Financial LLC; Holly and Barry Pennett; The Prather Family; and Simple Automotive.

In-Kind Sponsors: American Airlines; Dillard’s; Gro Event Design; Hyatt Regency Dallas; Katy Sky Group; Kendra Scott; National Fantasy Football Convention; NorthPark Center; OBOY! Productions; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Primera Companies; Reunion Tower; RSC Show Productions; Rsoul Royal Studios; Sugarfina; and Matthew Trent.

The media sponsors were CBS11/TXA21, CultureMap Dallas, and Good Life Family Magazine.

Proceeds from the Gala go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern. Visit www.childrenscancerfund.com.


Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF), founded in 1982, champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. Since its inception, CCF has awarded almost $8 million in grants, and the organization received the 2014 Outstanding Foundation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The group seeks to partially relieve the burden of obtaining and administering funds for pediatric cancer research and treatment at Children’s Health and for selected research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, both nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer. The Children’s Cancer Fund office is located at 10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 463, Dallas, TX 75231 For more information, please contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450, (fax) 972-664-1425 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com.

 

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Children’s Cancer Fund 30th Annual Gala

May 28, 2018 - Park Cities People

Over 1,200 guests, including 85 pediatric cancer patients, survivors and their families, celebrities, sponsors, and supporters, filled the first floor of the Hyatt Regency Dallas, transformed into a colorful, candy-themed wonderland, on April 27, for the most successful Children’s Cancer Fund Gala on record. The sold-out 30th annual fundraising gala raised more than $1.2 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern – surpassing fundraising goals for the second year in a row.

Longtime Honorary Co-Chair Roger Staubach, who has been involved all 30 years, began the event with a special announcement.

“This is the first year in this event’s 30-year history that Children’s Cancer Fund has not lost a child who has participated in this event,” said Roger Staubach. “For the first year, an in-memoriam video will not be shown at the gala. It chokes me up just to say that. Pediatric cancer research is making a difference.”

Staubach’s Co-Chair Troy Aikman followed Staubach to the podium sharing his passion for Children’s Cancer Fund as well as the impact of the nonprofit’s fundraising.


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“Thanks to the generous support of people like you, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated more than $8 million to support pediatric cancer research in the Dallas area,” said Troy Aikman. “This is something you can be a part of – curing childhood cancer and helping make treatment safer, more effective, and less painful. When Roger invited me to this event 21 years ago, I was blown away. As long as they keep inviting me back, I will be here. A lot of money is being raised for pediatric cancer.”

Gala Co-Chair Hollie Siglin then shared her personal story of her dad collapsing and being hospitalized the morning of the gala. He was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma a few weeks after Siglin agreed to co-chair the event.

“I almost did not come tonight, but this cause is important so I left my dad’s side to be here and tell you why we need raise money to cure cancer,” said Hollie Siglin.

Siglin’s best friend and Co-Chair Candice Romo took the mic and told the audience that thinking about these children and what they and their families are going through makes her angry.

“I have three boys of my own, and I can’t imagine having to go through all of this,” added Romo. “We must take a stand against this awful disease and invest in cutting edge research to cure kids’ cancer. So tonight, get out your wallets, go big, and make it rain! We are here to cure children’s cancer!”

In addition to Staubach and Aikman, the 30th Annual Fashion Show presented an all-star lineup of celebrities including Dallas Cowboys Starting Quarterback Dak Prescott returned to the runway this year along with Cowboys Cornerback Byron Jones.

“I would not miss this night, and I look forward to participating for years to come,” said Dak Prescott. “This event is about hope and beating cancer.”

Twenty-two children ages 5 to 15, matched with celebrity escorts, lit up the runway in their fashions provided by Dillard’s for a star-studded fashion show, coordinated by RSC Show Productions. Backstage was a flurry of activity of kids, clowns, magicians, and fun and autographs with celebrities along with primping for the show with, makeup, nails, and hairstyles by longtime Children’s Cancer Fund supporters Salon Pompeo.

 

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More Than 200 Lunched In NorthPark’s Neiman Marcus Courtyard To “Dec My Room”

May 24, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

Kim Basinger, Jamie Singer, Karen Michlewicz, Andrea Weber and Andrea Nayfa

The weather was tailor-made for an outdoor lunch on Wednesday, April 18, and Room To Grow Co-Chairs Kim Bannister, Jamie Sanger and Andrea Weber along with NorthPark Co-Chairs Kristen Gibbins and Andrea Nayfatook full advantage of it. Among the sculptures in the shaded Neiman Marcus Courtyard at NorthPark Center, the ladies were joined by more than 200 of their pals to hear Kim Schlegel Whitman chat with Harper’s Bazaar‘s Avril Graham on what trends lay ahead. Here’s a report from the field:

Co-Chairs Kim Bannister, Jamie Singer and Andrea Weber, with NorthPark Center Co-Chairs Andrea Nayfa and Kristen Gibbins, were joined by more than 220 attendees at the second annual Room to Grow Luncheon and Fashion Presentation on Wednesday, April 18, at 11:00 a.m. at NorthPark Center in the Neiman Marcus Courtyard. Proceeds from the event benefited Dec My Room, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of children who are hospitalized for a prolonged period of time.

Kristen Gibbins and Andrea Nayfa

Guests arrived and mingled as they sipped wine and enjoyed signature sweets from Sugarfina.  Partygoers began bidding on an exclusive silent auction item for a 3-night La Petite stay at the award-winning Cal-A-Vie Health Spa, or purchased raffle tickets for a chance to win one of 15 fabulous prizes, including $200 in NorthPark Gold and a gold VIP valet card courtesy of NorthPark Center, a pink Valentino rockstud quilted leather wallet/bag on chain donated by Neiman Marcus, a 3-night San Diego weekend at Monarch Beach Resort & The Pendry, two tickets for Kenny Chesney’s May 19 concert at AT&T Stadium, a four-course dinner for eight in your home created by Parigi Chef and owner Janice Provost and more.

At the appointed time, attendees like Jennifer Swift, Holly Davis, Lisa Ogle, Cindy Stager, Melissa Sherrill, Kathryn Henry, Daniella Giglioand Jessica Baldwintook their places as the luncheon co-chairs briefly welcomed all and thanked them for their support of the Room to Grow Luncheon benefiting Dec My Room. They also recognized this year’s sponsors, host committee members and generous in-kind donors. Patrons then enjoyed lunch of chicken Marbella with stone fruit relish served with tender bibb lettuce, arugula, frisee with hearts of palm and cucumber drizzled with lemon Dijon vinaigrette, and a gazpacho shooter.

Dec My Room’s Dallas Director Karen Michlewicz took the podium and welcomed Dec My Room’s Founder and CEO Susan Plankin from Houston, before adding her gratitude to sponsors, attendees, event co-chairs, NorthPark Center and Neiman Marcus NorthPark. She also shared the important services that Dec My Room provides in partnership with Children’s Health by helping “to create a healing place” for children who are being admitted into a hospital for a prolonged amount of time.

Jennifer Swift, Holly Davis, Andrea Weber and Lisa Ogle

Diane McGinnis, LCSW and social worker in the center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health, then accepted the 2018 Celebrate Flight award on behalf of all of the social workers that provide such critical support to the patients and their families for the duration of their care. The hospital social workers also introduce the mission of Dec My Room to patient families and as well, have the opportunity to see first-hand how Dec My Room transforms patient’s rooms and subsequently their overall mental approach to their upcoming treatments.

On behalf of her colleagues, Diane shared a few memorable installations, including one for an 8-year-old girl, whose room was transformed by volunteers into an underwater fantasyland of mermaids. A highlight was the mermaid slip-on sack that the little girl wore until she left the hospital. Or the magical moment when a volunteer decorated a 17-year-old boy’s room with aviation-themed posters and camo colors, because he dreamed of becoming a pilot in the armed forces. Diane commented that the patient’s parents often say they haven’t seen their child this happy or excited since their diagnosis, and that they feel so special that strangers make such an extraordinary effort to personalize a room just for them.

Cindy Stager, Melissa Sherrill and Kathryn Henry

Then it was time to talk fashion as Harper’s Bazaar Executive Fashion and Beauty Editor Avril Graham and Southern Living Editor-at-Large and NorthPark Ambassador Kimberly Schlegel Whitman took the stage to dish about the upcoming royal wedding, which Avril will be covering, and the season’s “must have” clothing, accessories and makeup from Neiman Marcus. Models sported the latest trends featuring brights, statement sleeves, floral dresses, stripes, logo bags, rainbow jewelry, the pointed-toe shoe, soft-tint lenses and sparkle and glitter glam lips and lids.

After an announcement of the lucky raffle winners, posh patrons progressed to the second level of Neiman Marcus for desserts and champagne. As a thank you, each guest was gifted take-home treats from Sugarfina, the newest issue of Harper’s Bazaar and a swag bag filled with goodies from Cos Bar, SoulCycle, Crown Control Jewelry, Outdoor Voices, drybar, MiniLuxe, Sawyer Collection and more.

 

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HHMI Bets Big on 19 New Investigators

May 23, 2018 - Howard Hughes Medical Institute

HHMI invests $200 million in a small cadre of leading scientists, challenging them to push the limits of what we know about biology.

Beth Shapiro has dug for prehistoric bones in Siberia. Ralph DeBerardinis has improved the lives of kids with metabolic diseases. Jesse Bloom has uncovered genetic secrets that could help fight the flu.

Shapiro, DeBerardinis, and Bloom are among 19 scientists whose work is dramatically advancing our understanding of cells, the brain, metabolism, and more. Today, these scientists all share a new title: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.

On May 23, 2018, HHMI announced that it will invest $200 million in this new cadre of investigators, a group of individuals known for pushing the boundaries of biomedical research. "We selected these scientists because they know how to ask hard and interesting questions with skill and intellectual courage," says David Clapham, HHMI's vice president and chief scientific officer. "We believe they have the potential to make breakthroughs over time."

Each of the 19 new investigators will receive roughly $8 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a scientific review. In addition, investigator support includes a guaranteed two-year transition period. This new group of investigators is the first to be appointed to a seven-year term (previous terms lasted five years). HHMI selected the new investigators from a pool of 675 eligible applicants. The scientists represent 15 U.S. institutions and will join an investigator community that now numbers over 300.

"Every scientist is unique, but they all need one thing: time," says HHMI President Erin O'Shea. "HHMI is dedicated to providing outstanding biomedical scientists with the time and resources to do their best work. We think of this as investing in people, not just projects."

To date, 28 current or former HHMI scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Investigators have made big leaps forward in HIV vaccine development, microbiome and circadian rhythm research, immunotherapy, and the genome editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas9, among other fields.

2018 HHMI Investigators

Thomas Bernhardt, PhD 
Harvard Medical School

Jesse Bloom, PhD 
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Edward Boyden, PhD 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Clifford Brangwynne, PhD 
Princeton University

Howard Chang, MD, PhD 
Stanford University

Ralph DeBerardinis, MD, PhD 
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Benjamin Ebert, MD, PhD 
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Zachary Knight, PhD 
University of California, San Francisco

Stephen Liberles, PhD 
Harvard Medical School

Zachary Lippman, PhD 
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Gaby Maimon, PhD 
The Rockefeller University

Luciano Marraffini, PhD 
The Rockefeller University

Samara Reck-Peterson, PhD 
University of California, San Diego

Elizabeth Sattely, PhD 
Stanford University

Beth Shapiro, DPhil 
University of California, Santa Cruz

Beth Stevens, PhD 
Boston Children's Hospital

Gia Voeltz, PhD 
University of Colorado Boulder

Meng Wang, PhD 
Baylor College of Medicine

Feng Zhang, PhD 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

###

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays an important role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. HHMI's headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

 

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Texas Awards Millions for Community Mental Health

May 23, 2018 - State of Reform

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is awarding up to $15 million in grant funds to 31 governmental entities and nonprofit organizations located across the state to provide mental health services to communities.

In 2017, Rep. Four Price’s House Bill 13 established HHSC’s Community Mental Health Grant Program and provides $30 million in state funds over the 2018-19 biennium to be matched by grantees with local and private funds.

“The Texas Legislature passed several bills, including H.B. 13, designed to improve the delivery of mental health services statewide. I am pleased by HHSC’s diligent work to implement H.B. 13 and expect better outcomes across Texas because of it,” stated Rep. Price.

Grants will fund community programs to expand treatment, promote recovery and improve quality of life for individuals with mental illness. Examples of expanded treatment and services include supported housing, coordinated jail release, behavioral health services in schools and peer support services.

Grant funding was awarded through an application process, which required a project proposal. Grant awardees are required to match a portion of the state’s grant award to demonstrate their commitment to addressing the mental health needs of individuals living in their communities.

The following organizations have been selected to receive funding for the grant program and will begin providing services in the proposed counties listed pending execution of contracts:

  • Amistad Community Health Center – Nueces County
  • Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas – Jefferson County
  • Boys and Girls Club of Pharr – Hidalgo County
  • Children’s Medical Center Dallas – Dallas County
  • Collin County – Collin County
  • Communities In Schools Houston – Harris County
  • Communities In Schools North Texas – Denton County
  • Community Hope Projects, Inc. – Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties
  • CommUnity Care – Travis County
  • Covenant Health System Foundation – Lubbock County
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation – Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise counties
  • Depelchin Children’s Center – Harris County
  • Ecumenical Center – Aransas, Atascosa, Bandera, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brooks, Cameron, Comal, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kenedy, Kerr, Kleberg, Kimble, Live Oak, Llano, Mason, Medina, Nueces, Real, San Patricio, Starr, Uvalde, Val Verde, Wilson, Willacy, Webb and Zapata counties
  • Family Support Services of Amarillo – Potter and Randall counties
  • Foundation Communities – Travis County
  • Gregg County – Gregg County
  • Harris County – Harris County
  • Hope Fort Bend Clubhouse – Fort Bend County
  • Joven – Bexar County
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness – Bell, Bexar, Denton, El Paso, Jones, Nueces, Smith, Tarrant, Taylor, Travis counties
  • NEWCO – Cooke, Fannin and Grayson counties
  • Project Vida Health Center – El Paso County
  • SAMMinistries – Bexar County
  • San Antonio Clubhouse – Bexar County
  • Texas Tech University Health Science Center – Armstrong, Carson, Deaf Smith, Hutchison, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Randall and Swisher counties
  • The Women’s Home – Harris County
  • United Way Amarillo Canyon – Dallam, Potter and Randall counties
  • United Way Denton County – Denton County
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Cameron and Hidalgo counties
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center – Dallas County
  • West Texas A&M University – Randall County

Funds are being awarded as part of the second phase of HHSC’s Community Mental Health Grant Program. HHSC announced awards for the first phase in January 2018.

This press release was provided by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

 

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DeBerardinis Named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

May 23, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis

Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), today became the University’s newest Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.

Dr. DeBerardinis is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern and an attending physician at Children’s Health. He is also a Professor of Pediatrics and member of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development at UT Southwestern. His selection makes him one of a select group of 19 distinguished biomedical scientists named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators this year and brings to 15 the number at UT Southwestern, which leads the state in HHMI investigators. HHMI is a philanthropic organization created to advance basic biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity.

Each of the 19 new investigators will receive roughly $8 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a scientific review.

“We are delighted that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has recognized the significance of Dr. DeBerardinis’ research accomplishments and his promise to make important advances in the future. His efforts have already led to important new insights into distinctive alterations in the metabolic pathways in cancer cells,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.

“We are confident that his laboratory will build on this foundation with the opportunity it offers to establish new paradigms for therapeutic strategies,” added Dr. Podolsky, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Notably, the DeBerardinis laboratory found that lactate provides fuel for growing lung tumors, a finding that challenges a nearly century-old observation known as the Warburg effect, which had called lactate a waste product of tumor metabolism. Dr. DeBerardinis’ finding provides a novel perspective on cancer metabolism and opens new avenues for the study of potential therapeutics, as well as new imaging techniques in lung cancer, the world’s leading cause of cancer deaths.

Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the CRI, a Professor of Pediatrics, and an HHMI Investigator, said, “Ralph is an outstanding scientist and a leader in the areas of cancer metabolism and the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism in children. I’m not surprised that HHMI selected him as one of the very best scientists in the country. CRI will continue to build around his work as we search for new treatments for cancer and inborn errors of metabolism.” Dr. Morrison is a CPRIT Scholar and holder of the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at CRI and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics at UT Southwestern.

“My lab and I are so grateful to be recognized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We’re delighted that HHMI appreciates our research in human metabolic diseases. I am also grateful to Dr. Sean Morrison for recruiting me to CRI and creating a culture that cultivates doing risky, cutting-edge research,” said Dr. DeBerardinis, who holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics and is a Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research and the Robert L. Moody, Sr. Faculty Scholar. “The CRI and UT Southwestern are outstanding environments for collaborative research. My work would not be possible without a large team of collaborators, including Dr. Kemp KernstineDr. Craig Malloy, and Dr. John Minna of UT Southwestern. Their contributions and insights over many years have enabled our discoveries.”

Dr. Kernstine, Professor and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, holds the Robert Tucker Hayes Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery; Dr. Malloy, Professor and Medical Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center, holds the Richard A. Lange, M.D. Chair in Cardiology; Dr. Minna, Director of the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, holds the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology, and the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research.

Dr. DeBerardinis earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and was the first trainee in the combined Pediatrics and Medical Genetics residency program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he received several awards for teaching and clinical care. He completed his postdoctoral research in Dr. Craig Thompson’s laboratory in the Penn Cancer Center and joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2008. Dr. DeBerardinis joined CRI soon after its founding in 2012 and became Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program in 2014. 

Other HHMI Investigators at UT Southwestern:

  • Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen, Director of the Center for Inflammation Research, Professor of Molecular Biology and in the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, who holds the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
  • Dr. Nick Grishin, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Biomedical Research, who holds the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair in Biomedical Science.
  • Dr. Helen Hobbs, Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, who holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development, the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, and the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research.
  • Dr. Lora V. Hooper, Professor and Chairman of Immunology, Microbiology, and with the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, who holds the Jonathan W. Uhr, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Immunology and is a Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A. Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell.
  • Dr. Youxing Jiang, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.
  • Dr. Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research and Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, who holds the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science.
  • Dr. David Mangelsdorf, Professor and Chairman of Pharmacology and Professor of Biochemistry, who holds the Alfred G. Gilman Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology and the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Molecular Neuropharmacology in Honor of Harold B. Crasilneck, Ph.D.
  • Dr. Joshua Mendell, Professor of Molecular Biology and a CPRIT Scholar.
  • Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of CRI and Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, who holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics. Dr. Morrison is a CPRIT Scholar who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at CRI
  • Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, who holds the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science and is a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.
  • Dr. Duojia Pan, Professor and Chairman of Physiology, who holds the Fouad A. and Val Imm Bashour Distinguished Chair in Physiology.
  • Dr. Michael K. Rosen, Professor and Chairman of Biophysics and with the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology, who holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.
  • Dr. Joseph Takahashi, Professor and Chairman of Neuroscience, who holds the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.
  • Dr. Hongtao Yu, Professor of Pharmacology and a Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar in Medical Research, who holds The Serena S. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Cancer Immunopharmacology.
 

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Peters Awarded for Pediatric Urology Research Excellence

May 22, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Dr. Craig A. Peters, Chief of Pediatric Urology at UT Southwestern

Dr. Craig A. Peters, Professor of Urology and Chief of Pediatric Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, received the John W. Duckett, Jr., MD Pediatric Urology Research Excellence Award, which honors a physician-scientist or researcher for outstanding work in pediatric urology.

Dr. Peters investigates basic development and pathophysiology of the fetal urinary tract and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. His research is focused on urinary obstruction, vesicoureteral reflux, and bladder dysfunction, as well as quantitative imaging and robotics. Dr. Peters, who practices at Children’s Health, also has extensive experience developing minimally invasive surgical techniques, including robot-assisted procedures, and the treatment of pediatric urologic problems. He is currently serving as interim Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s Health.

The 2018 Research Awards of Distinction, presented by the Urology Care Foundation, the world’s leading nonprofit urological health foundation and the official foundation of the American Urological Association, recognize urologists, scientists, and educators who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to urology. In 2017, Dr. Peters’ work was recognized with the American Urological Association Presidential Citation Award. 

“Dr. Peters’ research efforts over his career, ranging from basic science to clinical investigations, as well as his countless contributions to organized urology and pediatric urology, have made the life of many children suffering from urological conditions better, and will continue to do so,” said Dr. Claus Roehrborn, Chair of Urology. “We are fortunate to have him in our community and on our campus to lead the Pediatric Urology Division.”

Dr. Peters completed his term on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Advisory Council and previously served as Chair of the American Urological Association Vesicoureteral Reflux Guidelines Committee, the NIDDK Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the RIVUR Trial of vesicoureteral reflux, and several pediatric urology research workshops for the National Institutes of. He recently served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Urological Association. He is also a member of the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons, the Society of Pediatric Urologic Surgeons, and the Society of Scholars at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Peters is on several editorial boards, is the pediatric editor of the Campbell-Walsh Urology textbook, and has published more than 175 original articles and over 100 chapters.

Dr. Peters was the John E. Cole Professor of Urology and Director of Pediatric Urology at the University of Virginia, where he continued his work in basic research and minimally invasive surgery, and subsequently was Chief of Surgical Innovation at Children’s National and an Investigator at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington, D.C. Dr. Peters received B.A. and M.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University and did his surgery and urology residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital at the Brady Urological Institute, a Pediatric Urology Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a research fellowship at Children’s and Harvard.

Dr. Roehrborn holds the E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Distinguished Chair in Urology and the S.T. Harris Family Chair in Medical Science, in Honor of John D. McConnell, M.D.

 

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Literacy Achieves Honored Jennifer Staubach Gates With Marnie Wildenthal Award At Wings Of Spring

May 21, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

John Gates, Jessica Whitsitt and Jordan Gates

Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher had had a rough weekend, thanks to Mother Nature. On Friday, April 20, he was on the phone with Pete Delkus and organizers of the Red Balloon Ride and Run scheduled for the next day. Due to a monsoon that had been forecast, the decision was made to cancel the event. Now, on Monday, April, 23 he strolled into the courtyard of Temple Emanu-El for the Literacy Achieve’s Wings of Spring fundraiser. It was an absolutely perfect evening, with no wind, no rain and no sizzling temperatures.

s Brent joined the lineup for the buffet dinner, Marianne and Roger Staubach were seated at a table with their granddaughters Jordan Gates and Jessica Whitsitt, son-in-law John Gates and their daughter, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who was being honored with the Marnie Wildenthal Award. For the Staubach clan, it was a double celebration. In addition to Jennifer’s receiving the award, it was also Marianne’s birthday.

At another table nearby were Marnie and Kern Wildenthal with Shirley and Bob Miller. Marnie, who teaches at Literacy Achieves on Mondays and Tuesday, was soon joined by fellow teacher Doug Davies and his wife Gretchen Davies. Doug was wearing a bandaged brace on his left hand, due to a “sporting accident.” It seems that while walking their “flight risk” adoptive dog, Doug fell and injured his hand. Even so, he never let go of the leash.

Gretchen and Doug Davies and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal

On a healthier note, Marnie reported that her recent cataract surgeries had been very successful.

As for Shirley and Bob, he looked quite happy as his wheelchair rolled right up to the table for dinner.

Pretty soon, the group including Regina Montoya and Jamie Williams moved into Stern Chapel. There, Wings of Spring Co-Chairs Colleen and Rob Taylor stressed the importance of Literacy Achieves for countless non-English speaking people learning to communicate in North Texas. To provide an example, Norma Cruz, sitting with her family on the front row, stood up and addressed the group on how Literacy Achieves had helped her adapt to U.S. life since moving from Mexico in 2007.

Following Norma’s’s presentation, Literacy Achieves Executive Director Sarah Papertmade a surprise announcement. At least, it was a surprise to Jennifer: Marianne and Roger would present the Marnie Wildenthal award to their daughter. Accepting the honor, Jennifer said that Vickery Meadow—where Literacy Achieves has so much impact—is an important part of her city council district, just like Preston Hollow, and that she relies for help in Vickery Meadow on nonprofits like Literacy Achieves.

As Jennifer, her talk over, took her place in the audience with her family, a voice was heard from the back of the room. It was poet/musician Pablo Sainz Villegas, who slowly walked down the main aisle to the stage, where he was joined by bass player Pedro Giraudo and percussionist Nacho Arimany. For the next hour, Pablo took the audience for a romantic tour from South America to the United States and back using verse and music.

From bouncy bossa nova tunes to songs (“Maria”) from the musical “West Side Story” to a smoky tango, the group called the Pablo Sainz Villegas Americano Trio had the audience in the palm of their hands, many of the listeners swaying gently or nodding their heads in time. The performance displayed “my dream of unifying the Americas through music,” Pablo explained. Then, at the end, he addressed this to the Literacy Achieves supporters: “Thank you all for making a big difference in this world.”

 

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Jerseyville Foundation Donates $100,000 to Pediatric Cancer Research

May 18, 2018 - The Telegraph

The Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation in Memory of Jonny Wade donated $100,000 to the Precision Medicine Program in Childhood Cancer at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, continuing in its mission to conquer pediatric cancer.

The Precision Medicine Program in Childhood Cancer was recently launched by pediatric oncology physician researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in collaboration with Children’s Health. Under the direction of Dr. Theodore Laetsch, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and Director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at Children’s Health, this program harnesses the power of molecular genetics to identify genetic abnormalities driving an individual child’s cancer.

Dr. Laetsch and his team hope to use that genetic information to guide the use of new, individualized treatments for children. Although the program is still in its infancy, exciting examples already show the potential power of such targeted molecular therapy.

“By leveraging the clinical facilities at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern’s world-renowned research capabilities, we are perfectly positioned to identify new ways to deliver better cancer-fighting therapies to individual children,” said Dr. Stephen Skapek, Professor of Pediatrics and the Simmons Cancer Center, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research. “Generous philanthropic supporters like The Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation are helping to accelerate this promising and transformational work.”

Dr. Skapek is also the medical director of the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health.

“We are thrilled to donate to the Precision Medicine Program and take one step further toward finding a cure for pediatric cancer,” said founder Kimberly Wade. “This contribution is significant because it is aimed at finding a cure for the disease that took my sweet son, Jonny, from us. His selfless wish that no other child should have cancer was the inspiration for the foundation, and I feel that we are honoring him directly by helping to fund a program that is keenly focused on improving the treatment process for children with this terrible disease.”

The Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation has made incredible efforts to fulfill Jonny’s wish in a short time. The foundation has raised over $500,000 for pediatric cancer research in the two years the foundation has been in existence.

 

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Children’s Health Announces Grand Opening of New Specialty Center 2 in Plano

May 10, 2018

Innovative facility designed for growing number of families in North Texas, with leading pediatric experts, community providers, advanced technology and cutting-edge sports performance – all under one roof

Children’s Health℠ has announced the opening of Specialty Center 2 on its Plano campus. The 203,000-square-foot, four-story facility is the new home to the Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and Sports Performance powered by EXOS, as well as the state-of-the-art Live Oak Surgery Center, Imaging Center and physician clinics.

The innovative building features a variety of multidisciplinary services for the whole family—from sports rehabilitation, injury prevention, training and nutrition for youth athletes, to outpatient surgery, outpatient imaging and community provider clinics.

“We designed Specialty Center 2 for the families and physicians of North Texas—combining the region’s leading pediatric experts and community providers to make it easy for families to access the care they need in one convenient location,” said Jeremiah Radandt, executive vice president of the Northern Market for Children’s Health. “The facility we debuted today does that and more. Our goal is to become a community partner for the growing number of families living in or moving to North Texas by empowering them to become active drivers of their own health care.”

Specialty Center 2 offers a wide array of multidisciplinary services and state-of-the-art technology, including:

  • Imaging Center: Featuring Siemens Skyra 3 Tesla MRI, Fluoroscopy and EOS® X-Ray Imaging System, these imaging technologies provide the highest quality images, which allow for quicker diagnoses and more accurate treatment.
  • Live Oak Surgery Center: A defining feature of Specialty Center 2, this surgical center features state-of-the-art observation capabilities, which allow physicians and family members to check in on patients undergoing procedures inside the four operating rooms without entering the surgical area.

A striking feature of the new building is a 60-yard turf football field and running track, which attach to an indoor training area for the Children’s Health Andrews Institute and its performance training and injury prevention program, Sports Performance powered by EXOS. Originally opened in 2015 on the Children’s Health Plano campus, the Children’s Heath Andrews Institute is a destination for orthopedics and sports medicine for young athletes and the only institute of its kind in the region—offering world-class, pediatric-focused orthopedic and sports medicine care with research, education and injury prevention at its core. Developed under the direction of world-renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, M.D., it is also the first-ever pediatric program to team up with EXOS, an internationally known program that trains the world’s top athletes.

“As a former Division I collegiate athlete and now as an orthopedic surgeon, I cannot stress enough the importance of injury prevention, training and rehabilitation that is needed for youth athletes, especially in this North Texas region where youth sports are so popular,” said John Polousky, M.D., surgical director and chief of pediatric orthopaedics at Children’s Health Plano. “At our new location, we offer the latest advances in diagnostics, sports medicine, rehabilitation and sports performance in one building, allowing us to provide the full continuum of care to young athletes in North Texas.”

The new Children’s Health Andrews Institute location offers best-in-class sports performance and rehabilitation technology and equipment, including:

  • Physical Therapy: AlterG® Anti-Gravity treadmill, Harlequin dance floor, TRAZER computer-based simulation testing and training system, functional squat machine to help strengthen muscles, and HydroWorx® Pool and underwater treadmill for sports rehabilitation.
  • Sports Performance powered by EXOS®: Pneumatic weight training system, six-lane synthetic sprint track, inlaid Olympic lifting platform and a biomechanics lab.
  • More details about these technologies can be found on the facility’s website.

For more information about Specialty Center 2, visit the center’s website.

 

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UTSW Investigation Provides insight Into Potential New Strategy to Target Skin Diseases Like Psoriasis

May 04, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 7 million people in the U.S.

Research at UT Southwestern has shown that targeting metabolism in growing cells holds promise for the treatment of skin diseases like psoriasis that are characterized by skin overgrowth resulting from excess cell division, known as hyperproliferation.

A research team led by Dr. Richard Wang, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, demonstrated in mice that inhibiting glucose transport may be a safe and effective treatment for these diseases. Actively dividing cells, like those underlying psoriasis, are more dependent on glucose for their growth. By inhibiting glucose transport in those cells, disease-associated skin overgrowth and inflammation were reduced. Their findings were recently published in Nature Medicine.

“This study provides a window for the treatment of various diseases by specifically targeting the metabolic requirements of hyperproliferative skin diseases. It also broadens our understanding of changes in skin metabolism in response to physiological stressors,” Dr. Wang said.

Most psoriasis therapies inhibit the immune cells that underlie the disease. They have been limited somewhat by side effects caused by broadly targeting the immune system, he said.

The study results, if proved effective in humans, may lead to development of new treatments for those with incurable skin conditions like psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 7 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition manifests as patches of red skin with silvery scales typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of feet.

Recent studies have shown that people with psoriasis are at an increased risk for other inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease/hypertension, diabetes, Crohn’s syndrome, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and obesity.

This trickle-down threat resulted in the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing psoriasis under its umbrella of these four primary noncommunicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Affecting more than 125 million people worldwide, psoriasis has a direct causal linkage to several of these diseases. Although psoriasis alone rarely results in death, those with it run a greater risk of various co-occurring diseases – including diabetes and cardiovascular disease – that can be fatal.

Dr. Richard Wang

In the study, investigators successfully decreased skin overgrowth in mouse models of psoriasis-like disease by inactivating the transporter protein Glut1, either genetically or with drug-based inhibitors. These experiments did not compromise the skin’s development or functionality. Glucose transport in skin cells called keratinocytes takes place through Glut1.

Researchers also were able to decrease inflammation with topical application of a Glut1 inhibitor. This inhibitor also had a remarkable effect on psoriatic human skin grown in a dish, suppressing both inflammation and the expression of disease-associated genes.

“Although I would still consider our findings preliminary, they have the potential to provide novel therapeutic approaches for inflammatory and neoplastic skin diseases,” Dr. Wang said.

The UT Southwestern study included assistance from faculty and staff at the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research, the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), as well as the Departments of Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. Other faculty authors include Dr. Philipp Scherer, Director of the Touchstone Center and Professor of Internal Medicine and Cell Biology who holds the Gifford O. Touchstone, Jr. and Randolph G. Touchstone Distinguished Chair in Diabetes Research; Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Professor at the CRI, Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program, and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern, where he is a Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research and holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics; Dr. Travis Vandergriff, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pathology; and Dr. Gregory Hosler, clinical Associate Professor of Pathology. Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Thomas Jefferson University, and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine also contributed to the investigation.

This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute; The Welch Foundation; the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; and the American Cancer Society.

 

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Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks Help Fight Against Childhood Cancer

May 02, 2018 - WFAA

No position in sports is as visible as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and the QBs are using that visibility for a special cause.

Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks are a victorious group with multiple Super Bowl wins, division titles, and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions. However, one of their greatest victories came Friday, April 27 at the Children's Cancer Fund annual gala.

For the first time in the event's 30 years, dubbed the "Sweet 30th Anniversary," the gala did not have to play an in memoriam video. In short, none of the past or present honored survivors, called "models" at the event, succumbed to cancer.

"That means everything," current Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. "What that means is that shows faith. That shows hope and that shows where we're trying to go and we're trying to beat cancer."

Prescott was part of the celebrity escorts of 22 featured pediatric cancer patients who put on a fashion show every year. The five to 15-year-olds wore fashions from Dillard's with RSC Productions and coordination from the Katy Sky Group., ages

Roger Staubach, who led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins in the 1970s en route to the Hall of Fame, has been one of the co-chairs of the gala since its 1988 inception. In the late 1980s, leukemia and lymphoma were virtual death sentences for kids. Now, the tables have turned.

"Children's cancer, leukemia, the survival rate is probably up into the 80 percentile," Staubach said at a Children's Cancer Fund event in January. "Back when we first got started it was way down there. So, that's really encouraging. But Children's Medical Center, they just do a fantastic job over here and the Children's Cancer Fund."

Troy Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl champion, became a co-chair in 1997 at Staubach's request. His first gala, which were originally luncheons until 2016, blew away the Hall of Fame quarterback's expectations.

"I was blown away and I told them at that moment that if they ever wanted me to continue to be a part of it, I'd be happy to do it," Aikman said. "Fortunately for me, they've asked me every year and I keep coming back. Now, it's a dinner, but it's no less impactful and we honor these kids. It's really special, and of course, a lot of money being raised for pediatric cancer research. It's pretty cool."

Aikman called the lack of an in memoriam video a "huge milestone" in the event's history.

Said Aikman: "That means everything. I think that any of us who have children can empathize with those who have children who are inflicted with cancer and what that entails and the treatments and the heartbreak. And we've had too many heartbreaks at this event. We honor those kids. Tonight, the fact that we're not going to go through that is a huge milestone for us."

The 30th gala also saw the first time involvement of the Tony Romo family. The four-time Pro Bowler and his wife, Candice, couldn't find time during his playing career for the event due to off-season scheduling conflicts. Nonetheless, CCF Executive Director of Development Jennifer Arthur persisted and asked the Romos if they would be available. With Romo's retirement in 2017, Candice became a co-chair for the 30th gala while Tony was the event's "guest DJ."

For Candice, her extreme sympathy for the parents of the suffering pediatric oncology patients is why her heart beats for the event.

"I'm a mother of three young boys," said Candice. "So, to put myself into some of these parents' shoes who are having to get the news that it's cancer and go through these really harsh treatments, it just feels of course I'll be a part of this event. I could just as easily be on the other side of the situation."

Tony appreciates the effort his wife has put into the event over 2018.

"My wife has worked really hard for months on this," Tony said. "It's a great cause and feel fortunate to be here."

The great cause always brings out the "sweetest smiles" among the kids, according to Arthur.

Said Arthur: "They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles. This is a night they have looked forward to all year. The grand finale, which features CCF models from the past 30 years, is one of the most incredible moments of the evening."

Among the celebrity escorts was Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, who escorted Ewing sarcoma patient Jonathan Goldminz downt he runway. Jones enjoyed spending time backstage with Goldminz.

"He developed a plan," Jones said. "He wanted to be the best team walking down the runway, and that's exactly what we did. We did a nice little dance, went underneath the cheerleaders, and he caught a perfectly thrown fade route by me -- I'm not taking credit -- but it was a really great catch by him."

Since its 1982 inception, CCF has awarded nearly $8 million in grants as the group endeavors to partially relieve the burden of acquiring and administering funds for childhood cancer treatment at Children's Health and selected research at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

"It's not about when cancer defeats us because cancer doesn't always mean cancer defeats us," said Prescott. "But what it means is it's about us showing the research and showing the way that we're moving forward and showing the positivity through this nasty disease."

For more on the Cowboys, be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

 

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Books, Children and Philanthropy – How a Local Business Gives Back

April 30, 2018

Communities have coalesced around libraries for decades with a shared value of learning and a love for the written word. Add on a heart for children and a dedication to philanthropy, and you have a very special gathering that recently took place in the Krissi Holman Family Resource Library at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

Staff members came together to thank a local business that donated more than $70,000 to the library, specially made for pediatric patients.

The donation came from El Rio Grande Latin Market, a North Texas grocery chain that has donated more than $200,000 to Children’s Health since 2013. El Rio Grande has stores that cater to the Hispanic market in nine locations, including Dallas, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Garland, and Fort Worth. Their first store is less than a mile from the Children’s Medical Center Dallas campus.

Co-owner Hamdy Shalabi founded the business with his family in 2004. He said he wanted El Rio’s most recent donation to go to the library because it was such a source of relief when his own family members were patients at Children’s Health, including his son.

“This was the brightest part of his day,” Mr. Shalabi said gesturing toward the bookcases. Children’s Health cured the boy – and turned his father into a devoted supporter of the hospital.

“They took excellent care of him,” Mr. Shalabi said. “I really admire every single person that spoke with us today. They’re very attentive and subject-matter experts. They all know how to contribute for the patient.”

Mr. Shalabi attended the check presentation with family members, employees and an oversized gift box signed by customers who donated. Funds from the donation were raised by customers purchasing Children’s Miracle Network rubber wrist bands stamped in Spanish with the words, “Put your money where the miracles are.”

The El Rio Grande donation will be used to upgrade iPads, purchase Kindle tablets and update teaching software.

“We’re very grateful for this generous donation,” psychiatry school services case manager Talia Fayson told the group. “Believe me, it will go to good use.”

 

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Kathryne and Gene Bishop give $6 million to Children's Medical Center Research Institute

April 30, 2018 - Dallas Morning News

Longtime Children's Health supporters Kathryne and Gene Bishop have pledged about $6 million to the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The institute studies the intersection of cancer, stem cell applications and metabolism, said Children's Medical Center Foundation president Brent Christopher.

"This is where they think the biggest breakthroughs, the most scalable and widely applicable treatments are going to happen," he said. "These are world-class doctors doing extraordinary work."

The Bishops have supported Children's Health for more than 40 years, including endowing the director's chair at the research institute, held by Dr. Sean Morrison.

The foundation wants to raise $200 million for long-term funding of the institute, Christopher said.

 

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Kathryne And Gene Bishop Commit More Than $6 Million To Find Breakthroughs In Pediatric Medicine

April 30, 2018

Gift will provide vital support for Children’s Research Institute

Former board member of Children’s Health, Gene Bishop, and his wife, Kathy, have made a commitment of approximately $6 million to support the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI).

A previous gift from the couple to support the CRI endowed the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern. Dr. Sean Morrison, director of the CRI, holds that chair. Dr. Morrison is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and within the CRI, he is principal investigator of the Hamon Laboratory for Stem Cell and Cancer Biology. He is also a professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics.

CRI is home to an interdisciplinary group of over 85 scientists and physicians in seven laboratories who work at the interface of stem cell biology, cancer and metabolism. These fields offer uncommon potential for fundamental scientific discoveries and the development of new therapies. Launched in 2011, the joint venture between Children’s Health and UT Southwestern marries the superior clinical reputation of the eighth-largest pediatric health system in the country with the research powerhouse of UT Southwestern. When completely funded with a $200 million endowment, 15 research laboratories and some 150 scientists will be searching for new treatments for devastating childhood diseases.

Mr. and Mrs. Bishop have actively supported Children’s Health for more than 40 years.

 

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Here's What it Takes for Your Pet to Be a Therapy Animal

April 27, 2018 - Parade

Flora – Children’s Health (Dallas, TX): Flora is a four-year-old Golden Retriever. Trained to be a therapy dog before she turned two, she's been working with Children's Health in Dallas since 2016. Flora has had more than 3,100 patient encounters and more than 600 staff encounters. She spends dedicated time each week with eating disorder patients among other young patients.

When it comes to therapy animals, you’ve probably heard and seen it all. Just this past weekend I stopped in the Costco parking lot to pet an adorable French bulldog who was wearing a “therapy animal” vest.

“Is it OK if I pet your dog?” I asked. “I know you’re not supposed to pet working animals without permission.”

The man laughed and waved away my request. Then he whispered, “He’s not really a therapy dog. I just put this on so I can take him into the store with me.”

Of course, dog owners like this give legit therapy animals a bad name and make the American public that more skeptical about the role that therapy animals play in a person’s life. With Monday, April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day, I thought it would be a good time to explain exactly what therapy animals do to help people and what goes into getting an animal trained as one.

“Therapy animals have helped in the most devastating situations like after the Florida and Las Vegas shootings,” says Annie Peters, president and CEO of Pet Partners, a nonprofit that registers therapy dogs and other therapy animal pets. “They are the real MVPs when it comes to stressful situations and helping others who are grieving.”

Related: How therapy dogs helped students after the Parkland school shooting.

As far as real therapy animals go, you can’t just put a vest on your dog, cat or guinea pig and expect people to take you seriously. Therapy animals go through rigorous training to earn their title. The animal’s handler has to go through a training course, too, plus the animal itself must pass a health screening among other criteria.

Here are some of the point-by-point items that Pet Partners uses when evaluating an animal and/or handler:

 

Pet Partners therapy animals must meet the following criteria:

  • Are at least one year old at the time of evaluation or six months old for rabbits, guinea pigs and rats.
  • Have lived in the owner’s home for at least six months or one year for birds.
  • Must be reliably house-trained. Waste collection devices are not permitted, with the exception of flight suits for birds.
  • Be currently vaccinated against rabies. Rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and birds are exempt from this requirement. Titers are not accepted in lieu of vaccination.
  • May not be fed a raw meat diet.
  • Have no history of aggression or seriously injuring either people or other animals. This includes animals that have been trained to aggressively protect and/or have been encouraged to bite, even if it is a component of dog sport, such as Schutzhund.
  • Demonstrate good basic obedience skills. Animals walking with a lead should walk on a loose leash, and respond reliably to common commands such as sit, down, stay, come and leave it.
  • Welcome, not merely tolerate, interactions with strangers.
  • Be comfortable wearing Pet Partners acceptable equipment.

Successful handlers must be able to do the following:

  • Read their animal’s particular body language and recognize when their animal is stressed, anxious, concerned, overstimulated or fatigued.
  • Demonstrate positive interactions with their animal by praising, cueing, encouraging and reassuring the animal as needed.
  • Cue or redirect their animal without raising their voice, forcefully jerking on the leash or offering the animal food or toys.
  • Make casual conversation with those they meet on visits while still being attentive to their animal.
  • Guide the interactions of others with the animal in a professional and polite manner.
  • Advocate for the safety and well-being of their animal at all times.

FYI, it isn’t just dogs that can be therapy animals. Pet Partners register nine species for therapy animal work. They are:

  • dogs
  • cats
  • equines
  • rabbits
  • guinea pigs
  • llamas and alpacas
  • birds
  • miniature pigs
  • rats

The national accrediting body for therapy dogs is the American Kennel Club. The AKC website lists therapy training groups like Pet Partners as well as local therapy organizations, in case you want to get involved with your animal. Whatever you do, show some respect for therapy animals and don’t just put a vest on your dog so you can take it shopping with you.

Related: What is an emotional support animal?

Finally, one of the places that therapy animals do some of the best work is in children’s hospitals. Grants from PetSmart Charities help fund these programs and keep smiles on children’s faces, even as they’re being treated for serious illnesses.

Launch the gallery slideshow to check out three therapy dogs and the good work they are doing.

 

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Kendra Care Mobile Color Bar Provides A Little Bling For Patients At Children’s Health Dallas

April 27, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

Kendra Scott is known for hosting all types of sip-and-shop parties that support North Texas nonprofits. While enjoying adult beverages and chatting, the guests have the opportunity to buy goodies with a portion of the purchases going to the charity du jour.

Last May the Kendra Scott team stepped out of their jewelry boutiques and headed to Children’s Health Dallas with “more than 130 jewelry via their Kendra Cares Mobile Color Bar program and Mother’s Day gift baskets” for the young patients and their moms.

One of the first patients to experience the Kendra Care Mobile Color Bar was 16-year-old Diweni, who had just been diagnosed with cancer that day. The unexpected gifts made the day a little less daunting for the daughter and mother. While some might have thought it to be a piece of jewelry, others might have considered it as a medal for a young warrior in the battle against cancer.

Over the next four months, Diweni underwent her treatments at Children’s Health. It was in September that she and her mom once again participated in Kendra Cares Mobile Color Bar along with 50 other patients and their “plus one” (aka mom).

But battle against pediatric cancer requires more than providing a little dazzle for a child and Kendra Scott knows it and is once again stepping up to help provide the funds. On Monday, April 30, from 5 to 8 p.m. The West Village location will host the 2nd Annual Kendra Gives Back Shopping Event with 20% of the proceeds benefiting the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health.

With Mother’s Day, graduations and weddings just around the corner, why not get it all done on Monday? And while you’re at it, pick something up for yourself. You deserve it.

 

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Tony Romo to Guest DJ a High-Powered Dallas Gala

April 25, 2018 - Paper City

Cowboys star Dak Prescott participates in the CCF Gala 2017s fashion show fun; photo courtesy of CCF

It’s the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, and it’s fixing up to be a “sweet” one. With the most memorable guest DJ ever.

What to expect? Live and silent auctions, a fashion show put on by the patients of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, as well as the three most important words everyone wants to hear: dinner, drinking, and dancing.

Founded in 1982 by a group of parents whose children were being treated at Children’s Medical, Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF) focuses on fundraising to provide the best treatments for kids with cancer throughout North Texas. Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center are two leaders in pediatric cancer research and treatment. To put it simply, Children’s Cancer Fund describes itself as “a movement for a cancer-free tomorrow.”

 

The perfectly themed “sweet” night begins promptly at 6 pm with a VIP champagne reception and silent auction. An hour later, doors open to the Landmark Ballroom for dinner, live auction, and fashion show. Entertainment will be provided by the very talented Ray Johnston Band, but that’s not all.

When the after party commences, prepare for the Jordan Kahn Orquestra and special guest DJ former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. (His wife Candice Romo is one of the co-chairs.

Come celebrate a night for a wonderful cause with returning Honorary Event Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, and co-chairs Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin.

 

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Adorable Mini Models Give This Fashion Show Plenty of Heart

April 24, 2018 - Paper City

What: Legacy of Love Benefit & Fashion Show

Where: Mercedes-Benz of Plano

PC Moment: The sixth annual Legacy of Love Benefit & Fashion Show turned into a major success for the Children’s Medical Center Plano. The fun, fashion-focused event surpassed its fundraising goal, securing nearly $250,000 for the children’s hospital.

The Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano partnered with Mercedes-Benz of Plano and Neiman Marcus for this year’s benefit, which highlighted New York-based fashion designer Michelle Smith’s Milly Minis collection.

More than 300 guests came out to show their support for the Children’s Medical Center Plano, and enjoy great food and fashion. 

The evening began with a selection of light bites from some of Legacy and Legacy West’s best restaurants, including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Steakhouse Haywire, Mr. Mesero, Seasons 52, Tommy Bahama, True Food Kitchen, RA Sushi, Shake Shack and Sugarfina.

The fashion show, which was directed by Planet Productions and Marjon Zabihi Henderson of Neiman Marcus, featured patients from Children’s Medical Center as adorable mini models. Sonia Azad and Chuck Steelman served as the show’s emcees, while a colorful selection of spring looks from Milly took the runway. 

“If I’m going to travel and show my collection, to be able to tie it into a local cause and do some good locally is really important to me as a brand,” Smith told PaperCity at a Neiman Marcus store appearance earlier that day.

The evening wrapped up on a sweet note with dessert from Sprinkles and coffee from Starbucks Reserve.

The Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano has raised more than $1 million since 2010 in support of the mission to “make life better for children.”

Who: Lisa Raskin, Joa Muns, Tracy Tomson, Jean Callison, Joyce Logan, Diane Hopson, Dallas Stars defenseman Marc Methot, designer Michelle Smith, Chuck Steelman and Sonia Azad.

 

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Working Together to Cure Children's Cancer

April 24, 2018 - CultureMap Dallas

Don't miss Dallas' sweetest gala: the 30th anniversary Children's Cancer Fund on Friday, April 27, at 7 pm. You can expect sweet smiles, sweet styles, and sweet stories of survival in a candy-themed wonderland. 

The benefit will include a children's fashion show featuring 22 patients aged 5-15 from Children's Medical Center in Dallas, accompanied by celebrities and live and silent auctions. And of course there will be dinner, drinks, and dancing. Enjoy entertainment from Ray Johnston Band and music provided by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra, with special guest DJ Tony Romo (yes, that Tony Romo!)

Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach are returning as honorary event chairmen, while Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin will be co-chairing the event.

Children’s Cancer Fund (CCF), founded in 1982, champions kids in their fight against cancer through strategic investments in research and care in North Texas. The group seeks to partially relieve the burden of obtaining and administering funds for pediatric cancer research and treatment at Children’s Health and for selected research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, both nationally recognized programs for the investigation and treatment of childhood cancer.

 

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Children's Cancer Fund Gala is a sell out this Friday!

April 24, 2018 - RSVP Calendar Blog

Mason McGaughey meets Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Coach Jason Garrett (at photo shoot)

The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala “Sweet 30th Anniversary” celebrates 30 years of sweet smiles, sweet styles, and sweet stories of survival in a SOLD OUT candy-themed wonderland THIS Friday, April 27, 2018, at theHyatt Regency Dallas (new location this year) beginning at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and VIP reception and 7 p.m. for the dinner and program.

Co-Chairs Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin join longtime Honorary Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to kick off the evening.  The event is expected to raise more than $1 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern. Staubach, who has been involved all 30 years, and Aikman, now in his 21st year, join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for 22 featured pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 – 15, who model fashions by Dillard’s for the annual fashion show, produced by RSC Productions.

The evening features the Ray Johnston Band and concludes with dancing and music provided by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra and special Guest DJ Tony Romo, CBS NFL Commentator and former Dallas Cowboy.

The gala, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, is sponsored by CBS 11 and features Karen Borta as mistress of ceremonies. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $8 million to the childhood cancer cause.

Isabella Day tosses the football with honorary chair Troy Aikman (at photo shoot)

Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, philanthropists, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show. In addition toRoger Staubach and Troy Aikman, escorts include Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys players and cheerleaders and Rowdy, the Cowboys mascot, as well as Juanika & Monta Ellis (of the Indiana Pacers, NBA); Kiss FM Crew (Kellie Rasberry, Big Al, JC and Jenna); Miss Texas Margana Wood; Medieval Red Knight; Pink Heals Firefighters; Batman; Dallas SWAT; Dallas Fire Station #19; Belle of Beauty and the Beast; and Children’s Cancer Fund alum Russell McKeown.

Sponsors include: $50,000: Anne Davidson; Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health; Tiffanyand Mark Cuban; Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $20,000: Anonymous; $10,000: Troy Aikman; Albertsons-Tom Thumb; Andy Beal; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies;Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Barbara Lipshy; Sewell Automotive; $5,000: Lindy and Brad Berkley; Kenneth Cooper; Dirk Nowitzki Foundation; Stacey and Kenny Doré; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP; Hawk+Sloane; The McCullough Foundation; Pacific Union Financial LLC;Holly and Barry Pennett; The Prather Family; and Simple Automotive.

In-Kind Sponsors: American Airlines; Dillard’s; Gro Event Design; Hyatt Regency Dallas; Katy Sky Group; Kendra Scott; National Fantasy Football Convention; NorthPark Center; OBOY! Productions; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Primera Companies; Reunion Tower; RSC Show Productions; Rsoul Royal Studios; Sugarfina; and Matthew Trent.

 

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Hearst Foundations Present Spring 2018 Grants

April 24, 2018 - Hearst

The Hearst Foundations have announced that 79 grants valued at $8,900,000 have been awarded to deserving nonprofit organizations. The Foundations serve as a national philanthropic resource for cultural, educational, health and social service organizations and dedicate millions of dollars in grants quarterly. This season, Hearst Foundations’ grants included a first-time grant to EDWINS, a restaurant and culinary school which teaches formerly incarcerated individuals to be classically trained chefs in French cuisine. 

The Hearst Foundations—which operate independently from Hearst—act as a unified national philanthropic resource for organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, health, culture and social service. Their work helps to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives.

Since their creation in the 1940s, the Hearst Foundations have awarded more than 20,000 grants, reflecting the philanthropic interests of William Randolph Hearst. Grant proposals are submitted by organizations across the country, reviewed and vetted by the Foundations’ staff based in San Francisco and New York. They are then brought before the Foundations’ Board of Directors for approval.

Details on the organizations presented with grants in March 2018 are listed below.

HEALTH GRANTS

Aurora Health Care, Inc., Milwaukee, WI: To support the expansion and replication of an innovative model of care for older adults with complex healthcare needs.

California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA: To support The Clinical Neuroethics Initiative of the Program in Medicine and Human Values.

Caridad Center, Boynton Beach, FL: To provide general support.

Center for Youth Wellness, San Francisco, CA: To support the national expansion of a program to train and guide pediatricians in screening and treating children for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, NE: To support the Nursing Scholarship Program.

Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, CA: To support the new Children's Mental Health Center.

Children's Medical Center Dallas, Dallas, TX: To increase access to quality medical care to underserved children in North Texas.

CHRISTUS Hospital St. Elizabeth, Beaumont, TX: To purchase defibrillators for the Emergency Department.

J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA: To support the Career Development Pathway for Young Scientists.

Jewish Family & Career Services, Atlanta, GA: To support Ben Massell Dental Clinic in providing comprehensive oral care and on-site access to primary, mental and vision health services.

John Muir Health, Walnut Creek, CA: To support the Family Medicine Residency Program.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, Los Angeles, CA: To support the two-year pilot phase of Transitions to Practice, a new, innovative nurse training program.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis, TN: To improve access to health care in the Hispanic and Latino community.

Siloam Health, Nashville, TN: To provide healthcare for Nashville's uninsured, immigrant and refugee communities.

St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children, Bayside, NY: Toward the capital campaign to add 21 ventilator-equipped beds.

StrivRight Auditory Oral School of NY, Brooklyn, NY: Toward facility expansion to provide increased services and resources for children with hearing impairments.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - New York City Chapter, New York, NY: Toward the "Beat Acute Myeloid Leukemia" initiative.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth, NJ: Toward the acquisition of a 3D mammography system at the new Connie Dwyer Breast Center.

Youth Villages, Memphis, TN: To expand the Center for Intensive Residential Treatment, serving emotionally-troubled young people.

 

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3 East Texas Kids to Participate in Star-Studded Cancer Benefit

April 22, 2018 - Longview News-Journal

Braylon Clark, 11, speaks about being diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, playing video games, and starting the nonprofit organization Braylon’s Blessings which will offer Uber Eats gift cards to families while in the hospital. Tuesday April 10, 2018 (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

For 8-year-old Nory Hearron, a trip to Dallas usually means a daylong medical checkup, but Friday, it’ll be all about the fancy dress.

The White Oak School Primary School student is one of three area children battling cancer who have been chosen to strut their stuff at a star-studded gala.

Along with Nory, 11-year-old Braylon Clark and 5-year-old Mason McGaughey, both of Longview, were chosen to model during the 30th annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala.

The Children’s Cancer Fund raises money for pediatric cancer research and treatment. The area youngsters were chosen to participate in the gala through an application process open to children ages 5 to 15 who are receiving treatment at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Former Dallas Cowboy quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman are among several celebrities and sponsors who will serve as runway escorts.

Braylon Clark

Braylon was diagnosed with a stage 4 Wilms tumor in February 2017 after two months of doctor visits.

“Around late December 2016, I was getting really nauseous, having fevers and stuff, so my mom took me to the doctor,” Braylon said.

Jennifer Singleton, his mother, recalled receiving calls from her son’s school to relay his symptoms.

“I was at work and I would just take him to (a) quick care clinic after I got off from work and they just said the first two times, ‘Oh, it’s just the stomach virus,’ and sent him home,” she said.

After the third phone call, Singleton said her concern grew, and she took him to his pediatrician.

“They were examining me and found a lump on my stomach,” her son said. “I noticed the little lump on my stomach, but I thought it was because I was eating too much.”

After Braylon’s pediatrician did a full physical exam and saw the tumor, the doctor recommended the boy get examined at the Dallas hospital, Singleton said.

“Two days later, we were in Dallas,” she said. “He has a Wilms tumor, but they didn’t think that because he’s out of the age range. He’s older than the typical age.”

Usually, Wilms tumors are found inside of the kidney. Braylon’s was on the outside.

“His was a little different because his was sitting on top of his kidney, so they just removed the tumor. He still had radiation and chemo, but they didn’t have to remove his kidney,” Singleton said.

Going to Dallas every week was “tough at first,” but the 11-year-old said he got used it.

“In the beginning, it was just once a week and after he got the tumor removed, they saw the cancer was more aggressive than they thought,” Singleton said, describing how treatments became more frequent.

Braylon finished his last treatment on March 12. He’ll have his port removed soon, his mother said, and he’ll return to Dallas regularly for checkups.

Because of his treatment schedule, Braylon has been participating in homebound education, with an instructor visiting him at his house. Singleton said she expects Braylon to attend classes at Spring Hill Junior High School in August.

Braylon, an avid gamer, wants to develop video games when he grows up.

“I have all of these ideas in my head for video games,” he said. “Whenever I see games, I’m like ‘Oh, this should’ve been in there.’ ”

He plays Nintendo Switch games to de-stress, but sometimes he plays Donkey Kong Country and Mario Party with his mom.

Braylon’s cancer diagnosis brought the pair closer, he said.

Singleton and Braylon started Braylon’s Blessings, a nonprofit that will donate Uber Eats gift cards for families on extended hospital stays.

“After a week, I was like ‘I don’t want to eat this hospital food anymore,’ ” Braylon said.

Singleton ordered food using Uber Eats, an app-based food delivery service.

“We did a lot of Uber Eats and it adds up,” his mother said. “We’ll deliver Uber Eats gift cards (as) a small token to say ‘Hey, we’re thinking about you. We’ve been through this journey. We know how it is,’ and just take some of that burden off.”

More information about Braylon’s Blessings, can be found on Facebook, Singleton said.

Braylon said he looks forward to showing off his island-themed outfit on the runway.

Nory Hearron

Six years ago, Nory Hearron’s pediatrician diagnosed her with a stomach virus, said her mother, Jennifer Hearron.

“I’d take her to the doctor once a week (with) more fevers and no answers,” Nory’s mom said.

Nory’s dad, Bryan Hearron, came home from a business trip and noticed that his daughter wasn’t her naturally bubbly self. He urged his wife to take Nory to the hospital, Jennifer Hearron said.

“Once they ran the blood work and realized something major was going on, they had secretly contacted oncology and I didn’t know it. So all night long, the nurses were stalling,” Nory’s mother said. “When the doctor walked in, she had her oncology lab coat on and just sat down next to me, held my hand and explained that she has leukemia. We didn’t know what type yet.”

Nory was diagnosed on Valentine’s Day that year with an advanced stage of chronic myeloid leukemia.

“Normally a gentleman in his 50s is the typical patient for this type of leukemia, so it was shocking when we found out Nory had it,” Jennifer Hearron said. “A gentleman in his 50s could start his chemo and do well on it for the rest of his life. However, a 2 year old, they don’t know. She can do well on it for a time, but we don’t know how long.”

Nory started treatment at Children’s, with doctors initially calling for a bone marrow transplant.

“We did matching within the family and realized that one of her brothers was a match and kind of made that our target, but again, her body continued to do well on the medication and that’s where we’ve been ever since,” her mother said. “We’ve stayed on the medication for six years now, and she’s doing good.”

On Valentine’s Day, Nory gives goody bags to hospitalized children.

“That particular day of February was the day we found out her official diagnosis, so every year since then, we’ve taken goodies for the kids that are in-patient or clinic,” Jennifer Hearron said.

Since the Hearrons moved to White Oak, community members donate candy and notes of encouragement to the cause, her mother said.

“I like candy that we get,” Nory said. “I get to go on stage to walk the runway with a local celebrity.”

Her mother said Nory picked out “a really fancy dress to wear and fancy shoes.”

“They’re keeping (the dress) there in Dallas so it’s safe,” her mother said.

Mason McGaughey

Because doctor offices were closed for the Christmas holiday, Mason’s mom, Patricia McGaughey, took the then 2-year-old to the emergency room for a high fever.

“We took him to the ER and the doctor was like, ‘It’s an ear infection. We’ll start on antibiotics,’ ” she said. “We were like, ‘Awesome, (it’s an) ear infection. By the time it gets to Christmas, he’ll be able to have fun.’ ”

His condition got worse as days went on. At its highest, his temperature was 104 degrees. The McGaughey family powered through Christmas before taking him back to the ER.

Mason was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, she said.

“Their treatments are longer because the blood recycles itself naturally ... Because of that, it took one cell — it was off — one leukemia cell in the blood to explode to become the leukemia he has,” Patricia said. “It can only take one to do the same thing again. It’ll be able three and a half years before he’s finished.”

Mason goes to Dallas for chemotherapy once a month. Because he has a port and is at risk for infection, he goes to the ER if he has a high fever, Patricia said.

“Every third month is a lumbar puncture visit, which is when they stick a needle in your back, pull out some fluid and test it ... because if leukemia is going to relapse it’s going relapse in your CSF, which is your spinal fluid,” she said.

During his first month of treatment, he stopped walking and lost his hair. For solidarity, his older brother and dad shaved their heads.

One effect of Mason’s diagnosis is neuropathy, or weakness within the limbs that causes difficulties when walking or playing. He goes to physical therapy and wears ankle-foot braces to help stabilize his feet, Patricia McGaughey said.

Mason is usually anxious on treatment day, but if he has his favorite blanket — a green, tattered blanket embroidered with his name — he’s OK.

When they’re not in Dallas, the family has movie nights at home, his mom said.

Mason has said he’s excited to go to the gala because he gets to “see some Cowboys and show off,” according to information from the Children’s Caner Fund.

“I’m really excited to see his personality. I’m really excited to ... watch him have fun,” his mother said. “He was diagnosed the day after Christmas (in) 2015. Since then, we’ve had several not-so-fun moments, sad moments and scary moments. So it’s always fun to see him be a kid.”

 

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Children's Cancer Fund Candy-Themed Gala is Expected to Raise $1 Million

April 21, 2018 - Dallas Morning News

The Dallas-based Children's Cancer Fund will celebrate its 30th anniversary Friday with a candy-themed gala that's expected to raise more than $1 million.

Honorary chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman will join event chairs Candice Romo and Holly Siglin at the Children's Cancer Fund Sweet 30th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

The gala will also present pediatric patients in a Dillard's fashion show escorted by Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys players and cheerleaders, and other familiar faces.

"This night is all about the kids," said development director Jennifer Arthur. "They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles."

Sponsors include:

$50,000: Anne Davidson and Texas de Brazil.

$25,000: Children's Health, Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation, Tiffany and Mark Cuban, Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and Marianne and Roger Staubach.

$10,000: Troy Aikman, Albertsons-Tom Thumb, Andy Beal, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Headington Cos., Jennifer Stroud Foundation, Barbara Lipshyand Sewell Automotive.

$5,000: Lindy and Brad Berkley; Kenneth Cooper; Dirk Nowitzki Foundation; Stacey and Kenny Doré; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo LLP; Hawk+Sloane;  McCullough Foundation; Pacific Union Financial LLC; Holly and Barry Pennett; the Prather family; and Simple Automotive.

In-kind donors are American Airlines, Dillard's, Gro Event Design, Hyatt Regency Dallas, Katy Sky Group, Kendra Scott, National Fantasy Football Convention, NorthPark Center, OBoy! Productions, Outfront Media, Patty Foppen Photography, Primera Cos., Reunion Tower, RSC Show Productions, Rsoul Royal Studios, Sugarfina and Matthew Trent.

The media sponsors are KTVT-TV (Channel 11)/KTXA (Channel 21), CultureMap Dallas and Good Life Family Magazine.

Seats are $300 each at childrenscancerfund.com, and you can also buy tickets for cancer patients and their family members.

 

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Scientists Identify 170 Potential Lung Cancer Drug Targets Using Unique Cellular Library

April 19, 2018 - UT Southwestern

After testing more than 200,000 chemical compounds, UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center researchers have identified 170 chemicals that are potential candidates for development into drug therapies for lung cancer.

The 5-year project set out to identify new therapeutic targets for non-small cell lung cancer as well as potential drugs for these targets – a significant step forward toward personalizing cancer care.

“For the large majority of compounds, we identified a predictive biomarker – a feature that allows the development of ‘precision medicine,’ or individualized treatment for each patient, which is a major goal of the Simmons Cancer Center,” said Dr. John Minna, Director of the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for both men and women, according to the National Cancer Institute. Non-small cell lung cancer, the type of cancer studied in this research, comprises approximately 85 percent of all lung cancers. In 2017, lung cancer caused 26 percent of all cancer deaths.

From left, Dr. Bruce Posner, Dr. Michael Roth, Dr. Michael Peyton, and Dr. John Minna were part of the team scientists who identified 170 chemicals for potential new targets to develop drugs to treat lung cancer.

Using UT Southwestern’s unique lung cancer cell library that is now the world’s largest, the researchers searched for compounds that would kill cancer cells but not harm normal lung cells.

“We began an ambitious project with the goal of identifying ‘therapeutic triads’: chemicals that kill cancer cells, biomarkers that predict who would respond, and the therapeutic targets on which those active chemicals work,” said Dr. Minna, Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology who holds the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research and the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology.

Continuing to uncover the mechanism of action for the majority of the 170 chemicals will be a key focus of future research. Follow-up work will also include testing the chemicals on other types of cancer. Preliminary work shows some of the compounds are likely effective against certain breast and ovarian cancers as well.

Results of this complex project, led by Dr. Michael White, former Professor of Cell Biology and now Vice President for Oncology Drug Development at Pfizer Inc., involved members of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Departments of Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Internal Medicine, and appear in the journal Cell.

Dr. Minna, along with his research partner Dr. Adi Gazdar, Professor of Pathology and with the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology, have carefully developed and curated a collection of lung cancer cell lines since the 1970s that is now recognized as the world’s largest – and upon which this research was based. Dr. Minna was named a “Giant of Cancer Care” in 2015 in recognition of this work developing lung cancer cell lines.

What made this work unusual was that they began with the chemical compounds.

“Almost all cancer research is gene-first, or target-first. We began with the potential drugs,” said Dr. Michael Roth, Professor of Biochemistry and a member of the Simmons Cancer Center.

Dr. Bruce Posner directs UT Southwestern’s High-Throughput Screening Core Facility, which allowed scientists to screen 200,000 chemical compounds to identify potential lung cancer drug targets.

Using UT Southwestern’s High-Throughput Screening Core Facility, the team of scientists began by testing 200,000 chemicals against 12 lung cancer cell lines.

“The initial screen gave us 15,000 chemical ‘hits,’ way too many to work with in detail, but with repeat testing we eventually narrowed the number down to 170. We called this the UT Southwestern ‘Precision Oncology Probe Set,’ or POPS,” said Dr. Bruce Posner, Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the High-Throughput center.

The set of 170 chemical compounds was then tested across 100 lung cancer lines.

At the same time, researchers conducted in-depth molecular analyses of the lung cancer lines, including identification of genome mutations and protein expression. This information, paired with whether or not an individual cancer cell line was sensitive to a particular chemical, allowed the researchers to develop a set of biomarkers – indicators that could be used to determine if a particular cancer will respond to one of the 170 chemical compounds.

The final step of the study was determining how the drugs acts on the cancer. “We scoured existing knowledge and were able to come up with the target for several examples to complete the third leg of the triad,” said Dr. Roth, who holds the Diane and Hal Brierley Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research at UT Southwestern, which is recognizing its 75th anniversary this year.

The first author on the Cell paper describing the group’s findings is Dr. Elizabeth McMillan, a former UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student, who developed sophisticated computational biology approaches to analyze the massive amount of data.

Other UT Southwestern faculty members who contributed to this research are Dr. Luc Girard, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and with the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research; Dr. Noelle Williams, Professor of Biochemistry; Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, with Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, and Chief of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism. Dr. Gazdar holds the W. Ray Wallace Distinguished Chair in Molecular Oncology Research. Dr. DeBerardinis holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health; the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; the Robert Welch Foundation; and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea. Dr. Minna, holds a National Cancer Institute Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, in conjunction with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The UT Southwestern SPORE is one of just three lung cancer SPORE grants nationally. SPORE grants support programs that have strong basic and applied research programs, and projects that will result in new and diverse approaches to the prevention and treatment of cancer.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of 49 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S. and the only one in North Texas, is among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site.

 

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IICF Southeast Division Awards $473K in Grants to Nonprofits in Texas, Region

April 17, 2018 - Insurance Journal

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) Southeast Division has awarded $473,000 in community grants to 24 nonprofit organizations that champion the causes of children at risk, education and military veterans.

Representatives of these nonprofits received their grant checks from members of the IICF Southeast Board of Directors on April 9 at the annual IICF Southeast Division Grant Reception, this year hosted in Dallas at the offices of Zurich North America, one of IICF’s Key Partner Company supporters.

Since the 2012 founding of the IICF Southeast Division, over $3.2 million has been granted to more than 125 nonprofits in the region through the IICF Community Grants Program.

The Community Grants Program is funded in part by events throughout the year and supported by the insurance and business communities in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston and more

The IICF Georgia and Houston Chapters both host fall fundraising events as well, a carnival networking event and a sporting clay tournament, respectively. The Georgia Chapter has granted $358,000 since its inception three years ago and the Houston Chapter, which launched in late 2016, has already contributed $88,000 in the local Houston community.

In 2017, following the devastating natural disasters, insurance industry supporters contributed more than $630,000 to the IICF Disaster Relief Funds to help recovery throughout the Southeast and beyond.

IICF is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, having granted more than $30 million to nonprofit and charitable organizations and involving more than 100,000 insurance industry professionals in community volunteering.

The 24 grant recipients in the IICF Southeast Division for 2018 are as follows:

  • Alliance for Children
  • Camp Summit
  • Catholic Charities of Fort Worth Veterans Program
  • ChildCareGroup
  • Children’s Advocacy Center of Colin County
  • Children’s Health
  • Con mi Madre
  • Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Foundation for C.H.O.I.C.E
  • Gratitude Initiative
  • Lakeshore Foundation
  • Make A Wish North Texas
  • Mi Escuelita
  • Mobile Loaves & Fishes
  • Operation Healing Forces
  • Our Friends Place
  • People’s Community Clinic
  • Rainbow Days
  • Soldier’s Angels
  • Sons of the Flag
  • Read2Win Tarrant County
  • Team Rubicon
  • The Toby Keith Foundation
  • Vogel Alcove

Source: IICF Southeast Division

 

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Kadron Patterson, 10, Is a Featured Model in Children's Cancer Fund Gala April 27

April 16, 2018 - Dallas Uptown BubbleLife

Co-Chairs Candice Romo & Hollie Siglin Join Honorary Chairs Roger Staubach & Troy Aikman and cancer patients, survivors, and celebrities for a fashion show, dinner, and dancing, with Special Guest DJ Tony Romo

2018 CCF Models

Kadron Patterson, 10, of Dallas, is a featured model at the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala “Sweet 30thAnniversary,” celebrating 30 years of sweet smiles, sweet styles, and sweet stories of survival in a candy-themed wonderland.  The Gala will take place on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas (new location this year) beginning at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and VIP reception and 7 p.m. for the dinner and program. Co-Chairs Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin join longtime Honorary Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to kick off the evening.  The event is expected to raise more than $1 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern. Staubach, who has been involved all 30 years, and Aikman, now in his 21st year, join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for 22 featured pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 – 15, who model fashions by Dillard’s for the annual fashion show, produced by RSC Productions and coordinated by Katy Sky Group. The evening features the Ray Johnston Band and concludes with dancing and music provided by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra and special Guest DJ Tony Romo, CBS NFL Commentator and former Dallas Cowboy.

Kadron Patterson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2017.  He loves math and science and would like to be an inventor one day. He has two brothers and a sister and enjoys playing video games with them and his friends. His favorite movie is the Emoji movie. Patterson is the happiest when he is feeling good and surrounded by his family. If he could go anywhere in the world, it would be the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta.

“I can’t wait for the Gala because I’m looking forward to being a model and meeting new kids who are going through the same thing that I am,” said Patterson.

Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, philanthropists, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show. In addition to Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, escorts include Tony RomoDallas Cowboys players and cheerleaders and Rowdy, the Cowboys mascot, as well as Victoria ArlenGarry Brown, television producer/director; Melissa Brown, actress; Mike Crum; Juanika & Monta Ellis (of the Indiana Pacers, NBA); Kiss FM Crew (Kellie Rasberry, Big Al, JC and Jenna); Miss Texas Margana WoodScott Murray; Eric Norris; Amy Vanderoef; Medieval Red Knight; Pink Heals Firefighters; Batman; Belle of Beauty and the Beast; Dallas SWAT; Dallas Fire Station #19; and Children’s Cancer fund alum Russell McKeown.

Kadron meets Gala Honorary Chairs at the annual photo shoot Kadron met longtime Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman

The gala, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, is sponsored by CBS 11 and features Karen Borta as mistress of ceremonies. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $8 million to the childhood cancer cause. Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com/gala for reservations and more information. 

Co-Chairs Romo and Siglin are also moms and best friends who are passionate about championing children.  The mission of Children’s Cancer Fund and the importance of this fundraiser led them both to say yes when asked to be this year’s co-chairs of the gala.

“With a passion for children and a love of fashion, my heart is happy to be part of the Children’s Cancer Fund 30th Anniversary Fashion Show,” said Candice Romo.

A native Texan and Dallas resident, Romo has three sons with Tony Romo. She is co-owner with Siglin of Hawk + Sloane, a line of children’s sprays they created. Siglin and her husband, Chris, reside in West Plano and also have three children.

“I am so honored to be a part of this event, which has such a significant impact on improving the future for those affected by pediatric cancer,” added Siglin.

“This night is all about the kids,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF Executive Director of Development. “They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles. This is a night they have looked forward to all year. The grand finale, which features CCF models from the past 30 years, is one of the most incredible moments of the evening. These sweet stories of survival are a testimony to the impact CCF is making in our community.”

Kadron Patterson with Co-Chairs - Kadron (right) had the chance to meet Gala Co-Chairs Hollie Siglin and Candice Romo at a Children's Cancer Fund Special Event at Sugarfina at NorthPark Center

Children’s Cancer Fund was founded in 1982 by a coalition of parents whose children were receiving cancer therapy at Children’s Medical Center. The organizers have since been joined by community leaders, dedicated volunteers, and health professionals in their fundraising efforts. CCF is one of the nation’s leading fundraising groups in supporting local research toward treatment and prevention of childhood cancers. Among the programs supported by Children’s Cancer Fund are the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Children's Health and the Children's Cancer Fund Comprehensive Center for Research in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, which is gaining a national reputation for its work in eradicating childhood cancer. In 2002, Children’s Cancer Fund initiated funding for a full-time Child Life Specialist at the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children’s Medical Center to assist the outpatient team. The primary goal of the Child Life Specialist is to make each of the 80-90 daily outpatients’ visits a more positive experience. This position is funded annually by CCF, helping to ease the emotional strain of ongoing treatments, some lasting several years.

Sponsors include: $50,000: Anne Davidson; Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health, Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; Tiffany and Mark Cuban; Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $20,000: Anonymous; $10,000: Troy AikmanAlbertsons-Tom Thumb; Andy BealLisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies; Jennifer Stroud FoundationBarbara Lipshy; Sewell Automotive; $5,000: Lindy and Brad Berkley; Kenneth Cooper; Dirk Nowitzki FoundationStacey and Kenny Doré; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLPHawk+Sloane;The McCullough Foundation; Pacific Union Financial LLC; Holly and Barry Pennett; The Prather Family; and Simple Automotive.

In-Kind Sponsors: American Airlines; Dillard’s; Gro Event Design; Hyatt Regency Dallas; Katy Sky Group; Kendra Scott; National Fantasy Football Convention; NorthPark Center; OBOY! Production; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Primera Companies; Reunion Tower; RSC Show Productions; Rsoul Royal Studios; Sugarfina; and Matthew Trent.

The media sponsors are CBS11/TXA21, CultureMap Dallas, and Good Life Family Magazine.

Visit Kadron’s personal fundraising page:  www.childrenscancerfund.com/kadronpatterson

 

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Grateful family uses Red Balloon Run & Ride to Give back to Children’s

April 12, 2018

R.H. Barnett always puts his best efforts into physical therapy and occupational therapy at Children’s Health.

His hard work inspires other people, and those people formed a team for the Alliance Data Red Balloon Run & Ride. That team raised more than $36,000 in 2016 to buy therapeutic play stations at Children’s Health.

The Dallas 4-year-old uses his sessions to beat back the limits of cerebral palsy by working with Children’s Health therapists on swings in the sensory gym, at a desk working on fine motor skills and in a new specially built pool for patients working to improve their mobility. His training helps him prep for each year’s Alliance Data Red Balloon Run and Ride, a 5K run and bike rally that allows teams to raise money for Children’s Health. This year’s Red Balloon Run and Ride takes off from the Children’s Health Plano campus on April 21.

R.H.’s tireless embrace of each chance to keep moving has been a source inspiration for his team and a joy for his parents.

“He’s the happiest kid I ever met in my life. He just bursts with joy,” R.H.’s father, Michael Barnett, said. “He has every reason to be frustrated and angry, but he’s the opposite.”

As the Barnetts spoke, Children’s Health physical therapist Nikki Pham worked with R.H., gently nudging his feet a little closer inward and keeping her hands on his hips to keep them aligned.

It seems like painstaking work, but R.H. never takes it that way. He enjoys every session.

The pool R.H. uses is one of several new, state-of-the-art pieces of equipment that makes Children’s Gait and Mobility Program one of only three of its kind in the country. When the pool floor lowers, R.H. excitedly crouches down to meet the water as it rushes in from all sides.

“He loves how the floor of the pool adjusts and automatically submerges into the pool water at whatever depth his therapist decides. He thinks it’s magic!” Mrs. Barnett said. “He’s been working on hip stabilization, lower-body strengthening, learning to kick and how to jump and push off the ground.”

In recent pool therapy, he worked his way up to step on and over a submerged box and toward a beach ball that floated in front of him. Therapists make each session feel like play, and the sessions have built life changing abilities for R.H.

“He was completely immobile when he started, and he was a nearly a year old, so he should have been at least crawling,” Mr. Barnett said. “Now he can walk independently, climb stairs and play appropriately with his toys. He’s so much happier because he can do so much more.”

The pool and three other major pieces of equipment were purchased with funding from the Crystal Charity Ball. The functionality they offer are complimented by therapeutic play stations purchased by funding from R.H.’s Red Balloon Run and Ride team. They are something of a ripple effect of his constant efforts to improve.

“The little victories matter so much to us because for him they’re big victories,” Mr. Barnett said.

 

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Legacy of Love Benefit & Fashion Show for Children’s Health

April 10, 2018 - Plano Profile

The Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano is partnering with Mercedes-Benz of Plano and Neiman Marcus to host the 6th annual Legacy of Love Benefit & Fashion Show on Thursday, April 12, at Mercedes-Benz of Plano.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., at which time guests can mingle while listening to music and bidding on luxury raffle items. Delicious bites from several notable Shops at Legacy and Legacy West restaurants, including Del Friscos Double Eagle, Steakhouse Haywire, Mr. Mesero, Seasons 52, Tommy Bahama, True Food Kitchen, RA Sushi, Shake Shack and Sugarfina will be served during this time.  

Following the reception, guests will be treated to a fashion show highlighting designer Michelle Smith’s MILLY collection. After the show, guests can linger over coffee and dessert provided by local vendors Sprinkles Cupcakes and Starbucks Reserve.   

“I am humbled to be serving as the event chair for the 6th annual Legacy of Love event,” said Tracy Tomson. “Working alongside those involved with Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano is an honor and a privilege. Our hope is that we can continue to expand on past success and raise more funds for Children’s Health than ever before!” 

Sonia Azad, WFAA’s health and wellness reporter will serve as the emcee for the evening, alongside Dallasite Chuck Steelman from Neiman Marcus. As an established broadcast journalist and fashionista, Ms. Azad will provide commentary on Legacy of Love’s heartwarming initiative and MILLY’s spring collection. Marjon Zabihi Henderson of Neiman Marcus and Planet Productions are the fashion show producers.

The Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano was formed in 2010 to help meet the needs of Children’s Health Plano, which officially opened its doors in August 2008. Net proceeds from the Legacy of Love Benefit & Fashion Show will go directly to Children’s Health Plano. Since 2010, the Women’s Auxiliary, Plano Chapter has raised over $1 million in support of the Children’s Health mission to make life better for children.

“We are all very excited for this year’s event and wish to thank Children’s Medical Center Plano for the continuous opportunity to give back,” said Kathy Schell, president of the Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center Plano. “We also want to thank our donors who make the event possible, and we encourage others from the community to join in making a difference for children.” 

Purchase event tickets and sponsorships at www.LegacyofLoveBenefit.org.

Luxury raffle tickets are available from Legacy of Love committee members for $25 each, five for $100, or 12 for $200. You need not be present to win. Winner will be contacted by phone or email. Tickets are available by contacting Debi Means at legacyloveraffle@childrensauxiliary.org.


Presenting Sponsor

  • Jennifer & Dalton McGaha

Diamond Designer Sponsors

  • Advocare
  • Betty & James Muns Foundation
  • Tim Boobar 

Platinum Pinstripes Sponsors

  • AMDOCS
  • Aimbridge Hospitality
  • Carrie & Jim Benson
  • Ashleigh & Ben Pogue
  • Prime Lending
  • Tracy & Steve Tomson
  • Amy Medford

Gold Lame’ Gown Sponsors

  • Blue Ribbon Roofing
  • Love Life Foundation
  • Rene’ & Hank Neely
  • Pam & Craig Wohlers

Silver Stillettos Sponsors

  • Atmos Energy
  • Capital Advisory Group
  • Chicago Title
  • Brent Christopher
  • Allison & David Doyle
  • Holidaze Gift
  • Junior League of Collin County
  • Michelle & Jon Lauck
  • Linda & Robert Paulk
  • The Jan Richey Team
  • Justine & Sean Sweeney
  • Donna & Jim Watkins
  • Lesley Thompson

Party Favor Sponsor

  • Rustic Cuff

Party Rental Sponsor

  • Top Tier Event Rentals & Staffing

Promotional support provided by:

  • The Power Group & Neiman Marcus Downtown/Willowbend
 

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Original ChopShop Announces Dallas Expansion With New Restaurants in Las Colinas, University Park and Plano

April 10, 2018 - PR Newswire

Phoenix's favorite neighborhood eatery to serve 'Just Feel Good Food'

Rendering of Original ChopShop's first Texas restaurant in Las Colinas.

Original ChopShop, a neighborhood eatery crafting 'Just Feel Good Food' from whole ingredients, announces its expansion to Texas with its first DFW restaurant opening in Las Colinas today at 7300 N. MacArthur Boulevard. A local favorite in its home market of Phoenix since 2013, Original ChopShop has been headquartered in Plano since 2016. The Las Colinas opening marks the seventh location overall and first outside of the Phoenix area.

"We could not be more excited to share 'Just Feel Good Food' with North Texas," said Jason Morgan, CEO of Original ChopShop. "Dallas is a perfect fit for our first Shops outside of Arizona, and our home office team in Plano is thrilled for this next round of growth in our own backyard. We believe folks will appreciate the authenticity, approachability and versatility of this brand – as it's a concept that truly fits into our guests' daily lives."

The company plans to open three more locations in the Dallas area by end of year, including two locations in Plano at the Shops of Legacy and the intersection of Park & Preston, as well as in Dallas at University Park. The new restaurants will bring 200 new jobs to the market, with available positions on the management, culinary and hospitality teams. Interested candidates who are passionate about food and thrive in a fun, fast-paced environment should apply at www.originalchopshop.com/careers.

Since the first restaurant opened in Old Town Scottsdale, Ariz. in 2013, Original ChopShop has provided a warm, welcoming place where guests 'fuel their well-being' with wholesome, flavorful food, made from scratch on-site with real, quality ingredients. The team at Original ChopShop is proud to offer customizable food for 'Every/Body,' providing a variety of dietary-friendly items for adults and children, including food free of gluten, dairy, lactose and soy, along with vegetarian and vegan options. Catering is also available for groups of all sizes, and those interested should reach out to Jill Cowley at 972-546-3833 or at jcowley@chopshopco.com.

Protein bowls are a core component of the menu, providing guests with three key essentials: greens, grains and proteins. The most popular is the Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, which can be served with superfood forbidden rice, brown rice or sweet potato hash.

Additional signature menu items include:  the Danish salad, which includes Danish bleu cheese, smoked almonds and red wine vinaigrette; the Cheat Day Wrap, served with bacon, egg, avocado and ham or turkey; the Power Green and the Daily Detox fresh juices; the Acai Bowl, which is also a superfruit, topped with shredded coconut, bananas, strawberries and agave nectar; and the Muscle Malt and the Jacked Up PB + J protein shakes.

Original ChopShop's 3,400-square-foot interior in Las Colinas accommodates 70 guests and features the brand's signature cozy atmosphere, including sunny accents, distressed wood, handwritten notes and vintage photography. A 500-square-foot patio seats an additional 20 guests and features outdoor festoon lights and custom planters.

Giving back to the community is a cornerstone of the Original ChopShop brand, with a focus on children's health and recovery. Along with the new opening, the restaurant has established a local partnership with Children's Medical Center Dallas. Original ChopShop plans to give an annual $5,000 contribution to the hospital through various initiatives.

Original ChopShop in Las Colinas is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Restaurant hours are 7:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. For additional information, please visit www.originalchopshop.com.

ABOUT ORIGINAL CHOPSHOP:
Original ChopShop is a neighborhood eatery crafting 'Just Feel Good Food' from whole ingredients. Since the first restaurant opened in Old Town Scottsdale, Ariz. in 2013, Original ChopShop has provided a warm, welcoming place where guests can come as they are and fuel their well-being with wholesome, flavorful food. Protein bowls are a core focus of the menu, providing guests with three key essentials: greens, grains and proteins. The menu also offers salads, sandwiches, acai and pitaya superfruit bowls, fresh-squeezed juices, and protein shakes, all made from scratch on-site with real, quality ingredients. The team at Original ChopShop is proud to offer customizable food for 'Every/Body,' providing a variety of dietary-friendly items including food free of gluten, dairy, lactose and soy, along with vegetarian and vegan options, as well as catering options for groups of all sizes. Original ChopShop currently has seven locations in Arizona and Texas. For more information, please visit www.originalchopshop.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with handle @OriginalChopShop or hashtag #JustFeelGoodFood.

 

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Therapeutic Arts Room Opens In Memory Of Kidd Kraddick

April 05, 2018 - Radio INK

(Left to Right) Big Al Mack, Jenna Owens, Caroline Kraddick, Kellie Rasberry, J-Si Chavez.

Kidd’s Kids CEO and Chief Happiness Officer Caroline Kraddick, along with Music Meets Medicine Founder Dr. J Mack Slaughter, officially opened the doors of the Kidd’s Kids and Music Meets Medicine Therapeutic Arts Room in memory of Kidd Kraddick at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the flagship hospital of Children’s Health.

The room is a special place where kids can look beyond healing their physical conditions and, with the help of music therapists, focus on some of the simple pleasures of childhood. In 2013, Dr. Slaughter and Caroline Kraddick, with support from the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show cast and their loyal listeners, launched a campaign to raise $150,000 to create the room. The room is dedicated in memory of Caroline’s late father, Kidd Kraddick, who also mentored J Mack Slaughter in his “previous life” as a member of Kidd’s boy band Sons of Harmony.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to know that this room will be there to help some very special kids and their families focus on healing through the power of music,” said Dr. Slaughter. “We also will have the ability to help them use the time spent in the hospital to learn new creative skills.”

Caroline Kraddick said, “Thanks to Dr. J Mack Slaughter, the Kidd’s Kids Board of Directors, and of course, all of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show listeners who contributed to this room to honor my dad. We have already made special memories here thanks to the power of music which brings us all together.”

 

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Music Meets Medicine In Dallas Hospital Program Named For Kidd Kraddick

April 05, 2018 - CW33

Wednesday was the ribbon cutting of The Kidd's Kids and Music Meets Medicine Therapeutic Arts Room in Memory of Kidd Kraddick at Children's Medical Center Dallas. The room is in memory of legendary radio host Kidd Kraddick. Of course, the late Kidd Kraddick -- aka Dave Craddick -- was the founder of the organization Kidd's Kids.

"It's in honor of my dad. My dad was a huge music lover and spent a lot of time in the hospital hanging out with kids. So, it's really nice to have a place where the kids can come and have a creative outlet and also see my dad's name, so it's a way to keep his legacy alive," Caroline Cradick said.

If you want to help support Kidd's Kids, you can go to BigBeatDallas.com. Every Tuesday night for the entire month of April, the restaurant will donate half of its cover charges to Kidd's Kids. You can come watch live bands while supporting a good cause.

 

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Larotrectinib Exceeds 90% Response Rate in TRK+ Pediatric Cancers

April 03, 2018 - OncLive

Theodore W. Laetsch, MD

Larotrectinib induced an “unprecedented” objective response rate of 93% in pediatric patients with TRK fusion–positive solid tumors, according to findings from a phase I/II study published in The Lancet Oncology.

Twenty-four patients were enrolled in this multicenter, open-label, study conducted at 8 sites in the United States from December 2015 to April 2017. Patients were aged from 1 month to 21 years and had been diagnosed with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors or CNS tumors that had relapsed, progressed, or were nonresponsive to available therapies, regardless of TRK fusion status. Seventeen patients had tumors harboring TRK fusions and 7 did not.

Twenty-two patients were evaluable for response, 15 of whom harbored TRK fusions. Fourteen patients (93%; 95% CI, 68-100), all with TRK fusions, had an objective response  by investigator review. There were 4 complete responses (CRs) and 10 partial responses (PRs). One patient had an initial partial response that became stable disease at a subsequent assessment.

Independent radiology review confirmed objective responses in 14 (93%) patients with 2 CRs and 12 PRs. All 7 patients without documented TRK fusions had progressive disease as best response.

“Every patient with a TRK fusion–positive solid tumor treated on this study had their tumor shrink,” lead author Theodore W. Laetsch, MD, leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program in the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health, Dallas, Texas, said in a statement. “The nearly universal response rate seen with larotrectinib is unprecedented.”

In this dose-escalation phase of the study, 9 patients were positive for NTRK1, 1 for NTRK2, and 7 for NTRK3 fusions. Patients had primary diagnoses of infantile fibrosarcoma (n = 8), other soft tissue sarcomas (n = 7), papillary thyroid cancer (n = 2), and other (n = 7). Eleven (65%) of 17 patients with TRKfusion cancers had locally advanced disease, including 2 (12%) with infantile fibrosarcoma who were enrolled without previous systemic therapy.

Patients received larotrectinib orally twice daily in 28-day cycles of continuous dosing. Cohort 1 used a dosing nomogram that assigned doses on the basis of both age and bodyweight to achieve an area under the curve (AUC) equivalent to an adult dose of 100 mg twice daily. Cohort 2 used a dosing nomogram based on the same modeling predicted to achieve an AUC equivalent to an adult dose of 150 mg twice daily. 

Depending on age, patients in cohort 1 were assigned doses ranging from 17% to 96% of the body surface area (BSA)-adjusted recommended adult phase II dose of 100 mg twice daily, while those in cohort 2 were assigned doses ranging from 30% to 208% of the same BSA-adjusted adult dose. 

After review of data from cohorts 1 and 2, the protocol was amended on Sept 12, 2016, assigning patients enrolled to cohort 3 to a dose of 100 mg/m2 twice daily regardless of age, equating to a maximum of 173% of the recommended adult phase 2 dose.

Of the 17 patients with TRK fusions, 1 patient discontinued treatment, 14 remained on treatment, and 2 underwent surgery with curative intent after a median of 8.2 months (IQR, 5.2-9.5). The median duration of response was not reached.

The maximum-tolerated dose was not reached. Following analysis of safety, pharmacokinetics, and objective responses at the completion of enrollment to cohort 3, researchers established 100 mg/m2 twice daily, with a maximum of 100 mg per dose, as the recommended phase II dose in pediatric patients based on pharmacokinetic parameters similar to those reported in adults treated with 100 mg per dose.

All enrolled patients were evaluable for safety. Three (75%) of 4 patients in cohort 1 and 2 (18%) of 11 in cohort 2 received an intrapatient dose escalation 1 to 4 times each. In cohort 3, 1 patient with a TRK fusion-negative neuroblastoma had a grade 3 dose-limiting ALT elevation. This patient had not undergone intrapatient dose escalation and discontinued therapy because of this adverse event (AE). No other patient had a dose-limiting toxicity or discontinued larotrectinib for AEs. 

Twenty-one (88%) of 24 patients experienced AEs, but only 4 (17%) of those were grade 3 treatment-related AEs. No grade 3 treatment-related AE occurred in more than 1 patient, and there were no grade 4/5 AEs attributed to larotrectinib. There were no larotrectinib-related deaths or deaths on treatment.

There were 2 larotrectinib-related serious AEs, 1 grade 3 nausea and 1 grade 3 ejection fraction decrease. The grade 3 ejection fraction decrease occurred during the patient's 28-day follow-up period off larotrectinib after discontinuation for progressive disease.

Writing in an accompanying editorial, Lucas Moreno, MD, PhD, Clinical Trials Unit, Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús, Madrid, Spain, called the study a “major breakthrough.” He wrote that the treatment produced durable, clinically meaningful responses without compromising quality of life, and the treatment facilitated nonmutilating surgeries for previously inoperable patients.

“In conclusion, this phase I trial showed short-term safety and encouraging activity of larotrectinib in pediatric patients with solid tumors harboring NTRK fusions, and is an exemplary study design in terms of biological rationale, rapid accrual, and inclusion of pediatric age cohorts, which maximizes its chances of success and paves the way for development of other targeted agents in childhood cancers,” wrote Moreno.

In March 2018, Loxo and Bayer completed a rolling submission of a new drug application (NDA) to the FDA for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors harboring an NTRK gene fusion.

The application is supported by findings that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2018, in which larotrectinib induced an objective response rate of 75% (95% CI, 61-85) by independent review and 80% (95% CI, 67-90) by investigator assessment in 55 evaluable adult patients. Per the independent assessment, there were 7 (13%) complete responses, 34 (62%) partial responses, and 5 (9%) patients with stable disease.

At 1 year, 71% of responses were ongoing. More than half (55%) of patients remained progression-free at 1 year. The median duration of response had not been reached after a median follow-up of 8.3 months. The same was true for median progression-free survival after a median follow-up of 9.9 months.

 

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Patron Party for Children's Cancer Fund Gala Kicks Off "Sweet 30th Anniversary" Event in Style

April 02, 2018 - Dallas Uptown BubbleLife

Patron Party for Children's Cancer Fund | Hollie Siglin, Candice Romo, Roger Staubach, Marianne Staubach, Jennifer Arthur

Perfect weather set the scene for the Patron Party for the 30th Annual Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, hosted on March 22 by Cornelia and Ralph Hines in their beautiful Highland Park backyard. Attendees included gala fashion show models Isabella Day, 6, and Caroline Duncan, 5, and their families as well as Gala Co-Chairs Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin and longtime Gala Honorary Co-Chair Roger Staubachand Marianne Staubach. Children’s Cancer Fund board members along with sponsors including Anne Davidson and Holly and Barry Pennett as well as Children’s Cancer Fund Founding Families Fred Shapiro, Dr. Karen Bradshaw, Lisa Prather, and Natalie Swanson, enjoyed the festivities. Children’s Cancer Fund was founded 35 years ago by a coalition of parents whose children were receiving cancer therapy at Children’s Medical Center. The organizers have since been joined by community leaders, dedicated volunteers, and health professionals in their fundraising efforts. CCF is one of the nation’s leading fundraising groups in supporting local research toward treatment and prevention of childhood cancers.

The Children’s Cancer Fund Gala “Sweet 30th Anniversary” celebrates 30 years of sweet smiles, sweet styles, and sweet stories of survival in a candy-themed wonderland, on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas (new location this year) beginning at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and VIP reception and 7 p.m. for the dinner and program. Co-Chairs Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin join longtime Honorary Co-Chairs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to kick off the evening.  The event is expected to raise more than $1 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children's Health and UT Southwestern. Staubach, who has been involved all 30 years, and Aikman, now in his 21st year, join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for 22 featured pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 – 15, who model fashions by Dillard’s for the annual fashion show, produced by RSC Productions and coordinated by Katy Sky Group. The evening features the Ray Johnston Band and concludes with dancing and music provided by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra and special Guest DJ Tony Romo, CBS NFL Commentator and former Dallas Cowboy.

The gala, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, is sponsored by CBS 11 and features Karen Borta as mistress of ceremonies. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $8 million to the childhood cancer cause. Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com/Gala for reservations and more information. 

Co-Chairs Romo and Siglin are also moms and best friends who are passionate about championing children.  The mission of Children’s Cancer Fund and the importance of this fundraiser led them both to say yes when asked to be this year’s co-chairs of the gala.

“With a passion for children and a love of fashion, my heart is happy to be part of the Children’s Cancer Fund 30th Anniversary Fashion Show,” said Candice Romo.

A native Texan and Dallas resident, Romo has three sons with Tony Romo. She is co-owner with Siglin of Hawk + Sloane, a line of children’s sprays they created. Siglin and her husband, Chris, reside in West Plano and also have three children.

“I am so honored to be a part of this event, which has such a significant impact on improving the future for those affected by pediatric cancer,” added Siglin.

Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, philanthropists, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show. In addition to Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, escorts include Tony RomoDallas Cowboys players and cheerleaders and Rowdy, the Cowboys mascot, as well as Juanika & Monta Ellis (of the Indiana Pacers, NBA); Kiss FM Crew (Kellie Rasberry, Big Al, JC and Jenna); Miss Texas Margana WoodScott Murray; Medieval Red Knight;  Pink Heals Firefighters; Batman; Dallas SWAT; Dallas Fire Station #19; Belle of Beauty and the Beast; and Children’s Cancer fund alum Russell McKeown.

“This night is all about the kids,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF Executive Director of Development. “They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles. This is a night they have looked forward to all year. The grand finale, which features CCF models from the past 30 years, is one of the most incredible moments of the evening. These sweet stories of survival are a testimony to the impact CCF is making in our community.”

Among the programs supported by Children’s Cancer Fund are the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Children's Health and the Children's Cancer Fund Comprehensive Center for Research in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, which is gaining a national reputation for its work in eradicating childhood cancer. In 2002, Children’s Cancer Fund initiated funding for a full-time Child Life Specialist at the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children’s Medical Center to assist the outpatient team. The primary goal of the Child Life Specialist is to make each of the 80-90 daily outpatients’ visits a more positive experience. This position is funded annually by CCF, helping to ease the emotional strain of ongoing treatments, some lasting several years.

Sponsors include: $50,000: Anne Davidson; Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Children’s Health; Tiffany andMark Cuban; Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders; Marianne and Roger Staubach; $20,000: Anonymous; $10,000: Troy AikmanAlbertsons-Tom Thumb; Andy BealLisa and Clay Cooley; Headington Companies; Jennifer Stroud FoundationBarbara Lipshy; Sewell Automotive; $5,000: Lindy and Brad Berkley; Dirk Nowitzki FoundationStacey and Kenny Doré;Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLPHawk+Sloane; The McCullough Foundation; Pacific Union Financial LLC; Holly and Barry Pennett; The Prather Family; and Simple Automotive.

In-Kind Sponsors: American Airlines; Dillard’s; Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation; Gro Event Design; Hyatt Regency Dallas; Kendra Scott; National Fantasy Football Convention; NorthPark Center; OBOY! Production; Outfront Media; Patty Foppen Photography; Primera Companies; RSC Show Productions; Rsoul Royal Studios; Sugarfina; and Matthew Trent.

The media sponsors are CBS11/TXA21 and Good Life Family Magazine.

Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com.

 

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UT Southwestern Cancer Research Gets $28 Million Booster Shot

April 02, 2018 - Dallas Morning News

Texas' cancer-fighting agency is pumping $27.8 million into research of breast, prostate, brain and other forms of cancers in North Texas, as well as creation of lung and liver cancer screening programs in underserved areas.

More than a dozen UT Southwestern researchers received grants in the latest round of funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 to create a $3 billion cancer-fighting fund.

UTSW received the largest portion of the $73.5 million doled out. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, considered one of the nation's top treatment centers, pulled in more than $22 million in grants.

"UT Southwestern cancer researchers are continually seeking better ways to diagnose and treat cancer, and these grants propel this important work forward," said Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga, director of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a prepared statement.

UTSW will use $8 million to recruit star researchers from out of state or create tenure-track faculty positions to keep them here. Simmons Cancer Center is one of the National Cancer Insitute's 30 research centers designated to lead clinical trials. Researchers being recruited are:

  • Dr. Yujin Hoshida from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York($4 million).
  • Dr. Wen Jiang from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center ($2 million).
  • Zhenyu Zhong from the University of California, San Diego ($2 million).

CPRIT grants also will fund a lung cancer screening and tobacco-cessation program at Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth, which serves Tarrant and 35 other counties, and a mobile screening initiative for liver cancer. Texas has one of the highest liver cancer rates in the nation.

But most of the money will go toward academic research. Among the main areas being studied by UTSW researchers are:

Breast cancer: $2.397 million

Dr. Vlad Zaha, an assistant professor of internal medicine, will study methods for early detection of heart disease resulting from a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. 

Kidney cancer: $2 million

Two grants were awarded to Dr. James Brugarolas, director of UTSW's kidney cancer program and a professor of internal medicine, to focus on kidney cancers affecting adults and adolescents. 

Brain cancer: $1.2 million

Dr. Robert Bachoo, an associate professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics, will study one of the most challenging tumors to treat: pediatric brain cancer. 

Blood cancer: $1.2 million

Dr. Stephen Skapek, chief of pediatric hematology-oncology, will study the most common soft tissue cancer in children. Only about 1 in 5 children survive for three years, and this poor outlook has not improved despite many attempts to intensify chemotherapy and use new agents. 

UTSW has received $338 million from CPRIT. In all, the agency has awarded $1.95 billion. These Texas institutions received more than $1 million in this funding round:

  • UT Southwestern: $27,827,022
  • M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: $22,283,004
  • UT Health Science Center at Houston: $4 million
  • Texas Tech University: $3,849,260
  • Texas A&M University: $3,596,596
  • Baylor College of Medicine: $3,568,639
  • UT-Austin: $3,102,048
  • University of Houston: $1,985,037
  • Methodist Hospital Research Institute: $1,199,617
 

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Gala Celebrates Sweet Stories of Survival

April 01, 2018 - Park Cities People

Twenty-two pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 to 15, will model fashions by Dillard’s and be escorted by celebrities. (Courtesy photos)

When celebrating 30 years of sweet smiles, styles, and stories of survival in a candy-themed wonderland, some young Children’s Cancer Fund Gala models can’t help but think about the food.

“I am very excited to participate in the gala, because I get to cheat on my diet and help other kids with cancer,” 8-year-old Liam Moon said.

The Robert S. Hyer Elementary second grader and 21 other pediatric cancer patients, ages 5 to 15, will model fashions by Dillard’s during the annual event, which is expected to raise more than $1 million to support research and treatment programs at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated over $8 million to the childhood cancer cause.

“This night is all about the kids,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF executive director of development. “They spend the day getting runway ready and reuniting with their friends backstage, and when the spotlight comes on, you will see some of the sweetest smiles.”

Returning honorary gala co-chairs Roger Staubach, in his 30th year with the gala, and Troy Aikman, in his 21st year, will join other celebrities and sponsors as runway escorts for the young models.

Liam, who enjoys Legos, video games, and all things Star Wars, identifies Dr. Dale Swift as his hero, because “he saved my life.”

Liam Moon. (Courtesy photo)

In March 2017, Liam was diagnosed with an inoperable but treatable brain tumor. He had brain surgery to manage a side effect of the tumor and completed radiation. In October, he had to repeat the brain surgery.

His family is waiting to see how his tumor responds to the radiation and is hoping for no new growth. Parents Laura and William Moon said they are proud of how their son completed five weeks of daily radiation without using anesthesia, which required him to be completely still.

“However, every night, he would cry himself to sleep because it was so hard, and he would say he couldn’t possibly do it again,” Laura Moon said. “But then the next day he would get up and do it all again.”

Find Liam’s personal fundraising page at childrenscancerfund.com/liammoon.

He participates in two sports: rock climbing and American Ninja Warrior, and his New Year’s resolution is to grow big muscles. At school, he excels in math and reading, and when he grows up, he wants to be a police officer.

His mother recalled how he recently came home from school with an assignment on perseverance, but was briefly stumped when he had to think of an example of when he had persevered.

“My husband and I stared at each other with wide eyes, thinking back to the brain surgeries, activity restrictions, and all of the radiation,” she said. “After some thought, he said, ‘Well, I did have to work really hard to get over the warped wall obstacle at ninja warrior. I’ll write about that.’ Kids are amazingly resilient.”


30th Gala

What: The Children’s Cancer Fund’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer.
When: 6 p.m. April 27
Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas
Tickets: $300 per person or $2,750 for a table of 10
Contact: 972-664-1450

 

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Hyundai Hope On Wheels Surpasses $145 Million To Research Celebrating Its 20th Year In The Fight To End Childhood Cancer

March 29, 2018 - PR Newswire

The organization announces $15 million in new grant winners at the New York International Auto Show as part of Hyundai's longstanding support to pediatric cancer.

Today, Hyundai Hope On Wheels® (HHOW), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, celebrates its 20th year in the fight against pediatric cancer and announces plans to exceed $145 milliontoward pediatric cancer research. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, HHOW will host its annual launch event at the New York International Auto Show to recognize the grant award-winning institutions, doctors, and children affected by pediatric cancer. The campaign theme for this year is: 20 years of saving lives and creating hope, in the fight to end childhood cancer. HHOW also introduces two new 2018 National Youth Ambassadors: Elizabeth Blair (11) and Carter Gates (12). The launch event is hosted by awarding winning journalist and multimedia personality Soledad O'Brien, and special musical performances by Broadway's Betsy Wolfe, Alton Fitzgerald White and the Broadway Youth Ensemble. This annual event takes place in conjunction with the preview night of the New York International Auto Show in the Jacob Javits Center at the Hyundai booth on Thursday, March 29th at 6:30 PM.

Begun in 1998 by Hyundai and its U.S. dealers, HHOW is one of the longest continuously running CSR initiatives in the auto industry and is dedicated to helping kids fight cancer. The program was begun in the Boston, MA area and quickly traveled to support children's hospital throughout the U.S. with research grants to help find cures and to improve care for children fighting cancer.

"The fight to end childhood cancer remains a top priority for HHOW. Because of research, 80% of those kids can be cured. However, even one child who loses his/her battle is far too many," says Brian Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Hyundai Motor America. "For 20 years, Hyundai and its dealers have dedicated their mission to saving lives and creating hope. We want children to know that Hyundai is on their side."

Funding Research to Find A Cure

In 2018, fifty-three (53) new institutions will receive a combined $15 million in pediatric cancer research grants. HHOW offers pediatric cancer research grants for Children's Oncology of America member institutions in the U.S. The grant winners are chosen by a peer-reviewed and competitive selection process. There are five HHOW grant categories: Impact Grant ($100,000), Young Investigator Grant ($200,000), Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant ($300,000), Hyundai Quantum Grant ($1 million) and the new Quantum Collaboration Grant ($2.5 million). Applications are graded by a panel of scientific reviewers, for their innovation and potential to increase discovery.

Hope Is Always Worth Fighting For

HHOW is committed to increasing awareness and celebrating the lives of child cancer survivors. Kids who fight cancer are brave, courageous and represent hope. They often go devastating treatments on their road to cure. Many continue with life-long health related issues as a consequence of cure. Our goal is to help kids not only survive, but to ensure these kids thrive in their lives after the disease. 

This year, we are pleased to welcome two new National Youth Ambassadors. Elizabeth Blair, 11 years old, is from Phoenix, AZ. Carter Gates is 12 years old, from Colorado Springs, CO. These two incredible pediatric cancer survivors will travel the country for the next two years sharing their message of hope. They not only fought pediatric cancer, but they continue to win in life. Click this video to learn more about Elizabeth and Carter.

Celebrities Give A Hand to Hope

Each year, HHOW names one or more celebrities joins us as a part of our annual New York launch event. This year, we are proud to welcome back for a second year renowned multimedia personality and award winning journalist Ms. Soledad O'Brien, to host the event. Additionally, Broadway superstars Betsy Wolfe and Alton Fitzgerald White will provide special musical performance. The Broadway Youth Ensemble will join the festivities, with a number of Broadway inspired show tunes to entertain the audience.

Communication Plan

  • HHOW launches with an engaging multimedia communications plan to increase awareness to the cause, includes:
  • Times Square Takeover, pop-up awareness event along Broadway & W 44th Street to engage the public in spreading awareness for pediatric cancer.
  • Announcement of 2 new HHOW National Youth Ambassadors who will travel the country sharing their cancer survivor story.
  • Annual kick-off event celebrating 20th anniversary during the New York International Auto Show
  • National Satellite Media Tour
  • Child cancer-survivor and grant winning institutions videos featured on website and YouTube.
  • A re-designed website, HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org, where visitors can view stories of child cancer-survivors, read about funded research, or post a message of hope for a family.

"A key priority for Hyundai dealers is to give back to society and to make sure children have the best possible future for success. We believe that future should be in a world that is free from pediatric cancer," says Scott Fink, Board Chair and Hyundai dealer owner, Hyundai of New Port Richey. "We know that progress has been made in finding cures for pediatric cancer. With HHOW grants over the past 20 years, innovative therapies and new treatments have been developed. The Hyundai dealers' across the nation are proud to support this important cause. But our work is not over, and you can count on the Hyundai dealers to remain committed to this fight for as long as it takes."

HHOW Grants Tour & Youth Ambassadors
The HHOW Grants Tour is a nationwide effort from April to October to travel the country presenting grant checks ranging from $100,000 to $2.5 million to selected children's hospitals and institution. At each event, we conduct our signature handprint ceremony, at which kids get to put their hands in paint and place it on the HHOW hero vehicle, 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe. These color handprints represent the dreams, journey and hopes of kids fighting cancer. They allow kids from across the nation to join hands in with a common purpose to fight this dreaded disease. Each doctor-grant recipient receives HHOW lab coat and is named a Hyundai Scholar.

Our goal is to #Endchildhoodcancer
Approximately 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. This year HHOW travels the nation in a Hyundai Santa Fe – the official hope vehicle, to the children's hospital grant winners. The vehicle serves as a canvas for hope, covered with handprints collected from children across the country battling this disease. In September, National Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, HHOW will announce a series of events across the nation to bring greater awareness about the issue.  Supporters and followers of HHOW are invited to post photos or messages on social media using hashtag #EndChildhoodCancer.

For more information about Hyundai Hope On Wheels and to view a list of our 2018 Hope On Wheels grant winners, please visit www.hyundaihopeonwheels.org/research.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at facebook.com/HyundaiHopeOnWheelstwitter.com/HopeOnWheels or instagram.com/HyundaiHopeOnWheels

ABOUT HYUNDAI HOPE ON WHEELS

Hyundai Hope On Wheels® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer. Launched in 1998, Hyundai Hope On Wheels provides grants to eligible institutions nationwide that are pursuing life-saving research and innovative treatments for the disease. HHOW is one of the largest non-profit funders of pediatric cancer research in the country, and primary funding for Hyundai Hope On Wheels comes from Hyundai Motor America and its more than 835 U.S. dealers. Since its inception, Hyundai Hope On Wheels has awarded more than $130 million towards childhood cancer research in pursuit of a cure.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through 835 dealerships nationwide. All new Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes a 5-year/60,000-mile fully-transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.

For more details on Hyundai Assurance, please visit www.HyundaiAssurance.com.

2018 Hyundai Hope On Wheels Grant Winners

Hope Scholar Winners - $300,000 each
Children's Hospital, Los Angeles- Los Angeles, CA
Children's Hospital Colorado – Denver, Co
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Incorporated – Atlanta, GA
Children's Health - UT Southwestern Medical Center/Children's Medical Center – Dallas, TX
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Boston, MA
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – Seattle, WA
Johns Hopkins University-School of Medicine – Baltimore, MD
Montefiore Medical Center – Bronx, NY
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center – New York, NY
New York University School of Medicine – New York, NY
Regents of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities – Minneapolis, MN
Stanford University - Stanford, CA
Texas Children's Hospital – Houston, TX
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
The University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital – Columbus, OH

Young Investigator Winners - $200,000 each
Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children – Wilmington, DE
Children's Hospital, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
Children's Hospital Colorado – Aurora, CO
Children's Research Institute (CNMC) – Washington, D.C.
Children's Health - UT Southwestern Medical Center/Children's Medical Center – Dallas, TX
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Boston, MA
Emory University – Atlanta, GA
Johns Hopkins University-School of Medicine – Baltimore, MD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) – New York, NY
Rady Children's Hospital Foundation - San Diego – San Diego, CA
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital – Columbus, OH
University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – Houston, TX
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (DBA University Hospitals Case Medical Center) – Cleveland, OH

Quantum Collaboration Winner - $2,500,000 each
Columbia University Medical Center – New York, NY

Quantum Award Winners - $1,000,000 each
Intermountain Healthcare Foundation – Salt Lake City, UT
Mayo Clinic. – Rochester, MN
St. Louis Children's Hospital Washington University – St. Louis, MO

 

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CPRIT Awards Investigators $16 Million for Cancer Therapy Research

March 29, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga is Director of UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of just 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation and the only one in North Texas.

More than a dozen UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center researchers received awards from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for research into breast, prostate, brain, kidney, liver, and pediatric cancers.

In addition, the more than $27 million in total awards from CPRIT includes research for innovative ways to restore immunity against cancer, to combat cancer therapy resistance, and to develop nanosensor technologies to illuminate cancer tissues to improve cancer staging, along with outreach cancer screening programs to underserved communities.

“UT Southwestern cancer researchers are continually seeking better ways to diagnose and treat cancer, and these grants propel this important work forward,” said Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga, Director of UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of just 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. “Texas taxpayers’ support of CPRIT furthers research by UT Southwestern basic scientists, physician-scientists, and clinical investigators to learn more about how cancer occurs, to develop improved cancer therapies, and to step up prevention efforts.”

Among other efforts, these grants fund research on the role played by extra chromosomes in the development of liver cancer, continue work on a way to illuminate cancer, and support hepatitis C screening among baby boomers, said Dr. Arteaga, Associate Dean of Oncology Programs and who holds The Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology.

CPRIT Individual Investigator Awards to UT Southwestern researchers are:

Breast Cancer: $2.3 million

Dr. Vlad Zaha, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, will study methods for early detection of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity – heart disease resulting from a chemotherapeutic drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. The life-time risk of heart failure increases with increasing cumulative doses of anthracyclines, but there is no “safe dose” threshold for cardiotoxicity. This risk is severely amplified by underlying cardiovascular risk factors in cancer survivors. UT Southwestern researchers have extensive expertise in advanced investigations of heart metabolism and are the first in the United States to apply this novel methodology for heart studies. ($2,397,204)

Kidney Cancer: $2 million

Two grants were awarded to Dr. James Brugarolas, Director of the Simmons Cancer Center’s Kidney Cancer Program and Professor of Internal Medicine, one focusing on adult kidney cancer and the second on a form of kidney cancer that affects adolescents. Building upon their pioneering discoveries leading to the first genetic classification of kidney cancer (clear cell renal cell carcinoma), the investigators will focus on the most aggressive subtype of kidney cancer they discovered, which is characterized by inactivation of two genes: BAP1 and PBRM1. In a second study, the researchers will model an aggressive type of kidney cancer that affects adolescents and has no proven treatment, translocation carcinomas. By generating the first faithful animal model of translocation carcinoma, the investigators hope to open the door for new treatments.

Dr. Brugarolas holds the Sherry Wigley Crow Cancer Research Endowed Chair in Honor of Robert Lewis Kirby, M.D. ($1,155,128 and $897,633)

Brain Cancer: $1.2 million

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute’s Dr. Robert Bachoo, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Internal Medicine will study metabolic regulation of pediatric glioma. Pediatric brain cancer is among the most challenging tumors to treat, with short survival times despite intense multimodality treatment. While progress has been made in cataloguing the genetic changes associated with these aggressive tumors there is no direct link between how individual mutations impact tumor cell growth. This project will focus on understanding how specific mutations influence pediatric brain tumor metabolism with the goal of identifying possible therapeutic vulnerabilities. ($1,200,000)

Dr. Bachoo holds the Miller Family Professorship in Neuro‐Oncology

Blood Cancer: $1.2 million

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Stephen Skapek, Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, will study rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. Only about 1 in 5 children with metastatic or recurrent disease survive for three years, and this poor outlook has not improved despite many attempts to intensify chemotherapy and use new agents. Dr. Skapek studied over 20,000 genes in rhabdomyosarcoma and identified 33 as possible drivers or tumor suppressors. Researchers hope to determine whether they could be used as biomarkers and targets for possible therapies. ($1,193,363)

Dr. Skapek holds the Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research

HPV

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Cheng-Ming Chiang, Professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, will examine the molecular action of chemical inhibitors that block human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA replication, with the goal of suppressing HPV-associated cancers. HPV-induced cervical cancer is a leading cause of death in women, and HPV is causally associated with some oral cancers developed via sexual contact and found mostly in men.  ($900,000)

Selectively Killing Cancer Cells

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Yuh Min Chook, Professor of Pharmacology and Biophysics, will study mechanisms of nuclear export in cancer with the goal of selectively killing cancer cells. Many tumor suppressors are inappropriately transported by the nuclear export receptor CRM1, resulting in survival advantage for cancer cells. The research will investigate the biology behind this mechanism to develop strategies to improve drug tolerability and effectiveness in patients. ($900,000)

Dr. Chook holds the Alfred and Mabel Gilman Chair in Molecular Pharmacology.

Prostate Cancer

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Dean Sherry, Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center and Professor of Radiology, will study an MRI detection method for reduced levels of zinc ions as a biomarker for prostate cancer. It is well-known that the prostate contains the highest levels of zinc in the human body and that zinc levels fall as prostate cells become malignant, making zinc an attractive biomarker for detection and evaluation of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer accounts for 33 percent of all newly diagnosed malignancies and is the second most common cause of death among men in the United States. ($900,000)

Breast Cancer

Dr. Elena Vinogradov, Assistant Professor of Radiology and with the Advanced Imaging Research Center, is developing new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology capable of detecting early biochemical changes in breast cancer. The new MRI technology – chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) – could lead to a reduction in biopsies and assist with tumor therapy prediction, Dr. Vinogradov said. Since no injections are required and only software modifications are needed, the results of this research could have immediate impact on the diagnosis and management of thousands of breast cancer patients. ($900,000)

Blood Cancer

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Jian Xu, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and with Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), will seek to identify epigenetic and metabolic vulnerabilities for myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) blood cancers that progress from chronic to acute disease, and to develop therapies to eradicate cancer-initiating cells. A lack of understanding of the molecular processes involved has been a major impediment for developing target-based therapies to selectively eliminate cancer stem cells that could prevent disease progression or relapse. MPNs are progressive blood cancers that can strike anyone at any age and that have no cure. ($900,000)

Cancer Immunology

Dr. Nan Yan, Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology, will study how cancer cells suppress innate immunity with the goal of designing drugs that restore the innate immune response to cancer. Researchers recently discovered that cancer cells turn on genes that block innate immune response and turn off genes that drive

innate immune response. His lab will study how these innate immune genes work

inside of cancer cells, how they know or “sense” a cell becomes a cancer cell, and how

they inhibit cancer cell growth. Researchers hope the approach will restore the full capacity of the immune system to fight against cancer. ($900,000)

Dr. Yan is the Rita C. and William P. Clements, Jr. Scholar in Medical Research.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Chengcheng “Alec” Zhang, Associate Professor of Physiology, is developing fasting and fasting-mimicking strategies for treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of cancer in children, which also occurs in adults. Although treatment of pediatric ALL is highly effective, a sizeable number of patients are nonresponders, and the prognosis for adult ALL patients is significantly worse than for pediatric ALL patients. This research builds on research published in Nature Medicine that found that intermittent fasting inhibits ALL development in mouse models, and is a step toward clinical trials. ($900,000)

Dr. Zhang holds the Hortense L. and Morton H. Sanger Professorship in Oncology.

Liver Cancer

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Hao Zhu, Assistant Professor in the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, will study liver cell polyploidy to understand the impact of chromosome number on liver cancer development. Polyploid cells have more than the usual two sets of chromosomes, and are hypothesized to protect the liver from getting cancer. The project aims to test therapeutic strategies inspired by this naturally occurring phenomenon. If successful, it will provide preclinical validation of a strategy to prevent the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Texas maintains the second-highest incidence rate for HCC in the nation at 9.1 per 100,000 people and HCC is the fastest growing cancer in the state. ($900,000)

Bone/Breast Cancer

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Yihong Wan, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, is working to identify new regulators of metastatic bone disease, including a novel dual suppressor, which could be applicable to bone and breast cancer. ($898,672)

Dr. Wan holds the Lawrence G. Raisz Professorship in Bone Cell Research.

Head and Neck Cancer

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Jinming Gao, Professor of Otolaryngology and Pharmacology, and Dr. Baran Sumer, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, are developing positron emission tomography (PET) tracers to detect cancer-involved lymph nodes. Lymph node metastasis is an important determinant of survival for many solid cancers. Current methods require nodal dissections that result in significant morbidity, including shoulder dysfunction and pain in head and neck patients, and lymphedema in breast cancer patients. Dr. Gao and Dr. Sumer are working on PET-sensitive pH threshold sensors targeting tumor acidosis for non-invasive staging of nodal metastasis with successful preliminary data in mouse tumor models.  ($885,684)

Dr. Gao holds the Robert B. and Virginia Payne Professorship in Oncology

Lung/Breast/Prostate/Kidney Cancers

Simmons Cancer Center’s Dr. Joseph Ready, Professor of Biochemistry, will study tumor-activated enzyme inhibitors for the treatment of cancer. Traditional chemotherapies injure both cancer cells and normal cells. Dr. Ready’s lab is developing compounds that are potent enzyme inhibitors, which block tumor growth and are less toxic than conventional inhibitors. Analysis of human tumor samples indicates that 15-25 percent of lung, breast, prostate, and clear cell renal cell cancer patients could benefit from this approach. ($607,831)

Dr. Ready holds the Bonnie Bell Harding Professorship in Biochemistry. 

CPRIT awards also included grants totaling $8 million to recruit leading cancer scientists to UT Southwestern, which is recognizing its 75th anniversary this year. The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site.

CPRIT, established in 2007, has the goal of bringing world-class research and cancer-prevention efforts to Texas. To date, CPRIT has awarded grants totaling $1.95 billion and has reached every county in Texas. The current round of CPRIT awards comprises 49 academic research grants and eight prevention grants totaling more than $73 million. In total, UT Southwestern has been awarded $338 million by CPRIT since the agency began making awards.

 

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Pediatric Cancer Drug Shows 93 Percent Response Rate

March 29, 2018

A first-of-its-kind drug targeting a fused gene found in many types of cancer was effective in 93 percent of pediatric patients tested, researchers at UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center announced.

Most cancer drugs are targeted to specific organs or locations in the body. Larotrectinib is the first cancer drug to receive FDA breakthrough therapy designation for patients with a specific fusion of two genes in the cancer cell, no matter what cancer type. The research appears in The Lancet Oncology.

Briana Ayala, left, with her oncologist, Dr. Ted Laetsch. Dr. Laetsch had Briana’s tumor tested for a TRK fusion and then successfully treated her with larotrectinib.

“In some cancers, a part of the TRK gene has become attached to another gene, which is called a fusion. When this occurs, it leads to the TRK gene being turned on when it’s not supposed to be and that causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. What’s unique about the drug is it is very selective; it only blocks TRKreceptors,” said lead author Dr. Ted Laetsch, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Larotrectinib, targets TRK fusions, which can occur in many types of cancer. While the TRK fusions occur in only a small percentage of common adult cancers, they occur frequently in some rare pediatric cancers, such as infantile fibrosarcoma, cellular congenital mesoblastic nephroma, and papillary thyroid cancer, said Dr. Laetsch, who leads the Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP) in the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health in Dallas.

“Every patient with a TRK fusion-positive solid tumor treated on this study had their tumor shrink. The nearly universal response rate seen with larotrectinib is unprecedented,” Dr. Laetsch said.

Among them was 13-year-old Briana Ayala of El Paso, who aspires to a career in fashion design. In 2016, Briana was found to have a rare tumor in her abdomen wrapped around her aorta, the largest artery in the body.

Surgeons in her hometown said it would be too dangerous to operate, so her family brought Briana to Children’s Health in Dallas, where UT Southwestern Professor of Surgery Dr. Stephen Megison had to remove portions of her aorta while removing most of the tumor.

But the cancer started to grow again and no further treatments were available.

Dr. Laetsch sent her tumor for genetic testing and found that Briana’s cancer had the TRK fusion, meaning the new drug might help.

Briana enrolled in the phase 1 clinical trial of larotrectinib and began taking the drug twice a day. Within weeks her pain and the swelling in her abdomen diminished, and scans showed her tumors had shrunk significantly.

Nearly two years later, Briana is back in school and playing with her dog, Goofy, and the family’s seven parakeets. She’s also been able to pick up her sketch pad and her dreams of a New York City fashion career.

“These are the kind of amazing responses we’ve seen with larotrectinib,” said Dr. Laetsch, “and this is why I’m so excited about it.”

The results of the larotrectinib trial in adult patients – a 75 percent response rate – were published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The TRK-fusion mutation can be present in many types of cancers, including lung, colon, thyroid, and breast cancer, as well as certain pediatric tumors. TRK, short for tropomyosin receptor kinase, is a gene that plays a key role in brain and nervous system development and has a limited role in nervous system functions such as regulating pain in later life.

Larotrectinib belongs to a class of molecules known as kinase inhibitors, which work by cutting back on the enzymatic activity of a key cellular reaction. The selectivity of the drug means it does not cause the severe side effects associated with many traditional cancer treatments, and none of the patients with TRK fusions had to quit the study because of a drug-induced side effect.  

Equally important, the response was long-lasting for most patients. “For some of the targeted drugs in the past, many patients responded initially, but then resistance developed quickly. To date, the response to this drug seems to be durable in most patients,” said Dr. Laetsch, who investigates the use of tumor molecular profiling to guide therapy in UT Southwestern’s Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Division.

A next step in the research is a clinical trial involving a similar drug for those patients who developed resistance. Dr. Laetsch will be the national leader for that clinical trial in children.

The larotrectinib research was supported by Loxo Oncology Inc., the National Institutes of Health, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Dr. Laetsch is a paid consultant for Loxo Oncology Inc.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site. UT Southwestern Medical Center is recognizing its 75th year this year.

 

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UT Southwestern Earns Accreditation From The Adult Congenital Heart Association

March 28, 2018 - UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern and Children’s Health received accreditation from the national Adult Congenital Heart Association.

In recognition of its expertise in serving adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s HealthSM have received accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a nationwide organization focused on connecting patients, family members and healthcare providers to form a community of support and network of experts with knowledge of congenital heart disease.   

Individuals with CHD, the most common birth defect diagnosed in one in 100 births, are living longer. There are now 1.4 million adults in the U.S. living with one of the many different types of congenital heart defects that range among simple, moderate, and complex.

Dr. Beth Brickner, Co-Director of UT Southwestern’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, Professor of Internal Medicine, and holder of the Charles B. Mullins, M.D. Professorship in Clinical Practice and Teaching in Cardiology.

“Our Adult Congenital Heart Disease team was thrilled to receive news of our certification as a comprehensive care center, after undergoing a very thorough review of our program,” said Dr. Beth Brickner, Co-Director of UT Southwestern’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, Professor of Internal Medicine, and holder of the Charles B. Mullins, M.D. Professorship in Clinical Practice and Teaching in Cardiology. “Our ACHD program involves a very strong collaboration between UT Southwestern and Children’s Health and is a team effort with multiple care providers, including both adult and pediatric cardiologists (including six board-certified ACHD cardiologists), cardiac and pediatric cardiac surgeons, and multiple other specialists working together in order to meet all of a patient’s care needs throughout their life. This includes diagnostic testing, interventional procedures, congenital heart surgery, pregnancy counseling and care, and ongoing outpatient care to monitor and manage patients and help them deal with the challenges they may face as a result of their congenital heart defect.”

UT Southwestern and Children’s Health received accreditation by meeting ACHA’s criteria, which includes medical services and personnel requirements, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over a number of years through a collaboration with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and ACHD patients.

“There are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD,” said Mark Roeder, President and CEO of ACHA.  “Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease.Coordination of care is key, and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

Sixteen additional centers have earned the ACHA ACHD Accredited Comprehensive Care Center designation:

  • Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Adult Congenital Heart Program, Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
  • Colorado Adult and Teen Congenital Heart (CATCH) Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital (Aurora, CO)
  • Memorial Regional Hospital/Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital ACHD Center (Hollywood, FL)
  • Boston Adult Congenital Heart (BACH) and Pulmonary Hypertension Program (Boston, MA)
  • University of Michigan Adult Congenital Heart Program (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Washington University Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (St. Louis, MO)
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine (Omaha, NE)
  • NYU Langone Health Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (New York, NY)
  • Cincinnati Children's Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (CCHMC) (Cincinnati, OH)
  • COACH: Columbus Ohio Adult Congenital Heart Disease & Pulmonary Hypertension Program (Columbus, OH)
  • Medical University of South Carolina Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (Charleston, SC)
  • Texas Children’s Hospital Adult Congenital Heart Program (Houston, TX)
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at University of Washington & Seattle Children’s Hospital (Seattle, WA)
  • Providence Adult and Teen Congenital Heart Program (PATCH) (Spokane, WA)
  • Wisconsin Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (WAtCH) at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI)
 

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UTSW Study Helps Explain Launch Switch For Most Common Malignant Pediatric Brain Tumor

March 28, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Grayscale immunofluorescence image of granule progenitor marker Pax6 of mouse embryonic day 16.5 cerebellum from conditional knockout of the G-protein-coupled receptor, Gpr161, arranged in a fourfold symmetric pattern (anterior to the left for bottom right image). Image constructed by Dr. Issei Shimada and Dr. John Shelton.

A delicate balance during brain development could have profound implications for understanding and treating medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor affecting children.

Medulloblastoma of the Sonic Hedgehog subtype can occur at any age, but it is most often seen in children. When not fatal, the disease is marked by severe neurocognitive disabilities. How Sonic Hedgehog subtype tumors develop has been poorly understood, said Dr. Saikat Mukhopadhyay, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern and senior author of a recent study featured on the cover of Cell Reports. By detailing the mechanisms underlying development of these tumors, these findings could lead to new treatments, noted Dr. Mukhopadhyay, a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.

Medulloblastomas originate in the cerebellum, an area at the skull’s base that regulates motor control, posture, and balance. The Sonic Hedgehog subtype of medulloblastoma occurs when too many of a particular brain cell type – granule cells – are made. Granule cells make up most of the cerebellum and constitute as much as 80 percent of all brain neurons. During normal development, many granule cells are made when other nearby cells release the protein Sonic Hedgehog. However, some granule cells are made in the cerebellum even before Sonic Hedgehog is released, which led the researchers to investigate other factors that regulate early granule cell production.

“We modeled the Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma in mice by deleting a gene for a G protein-coupled receptor called Gpr161 that was not known to be involved in this tumor,” said first author Dr. Issei Shimada, Assistant Instructor in Cell Biology. “Interestingly, we found that in the absence of Gpr161, which actively represses the downstream pathway, the granule cells proliferate even before Sonic Hedgehog is secreted.”

Dr. Mukhopadhyay added, “Repression of the downstream pathway in the absence of Sonic Hedgehog is as important as activation in its presence. Bottom line: The granule cell behaves like a car on a downhill slope with the hand brake on. Loss of the hand brake is as damaging as the accelerator being pressed too hard.”

This means that Gpr161 acts as a tumor suppressor for Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastomas by preventing too many granule cells from being made.

Dr. Saikat Mukhopadhyay

Medulloblastomas account for 15 to 20 percent of all pediatric brain tumors, according to the National Institutes of Health. While they are most commonly diagnosed in children between ages 3 and 8, they can be seen in all age groups. About 350 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

In 2017, a survey of the National Cancer Database tracked 4,032 patients with medulloblastomas. Of these, 1,300 were age 18 or younger and received chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The median age was 8.4 years, and the group’s five-year survival rate was 79 percent.

Only one drug, vismodegib, currently targets the upstream Sonic Hedgehog pathway for treating these pediatric tumors, Dr. Mukhopadhyay said. Now that this work has identified Gpr161 as a tumor suppressor, focusing on Gpr161 might be a new strategy to inhibit progression of tumors that develop resistance to drugs targeting the upstream Sonic Hedgehog pathway, he said.

UT Southwestern team members from Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, Internal Medicine, and Pathology contributed to the study, as did researchers from Children’s Health, UT Dallas, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

 

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With Teen Suicides Up, Doctors Bring Help Straight To Schools

March 26, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Her eyes were downcast and distant. A deep hopelessness imbued her quavering voice.

“I’m ready to go,” she said softly.

Her friend touched her arm reassuringly, offering a string of advice often given to depressed people: Suicide isn’t the answer, get professional help, everything will be fine.

Teenagers participate in a role-play session designed to educate them about depression and suicide. The session is part of a network of programs UT Southwestern is implementing in Texas schools to identify, study, and treat at-risk youth.

“I’m tired of everyone telling me it’ll be OK, because I just don’t feel that way,” the girl retorted bitterly.

The friend hesitated, then looked helplessly at her classmates watching the role-play session unfold at the front of the classroom.

“I don’t really know where to go from there,” the friend acknowledged, as the instructor walked toward the two teenagers to discuss the mock scenario.

The role-playing session is part of a network of education and research programs UT Southwestern Medical Center is implementing in Texas schools to address a startling rise in teen depression and suicide across the country. By accessing classrooms to identify, study, and treat at-risk youth, experts are raising awareness in a vulnerable age group while obtaining critical data that could change the paradigm of combatting mental illness.

Besides helping students cope, the Risk and Resilience Network will assist scientists in a range of clinical endeavors, from developing blood and brain tests for diagnosis to identifying effective treatments and interventions.

“There is an unfortunate misperception that if you talk to teenagers about depression, they’ll get depressed. We have to help people understand: A don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy for depression and bipolar disorder is not effective,” said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, founding Director of UT Southwestern’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care (CDRC), a cornerstone of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

‘Cutting-edge research’

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, right, is implementing a network of programs in Texas schools to identify, study, and treat teenagers at risk for depression. Besides educating students on mental health, the Risk and Resilience Network will assist scientists in a range of clinical endeavors, from developing blood and brain tests for diagnosis to identifying effective treatments and interventions.

The network has been implemented across North Texas, from sprawling public school districts to smaller private institutions and youth organizations. These schools have access to several education and research programs in and outside the classroom, including a 10-year study of 1,500 participants (ages 10-24) that will uncover factors that reduce the risk of developing mood or anxiety disorders.

Dr. Trivedi said the research will expand the limited understanding scientists have about how to build resilience to these disorders by analyzing socio-demographic, lifestyle, clinical, psychological, and neurobiological factors. Eventually these data will help with early intervention and reduce the risk of serious mental illness.

The network also seeks to help pediatricians follow new national guidelines that call for all teenagers to be screened for depression. The VitalSign6 initiative equips these doctors and family practitioners with mental health-screening tools and educates them on best practices.

“Early detection, rapid intervention, cutting-edge research, and prevention are key,” said Dr. Trivedi, who led the STAR*Dstudies that established widely accepted treatment guidelines for depressed patients. “Unlike a lot of other major chronic diseases, these illnesses start early – in middle school and early high school. If we can intervene at that point, then we can have better outcomes.”

In the classroom

The education arm of the network includes a mental health program widely used in Europe to help adolescents cope with mood and anxiety issues. The Youth Aware of Mental Health(YAM) program has already drawn interest from some of Texas’ largest school districts and continues to expand.

A team of trained UT Southwestern facilitators, under the supervision of a psychologist, is deployed to classrooms for five one-hour sessions, providing knowledge on mental health and suicide prevention to all students. YAM includes a research component in which depression-screening questionnaires are given to students before and after the program and anonymously entered into a database for analysis.

A startling trend

The Risk and Resilience Network comes at a critical time for the field of mental health, which has seen a sharp rise in cases of depression and suicide among adolescents. A 2016 study found that the rate of adolescents in the U.S. who reported a major depressive episode within the previous year rose to 11.3 percent in 2014, a 37 percent increase from 2005. A separate study published in 2016 found that suicide rates among girls ages 10-14 tripled from 1999-2014.

The issue resonates strongly in the small suburban Dallas school district of Lovejoy, where high school senior Bradley Davis has organized charity runs for suicide prevention after two friends committed suicide in consecutive years.

The losses struck him hard, in part because he didn’t notice signs of distress in either person.

‘There’s definitely a stigma. People don’t like to acknowledge it, especially the people who are depressed. They feel embarrassed and don’t want to talk.’ – Bradley Davis, senior at Lovejoy High School

Lovejoy is striving to change that mindset by enrolling its ninth-grade classes in the network. And based on parent feedback and the personal stories shared with school counselors, the district is hoping to soon expand its participation into middle school classes, said Sancy Fuller, Executive Director of Special Education and Academic Support at Lovejoy Independent School District.

“There is a need,” said Ms. Fuller, adding that students have gravitated mostly toward the network’s interactive and role-playing sessions. “We’re trying to be proactive, as opposed to waiting and having someone end up in a crisis that we potentially could have avoided.”

Plano Independent School District, one of Texas’ larger districts with nearly 55,000 students, also enrolled in the network this school year after enduring student suicides. But unlike most districts, Plano high schools are offering the program to all grade levels, from freshmen to seniors.

“I would love to see everyone exposed to this kind of learning because tragedy impacts us in powerful ways,” said Jana Hancock, Plano ISD’s Director of Guidance and Education Services.

She said her counselors have seen a dramatic increase in students either self-reporting their depression or sharing concerns about friends. “And that’s what we want from our students,” she said. “Students will usually talk to each other first, so it’s up to them to let us know when there’s a problem.”

Frontline efforts

UT Southwestern’s experts are on the frontline of this effort, giving lectures about mental health and meeting with students in classrooms. They also hold outreach events for parents to learn about other network programs available to their children.

Students not only acquire knowledge about mental health but also have occasionally sought help on their own after recognizing risk factors, said Dr. Jennifer Hughes, a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry who leads the YAM initiative in schools.

She recalled one girl who approached her after a session because she was worried about how stress from home life and school were affecting her well-being. Dr. Hughes suggested she meet with her school counselor and walked her there for introductions. The following week, the girl thanked Dr. Hughes and described how that initial meeting set her on the path to much-needed therapy.

“That was an example of the program doing exactly what it was intended to do – getting students to talk about these things and seek out possible solutions,” Dr. Hughes said.

Breaking the stigma

The network is in its second school year and is still expanding as more mental-health experts are trained to help schools address the issue of depression and suicide.

Dr. Trivedi expects the data obtained through the first few years will enable his team to predict risk and resilience among teens through their associated biomedical research.

“For every teen who commits suicide, there are so many who are suffering equally. The earlier we can screen and identify the kids who need help, the better chance they have in the long term,” said Dr. Trivedi, Professor of Psychiatry who holds the Betty Jo Hay Distinguished Chair in Mental Health and the Julie K. Hersh Chair for Depression Research and Clinical Care.


Q&A: Can school outreach help curb teen depression?

UT Southwestern Medical Center is implementing a network of mental-health programs in Texas schools to address a startling rise in teen depression and suicide across the country. The Risk and Resilience Network is a rare example of a major medical institution accessing schools to identify, study, and treat at-risk youth.

Why are mood disorders a pressing issue in U.S. schools?

The U.S. has seen a sharp rise in cases of depression and suicide among adolescents. A 2016 study found that the rate of adolescents in the U.S. who reported a major depressive episode within the previous year rose to 11.3 percent in 2014, a 37 percent increase from 2005. A separate study published in 2016 found that suicide rates among girls ages 10-14 tripled from 1999-2014.

How does the network work?

School districts that join the network have students participate in the Youth Aware of Mental Health program. A team of trained UT Southwestern facilitators, under the supervision of a psychologist, deploy to classrooms for five one-hour sessions, providing lectures and leading interactive discussions on mental health and suicide. UT Southwestern holds informational events at these campuses to educate parents about other network programs available to students who volunteer. These include long-term studies addressing which factors drive depression, as well as an outpatient program that focuses on reducing risk of suicidal thoughts.

What are the primary goals of the Risk and Resilience Network?

The network aims to improve detection, intervention, and prevention of mood disorders through education and research. School outreach will create awareness about mental health among middle school and high school students, regardless of whether they are experiencing major depression or anxiety. Because mood disorders often begin developing in this age group, doctors hope early intervention can help students’ long-term prognosis.

Through cutting-edge research, scientists hope to develop blood and brain tests for diagnosis and identify effective treatments and interventions. This research is designed to transform the future of depression treatments and resiliency programs. One example is RAD, Resilience in Adolescent Development, a 10-year study that will enroll 1,500 participants who are at risk to develop depression but have not done so. Researchers will examine whether personal factors such as lifestyle and biology influence a teenager’s ability to resist mood disorders.

How many students will the network reach?

The network is being implemented across North Texas, from sprawling public school districts to smaller private institutions and youth organizations. It is still expanding as more mental-health experts are trained and deployed to campuses. Network leaders say UT Southwestern can become a training center for other entities interested in starting a similar effort in other regions of Texas and beyond.

How can schools or parents enroll students in the network?

Contact Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, who oversees the network at UT Southwestern’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, part of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. You can reach him by emailing Email or calling 214-648-6262.

 

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Symposium Presents Latest in Imaging Applications, Opportunities

March 15, 2018 - UT Southwestern

Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis makes a point during his AIRC symposium presentation on evaluating inborn errors.

Advanced imaging experts from UT Southwestern and elsewhere nationally shared the latest innovations in imaging technology aimed at accelerating biomedical discovery and improved patient care at a recent symposium hosted by the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC).

The event, titled “Imaging Metabolism in Brain Disease,” included sessions on brain cancer, imaging after concussion, genetic errors of metabolism, neurodegeneration, the challenges of neurometabolism, applications of a technology called hyperpolarization that enables improved imaging of molecules, the latest MRI principles and uses as a mechanism for cancer prognosis, as well as guided tours of AIRC facilities.

UT Southwestern’s AIRC and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute collaborated with The National Center for In Vivo Metabolism in hosting the two-day annual symposium. The event provides attendees information on the Center’s latest developments, activities, and training opportunities for researchers on campus and across the UT System.

“Each year, we want to make others aware of what there is and what we can provide, with the intent to use noninvasive imaging along with stable isotopes and radioactive tracers to the benefit of patient care,” said Dr. Craig Malloy, ­Medical Director of the AIRC and Professor of Radiology and Internal Medicine.

In his presentation, Dr. Malloy talked about the four recognized eras of metabolic imaging and suggested the specialty was entering a fifth – high-specificity metabolic imaging. “We need better technologies to help solve issues like obesity and Type 2 diabetes through their metabolic pathways, and we’re starting to see that emerge,” he told symposium attendees.

This year, the speakers and session moderators included faculty and imaging leaders from UT Southwestern, UT Dallas, Yale University, UC San Francisco, Johns Hopkins University, UC San Diego, the Mayo Clinic, Loma Linda University, and Washington, D.C.-based Children’s National Health System.

“Bringing so many brilliant people together in and of itself is energizing,” said Dr. A. Dean Sherry, AIRC Director. “It is exciting to see so many imaging applications that detect specific biological processes in cells. This provides new insights into disease that anatomical imaging simply does not provide. Seeing flux [the rate of diffusion or transport of a substance across a permeable membrane] through metabolic pathways in cells is not only exciting but also powerful.”

Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, who presented “Metabolic Outliers in Humans: Analysis of Inborn Errors in the -Omics Era” at the symposium, combines biomedical research with clinical applications in his duties as a Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program, and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern.

“There are more than 400 identified inborn errors, many of which are treatable if their metabolic pathway is understood,” said Dr. DeBerardinis, who also is affiliated with UT Southwestern’s Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition, he is a practicing physician and Division Director of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at Children’s Health.

The Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program at UTSW, Dr. DeBerardinis said, is continuing to work through sequencing and metabolite profiling to identify other outliers using mass spectrometry. The state now routinely screens for more than 30 diseases in newborns, regardless of family histories. “But that’s a small tip of the iceberg. There could be as many as 5,000 genes that regulate metabolism in humans, and this number suggests that many inborn errors remain to be discovered,” he said.

Traumatic brain injuries were discussed in the Concussion sessions, moderated by UT Southwestern’s Dr. Christopher Madden, Associate Vice President and Clinical Director of the O’Donnell Brain Institute and Professor of Neurological Surgery. Dr. Joseph Maldjian, Professor of Radiology and faculty member of the AIRC, presented his latest MRI findings as well as head impact data obtained through sensors installed in youth football helmets. His lab handles large amounts of neuroimaging data through an array of software platforms, and he is one of only a few radiologists to serve as a Principal Investigator of National Institutes of Health-funded studies.

Dr. DeBerardinis, a Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research, holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics at UTSW, and is the Robert L. Moody, Sr. Faculty Scholar at Children’s Health.

Dr. Malloy holds the Richard A. Lange, M.D. Chair in Cardiology.

Dr. Sherry, a Professor of Radiology, also is a Professor of Chemistry at UT Dallas, where he holds the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology.

 

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The Heart Center at Children’s Health Performs 250th Heart Transplant During Program’s 30-Year Anniversary

March 08, 2018

Milestones underscore tradition of innovation in the Heart Center, one of the nation’s 10 largest programs for pediatric heart transplant

The Heart Center at Children’s Health, named one of the country’s top pediatric heart programs by U.S. News & World Report, today announced that it has performed 250 heart transplants in children, one of the largest volumes among hospitals nationwide. The milestone coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Heart Center’s pediatric heart transplant program, which began in 1988.

Children’s Health is the sole pediatric heart transplant facility in North Texas and one of only two in the state—attracting patients from across Texas, as well as surrounding states such as New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Besides hearts, the system is also a major pediatric liver and kidney transplant center, having performed more than 1,300 total organ transplants in children.

“This is a proud moment for the Heart Center as we reflect on the lives transformed through our heart transplant program,” said Robert Jaquiss, M.D., co-director of the Heart Center and director of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Health. Dr. Jaquiss is Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Our team of more than 400 cardiologists, surgeons, nurses, managers and support staff in the Heart Center are some of the country’s leading experts in the treatment of the full spectrum of pediatric heart conditions. Our shared commitment to make life better for children drives everything we do.”

From Heart Attack to Heart Transplant

One of these children is Casey Huff, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Fort Worth. As a baby, Casey was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a rare birth defect in which the left side of the heart is critically undeveloped. Like many HLHS patients, Casey underwent a series of three open-heart surgeries in her first few years of life, and she enjoyed a relatively healthy childhood after that.

Things began to rapidly change in September 2017, however, when she was sitting at home and felt what she describes as “a ton of bricks sitting on your chest.” Casey’s dad rushed her to a local emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a pulled muscle in her sternum. However, when she failed to improve in the following weeks and months, Casey’s doctor referred her to the Heart Center at Children’s Health, where the team discovered that her episode was, in fact, a heart attack.

“When they told us they had answers, I just got chills,” said Casey’s mom, Bethany Huff. “Having answers and a realistic expectation of where we can go from here, and what that looks like, can put you at ease, It’s a hard road, but knowing that you’re in good hands with people on the team who know what to do – that’s where you can develop a good strategy.”

Casey was listed for transplant in late February 2018. On March 1, more than five months after her heart attack, she received her lifesaving heart transplant. The oldest of three siblings, Casey is looking forward to getting back to school and eating her favorite foods after a full recovery.

“Casey’s going to be better off than she’s ever been,” Bethany Huff said. “She doesn’t understand what it’s going to feel like, for example, to not get tired after running. We’re just very excited for her.”

Kicking Off a Tradition of Innovation

When the Heart Center performed its first heart transplant on April 13, 1988, the procedure was still relatively new in children and not widely available. Children’s Health was one of the first to offer pediatric heart transplants in some of the smallest infants for whom this advanced, lifesaving procedure was not previously an option. Today, the Heart Center averages 16 heart transplants per year, including 18 in 2017.

“The innovations in our Heart Center have allowed for what was once considered ‘impossible’ to be ‘possible,’” said David Berry, president of system clinical and scientific operations at Children’s Health. “While no parent would wish for their child to have a heart condition and require specialized care, we are proud of our extraordinary team of experts in the Heart Center who have provided them with countless renewed opportunities for a happy, healthy childhood.”

Transplantation remains the most advanced heart procedure in children; however, medical advancements have introduced many options to keep children healthy enough until the right donor organ becomes available—or even avoid the need for transplant altogether. Among the Heart Center’s innovations are:

  • One of only two ventricular assist device programs in Texas, offering custom-fit devices traditionally manufactured for adults, enabling patients to remain healthy as they await a heart transplant or other solution
  • One of the nation’s largest pediatric cardiac catheterization programs, reducing the need for open-heart surgery in many patients
  • Fetal Heart Program, the only one in the nation to receive a Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission, that coordinates prenatal testing and high-risk delivery planning to give babies with critical congenital heart conditions the care they need at the right time
  • The award-winning Safe at Home Program, an around-the-clock intensive home monitoring program that allows patients with single-ventricle defects to recover at home between surgeries
  • One of few programs in the country with a dedicated cardiac MRI, which Heart Center experts use to make more accurate diagnoses and tailor treatments to each patient’s unique anatomy

For more information and pediatric heart transplants and other innovations within the Heart Center at Children’s Health, visit www.childrens.com/heart.

 

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$1 Million Gift Will Support Pediatric Care, Research at Children's Health, UT Southwestern

March 06, 2018 - The Dallas Morning News

The MMK Foundation has committed $1 million to be split evenly between Children's Health System of Texas and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

It's the largest grant ever given by the foundation, established by Marcia and Mark King in 2007.

The money will be used to enhance the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Health, support research at UT Southwestern and provide unrestricted funds for pediatric needs.

"Providing these gifts fulfills our foundation's goals of addressing important issues that impact childhood development and the future of our community's citizens," said Mark King, chairman of Strait Lane Capital Partners.

Marcia King added: "And funding medical research is a solid investment in the future for us all. UT Southwestern physician-scientists are among the best in the world, and we are pleased to play a small part in helping them push their ideas to the next level."

The Kings are longtime supporters of both institutions. Their foundation puts priority on health care, education, family support services, the environment, disaster relief and the needy. To learn more, visit mmkfoundation.com.

 

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JUST IN: The MMK Foundation Provides A Million-Dollar Gift To Be Shared By Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center

March 01, 2018 - My Sweet Charity

And the announcements and great news keep rolling in. Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center finished February with high fives. Make that $500,000 each thanks to the Mark and Marcia King’s The MMK Foundation.

Old hands at providing funding to both organizations, this million-dollar pledge is “the largest gift ever made by The MMK Foundation, which was established in 2007 to effect positive, sustainable change in the lives of children, citizens and communities globally.”

The Foundation’s focuses on the following:

  • Improving the lives of children through health, education, and technology
  • Helping individuals by providing necessary resources, skills, and opportunities
  • Supporting families to remain intact and retain stability
  • Strengthening communities by responding in times of extraordinary need
  • Making investments and improvements in the environment and infrastructure 

According to Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher, “We are grateful that the Kings have made an even deeper commitment to helping us make life better for children. Their desire to help our tiniest, most vulnerable patients is indicative of their Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of children everywhere. The impact of this gift will be felt for generations.”

Mark explained, “Providing these gifts fulfills our Foundation’s goals of addressing important issues that impact childhood development and the future of our community’s citizens. There is no better place to make an impact on a child than as a newborn in intensive care. Helping that child by helping him or her develop fully into a healthy adult is good for everyone.”

This specific gift will focus on “enhancing the pediatric hospital’s neonatal ICU, furthering groundbreaking research at UT Southwestern and providing unrestricted funds for the critical needs of children.”

Marcia said, “And funding medical research is a solid investment in the future for us all. UT Southwestern physician-scientists are among the best in the world, and we are pleased to play a small part in helping them push their ideas to the next level.”

Over the years, the Kings and their Foundation “have supported health care research initiatives conducted by Dr. Jyothsna Gattineni, who is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and a pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Health.”

UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolosky concluded, “Support from philanthropists like Mark and Marcia King is critical to advancing the most promising research to address the unmet needs of children, including chronic kidney disease and digestive diseases. Because of their generosity, Dr. Jyothsna Gattineni and her UT Southwestern colleagues are able to accelerate their progress toward better treatment options and outcomes for newborns and provide much-needed hope for their families.”

 

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Diagnosed With Cancer Twice, 13-Year-Old Continues Courageous Fight

March 01, 2018 - CBS DFW

Katie Thomson is one of so many, who have been diagnosed, and fought, only to be told the monster is back. Not once, but twice. I would give anyone in that situation the right to be mad, angry, upset, and vocal about it. But I have to tell you, meeting Katie was pure inspiration. At 13, nearly 3 years into her fight, this little girl has the heart, soul, and composure that far exceeds her years. The connection I have to Katie is one that goes far beyond simply caring so much about helping those in the fight against cancer though. The backstory on why is important.

Two years ago, I completed the hardest one day race on the planet, the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, all to raise money to help support research for people just like Katie. What I didn’t know then, was the direct impact our fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that year would have.

At that time, late 2016, a therapy called CAR-T was an immunotherapy *thought. In clinical trials to see if it could actually benefit those in the fight. CAR-T works like this. A blood draw is made. It is then sent to a lab in New Jersey where the T cells are removed. Each T cell is then married to a genetically engineered cancer fighting cell that once put back in the body, will multiply, and also directly attack Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Katie’s leukemia. Using your own body, with a genetic modifier, to fight that evil in your body. Part of the nearly $160,000 we raised for LLS that year, helped fund the research (much of it taking place at UT Southwestern), that finally led to FDA approval last in 2017 of that very therapy!

That brings us to Katie. Diagnosed in 2015 with A.L.L., the initial chemo didn’t work. Then she moved on to a bone marrow transplant. It worked. Katie got back to her life. Her school. Her friends and family. Life began to be fun.

But by October of 2017, Katie didn’t feel right. She told me she knew that feeling. She even held back from telling her mom and dad for a bit, she didn’t want them to hurt, and she was hoping it just wasn’t true. But it was. Her cancer was back. But not long prior to her relapse last year, CAR-T therapy, a hope and dream just two years ago, was finally approved by the FDA. The timing of it all is not lost on her family. Requirements to qualify for CAR-T therapy is anyone under the age of 25, who has relapsed twice. 

Katie received her blood draw in early December 2017. About a month later, the blood came back from the lab. Katie was given her now genetically modified T cells in an infusion that happened on January 6th 2018. Right away, she spiked an incredible fever. She felt horrible. Her fever spiked to 106 degrees. As you read that, you expect the worst. But this was the best news doctors had hoped for actually. It was an immediate indication that the new fighter T cells were working. They were multiplying in her body by the thousands, war was being waged against that demon in her body, and they began eating up her A.L.L cancer. It was working.

Katie told me about that day, saying “It was kind of hard to believe, because I felt so bad. But somewhere in the back of my mind I was like, happy, that they were dying”.

And indeed she was right. Those cancer cells were dying. But the road had already been long and hard. Chemo fights. A bone marrow transplant in 2015 when the initial chemo didn’t work. Katie’s mom Jessica remembers “all you can think of is that it’s just not fair for your baby to have to go through this all over again, and your heart breaks because you can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away.”

To me, that frustration is so easy to understand as a parent. I can’t imagine being powerless to help my child myself. But the reality that so many parents of kids with cancer deal with.

In cancer, the hope with every major treatment, from chemo, to this new CAR-T, is to have the patient in “remission” by four weeks after treatment. Remission is not cured, but it’s an indication that the cancer is no longer anywhere in your body, so the fight continues as planned. At week four after her infusion of the new cancer fighting blood, Katie, was in remission.

Her oncologist Dr. Ted Laetsch of Children’s Health Dallas and UT Southwestern, also, just happened to be on part of the history making team that directed many of the clinical trials of CAR-T therapy, where he told me they saw an amazing 81 percent success rate. If this match was not made in Heaven, I don’t know what else it could be. Dr. Laetsch told me when we sat down, that “it’s kids like Katie who get me through.” As a researcher who had a major hand in developing the now FDA approved therapy in Katie’s body, doctor Laetsch says he’s extraordinarily happy to “see a great response as in Katie’s case, and we’re able to help, where five or ten years ago, we weren’t.”

As you read this, Katie is cancer free. Still fighting, still a road ahead to make sure this ugly monster never returns. With CAR-T the body lacks antibodies. So as a result, Katie drops by Children’s on a routine schedule to receive antibodies through an IV that she will now need to do for life. A small price to pay says mom, for the life we’re all desperately hoping she will return to.

She’s already taking the first steps. In the last two weeks, Katie has returned to school. She’s returned to dance class, one of her first loves. She’s returned, to being a kid again.

Just as I did two years ago in Kona, I will return to the big Island on March 25th to continue my support and fight for people just like Katie. I’m taking on the Lavaman triathlon in Kona, on March 25th. Raising money, and with stories like this, awareness. Every single dollar I raise through my fundraising page, goes directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, and I would be honored to have your support. I know Katie, and every other cancer warrior out there now, and those who will be diagnosed, will appreciate anything you can do.

 

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MMK Foundation makes $1 million gift to Children’s Health, UT Southwestern Medical Center

February 28, 2018

Institutions to share funds to benefit neonatal ICU, medical research

The MMK Foundation, founded by Mark and Marcia King, has pledged $1 million to be split equally between Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center for the purpose of enhancing the pediatric hospital’s neonatal ICU, furthering groundbreaking research at UT Southwestern and providing unrestricted funds for the critical needs of children.

It is the largest gift ever made by the MMK Foundation, which was established in 2007 to effect positive, sustainable change in the lives of children, citizens and communities globally.

“Providing these gifts fulfills our Foundation’s goals of addressing important issues that impact childhood development and the future of our community’s citizens,” said Mark King. “There is no better place to make an impact on a child than as a newborn in intensive care. Helping that child by helping him or her develop fully into a healthy adult is good for everyone.”

Marcia King added: “And funding medical research is a solid investment in the future for us all. UT Southwestern physician-scientists are among the best in the world, and we are pleased to play a small part in helping them push their ideas to the next level.”

The Kings and the MMK Foundation have a long history of giving generously to both institutions. At Children’s Health, the Kings are part of the Bradford Society, members of which have named Children’s Health as a beneficiary in their estate plans. They have also provided more than $250,000 in the last decade for patient electronics, entertainment and electronic technology advancements in Child Life, Gastroenterology and Endocrinology. At UT Southwestern, the Kings and MMK have supported health care research initiatives conducted by Dr. Jyothsna Gattineni, who is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and a pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Health.

“We are grateful that the Kings have made an even deeper commitment to helping us make life better for children,” said Brent Christopher, President of Children’s Medical Center Foundation. “Their desire to help our tiniest, most vulnerable patients is indicative of their Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of children everywhere. The impact of this gift will be felt for generations.”

The Children’s Health 47-bed Level IV NICU serves as a regional referral center for lower-level NICUs. It was expanded in 2015 and includes state-of-the-art equipment and upgraded amenities for families. It provides neonatal support to outside obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine specialists through the Children’s Health Fetal-Neonatal Program. This multidisciplinary team, including maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, pediatric surgery, cardiology and other pediatric subspecialists, provides prenatal consults for patients with diagnoses of fetal anomalies or when a complex postnatal course is anticipated. All neonatologists are faculty at UT Southwestern, where the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine has been a participating member in the National Institutes of Health Neonatal Research Network since its inception in 1986.

UT Southwestern is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading centers for neonatal-perinatal care, teaching and research. The basic science and clinical investigation underway across UT Southwestern’s 15 pediatric divisions spans a wide range of topics, including gastroenterology, kidney disease, pulmonary vascular biology, neonatal resuscitation, and long-term follow-up care.

“Support from philanthropists like Mark and Marcia King is critical to advancing the most promising research to address the unmet needs of children, including chronic kidney disease and digestive diseases,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “Because of their generosity, Dr. Jyothsna Gattineni and her UT Southwestern colleagues are able to accelerate their progress toward better treatment options and outcomes for newborns and provide much-needed hope for their families.”


About MMK Foundation

The MMK Foundation is a private, nonprofit 501(c) foundation that provides donations and partners with other nonprofit organizations and causes to support initiatives that enhance the lives of children, citizens, and communities globally to achieve positive outcomes. The MMK Foundation’s efforts are focused on improving the lives of children through health, education and technology; helping individuals by providing necessary resources, skills and opportunities; and strengthening communities by responding in the time of extraordinary need and making investments and improvements in the environment and infrastructure. Based in Dallas, Texas, the MMK Foundation was established in 2007 by Mark and Marcia King. More information is available on the MMK Foundation at www.mmkfoundation.com.

About Children’s Medical Center Foundation

Children’s Medical Center Foundation serves as the fundraising arm for Children’s Health℠, the leading pediatric health system in North Texas. The Foundation works with individual donors, corporations and organizations to help the comprehensive team of physicians, scientists and medical professionals at Children’s Health fulfill its mission to make life better for children. Children’s Medical Center Foundation raises, manages and distributes funds to support Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Children’s Medical Center Plano, multiple specialty centers, Children’s Health Pediatric Group primary care practices, Our Children’s House rehabilitation facilities, home health, physician services, and the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern. For more information, please visit give.childrens.com.

About UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year. To learn more, visit utsouthwestern.edu.

 

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IHOP Giving Away Free Pancakes for a Good Cause

February 27, 2018 - Fox4 News

It's batter for a better cause, pancakes for a purpose and flapjacks for fun. It's National Pancake Day at IHOP benefiting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Children's Health patient Sim Scott joins Good Day to help talk about how local donations will be passed on to hospitals in our area.

LINK: www.pancakeswithapurpose.com

 

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IHOP® Restaurants Announces Its First-Ever Kid Culinary Team

February 25, 2018

The first IHOP Kid Culinary Team visits the IHOP Test Kitchen Friday, February 16 to cook their own pancake creations alongside Chef Nevielle Panthaky, VP of Culinary, IHOP (from left: Elise Bromund, 8, Sim Scott, 15, Starla Chapman, 9.)

In Honor of IHOP National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, the Brand Teamed up with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Invited “Miracle Kids” Ages 6-16 to Create New Pancake Recipes

GLENDALE, Calif., February 21, 2018 – Today, IHOP® unveiled its first ‘Kid Culinary Team’ as part of the brand’s annual IHOP National Pancake Day® celebration, which takes place next Tuesday, February 27 in IHOP restaurants everywhere*. Partnering with its lead charity, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, IHOP put out a call to current and former CMN Hospitals patients to dream up their best pancake creation for the chance to join the inaugural IHOP Kid Culinary Team and cook their recipe in the brand’s Test Kitchen. After receiving submissions from around the country, three finalists were selected for their pancake originality and inspirational stories.

Meet the IHOP Kid Culinary Team:

  • Elise Bromund, of Greensboro, North Carolina, cooked up Chocolate Cat Pancakes with Raspberry Custard and “Chocolate Chippies,” dedicated to the adorable animals she loves. Elise has been battling Jacobsen Syndrome her entire life. Due to the rare chromosome defect, eight-year-old Elise has been hospitalized numerous times and today, needs to closely monitor her epilepsy. According to Elise’s mom, “she has never met a stranger she doesn’t like; she befriends everyone, and she demonstrates unusual empathy toward people who are sad or hurting.” A bubbly child that brings joy to everyone she meets, Elise loves to sing and dance.
  • Nine-year-old Starla Chapman from Mobile, Alabama combined two food favorites — cookies and pancakes — to come up with an Oatmeal Raisin Pancake as a tribute to the warm, delicious oatmeal cookies she used to bake with her grandmother. Starla has faced an uphill climb since birth, having been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia when she was 2-years-old and subsequently suffering cardiac arrest as a result of the chemotherapy. Today, thanks to the care at USA Children and Women’s Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Starla is thriving and loves to entertain on the YouTube channel she shares with her younger brother.
  • From Dallas, Texas, Sim Scott has had a miraculous journey with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Now 15, Sim underwent multiple surgeries, cancer treatments and physical setbacks after being diagnosed with a grade II/grade III astrocytoma brain tumor at age 6. Today, he’s a smart, caring young man on a quest to help others. In addition to having a Black Belt in Karate, Sim is currently studying to become a Doctor of Audiology at the Health Sciences Academy. His pancake creation, SIMCakes — or “Super, Incredible, Mouthwatering Candy Cakes” - is Buttermilk pancakes with milk chocolate toffee chunks (Sim’s favorite candy), topped with whipped cream, sweet caramel sauce, and more toffee.

“Kids and families are the heart and soul of IHOP so expanding our culinary team to include three of our youngest fans seemed like the perfect way to celebrate IHOP National Pancake Day and kick off our 60th` year as a brand,” said Nevielle Panthaky, Head of Culinary at IHOP. “As a chef, it was really fun partnering with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and seeing all the different pancake ideas. We received so many great submissions, but our IHOP Kid Culinary Team finalists — Elise Bromund, Starla Chapman and Sim Scott - took it to the next level with their recipes. While I was certainly impressed by their creativity, I was even more inspired by their perseverance and positivity in overcoming such serious illnesses.”

“I’m amazed by all the miracle kids who submitted their personal stories and pancake recipes to the very first IHOP Kid Culinary Team Pancake contest,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “I want to congratulate the three finalists - Elise, Starla and Sim - who represent what Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals stands for and will be fantastic IHOP National Pancake Day ambassadors in 2018. Partnerships like the one we have with IHOP and its franchisees are critical in securing the funding needed to treat the more than 10 million pediatric patients that visit our hospitals every year.”

The IHOP Kid Culinary Team announcement comes just days before the 13th annual IHOP National Pancake Day event on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, which is the centerpiece of the all-day breakfast leader’s 60 Days of Giving campaign. On IHOP National Pancake Day, guests can receive a free short stack* of the brand’s Original Buttermilk Pancakes at IHOP restaurants nationwide from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. - with select locations participating until 10:00 p.m.

In return, guests are asked to help make a difference by leaving a donation of any size in-restaurant or on-check, with all funds collected staying in the community where they were raised. IHOP National Pancake Day and all related activities throughout the 60 Days of Giving campaign - a nod to the brand’s 60th anniversary — directly benefit charities dedicated to finding cures and eradicating life-threatening diseases that affect children and families, including Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, as well as The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Watch a behind the scenes of video the IHOP Kid Culinary Team Cooking in the brand’s Test Kitchen and learn more about each finalist. On Monday, February 26, 2018, one of the event finalists will be named the first IHOP Kid Head Chef.

Contact media@ihop.com for interview requests, to arrange an in-studio pancake demonstration, coordinate a remote live-feed from an IHOP or request gift cards for audience use. For more information on IHOP National Pancake Day, including restaurant hours and charity support by restaurant, please visit www.ihoppancakeday.com.

*Limit one offer per guest. One free short stack of Buttermilk Pancakes on February 27, 2018 from 7 am - 7 pm: participating restaurants and hours may vary. Check with your local IHOP restaurant for details. Dine-in only.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES, LLC

For 60 years, IHOP has been a leader, innovator and expert in all things breakfast, any time of day. The chain offers 65 different signature, fresh, made-to-order breakfast options, a wide selection of popular lunch and dinner items as well as meals under 600 calories. IHOP restaurants offer guests an affordable, everyday dining experience with warm and friendly service. Today, there are more than 1,750 IHOP restaurants around the world, including restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Thailand, India and The Philippines. IHOP restaurants are franchised by affiliates of Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN).

ABOUT CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK HOSPITALS

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.

 

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Building an Army to Fight Blood Cancer

February 22, 2018 - Cure

CAROLINA HERNANDEZ and her mom, JULIA LEAL, took a chance by opting for the newly approved CAR-T cell therapy. - PHOTO BY: JARED REY

In fall 2016, Carolina Hernandez, then 10 years old, started complaining that her bones hurt. Her primary care doctor attributed the symptom to growing pains. But by February 2017, the pain had become so severe that Carolina, an enthusiastic soccer and basketball player, could barely walk. She was brought to the emergency department.

Soon after, her family received the devastating news: Carolina had B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The next five months passed in a blur of chemotherapy treatments. But Carolina’s cancer did not respond — cancer cells stubbornly remained in her bone marrow.

By October 2017, Carolina’s medical team said she had two choices left: a bone marrow transplant or a newly approved treatment called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell procedure. The latter involved removing and genetically re-engineering some of Carolina’s immune cells — T cells — to find a specific marker on her cancer cells and then kill them.

Carolina’s family opted for CAR-T. And although Carolina did have a fever right after the procedure, she now is much stronger. “The doctors are amazed at how quickly it worked — and how well,” says Carolina’s mother, Julia Leal, 40, a housekeeper who quit work to take care of her daughter. “I’m very hopeful. It gave me my life back, as well as my daughter’s life back. I’m very glad that we did it.”

Carolina is one of the first patients to receive this treatment, Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), outside of a clinical trial. Two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for CAR-T cell therapy came in late 2017, one for use in children and young adults with advanced leukemia, and another for use in adults with refractory lymphoma. Although available only to a very specific group of patients, CAR-T cell treatment is a real breakthrough.

NOTHING LIKE WE’VE SEEN BEFORE

Just after World War II, the approach to cancer treatment was basically “slash, poison, burn” — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. Then, in the 1960s, monoclonal antibodies allowed oncologists to precisely target malignant cells by looking for molecular changes or markers.

CAR-T cells are a completely different animal — a “living drug.” The procedure adapts the immune system to fight a patient’s own cancer, part of a larger field called immunotherapy, which has taken the oncology world by storm.

Rather than dragging a patient through months or years of treatment, CAR-T cell treatment takes just a few weeks. It offers the possibility of a durable cure to patients who had no options before.

CAR-T cell treatments involve regimens rather than drugs. The technique enlists a patient’s own T cells, a type of white blood cell. These lymphocytes recognize and remember invading bacteria and viruses by analyzing various markers on the surface of infectious or malignant cells.

“This is a new way to treat leukemia that is different from anything we’ve used before,” says Ted Laetsch, M.D., Carolina’s doctor and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

First, Laetsch explains, doctors take a blood sample and isolate the white blood cells. In the lab, they use a highly modified form of the virus that causes HIV to insert a new gene that makes the patient’s T cells. This gene causes T cells to attack CD19, a particular marker on the surface of B cells, another type of white blood cell that turns malignant in leukemia.

Meanwhile, the patient usually goes through some chemotherapy to make room for the edited T cells, which are dripped back into the circulatory system. If all goes well, these chimeric T cells multiply into an advancing army that takes out all the cancerous B cells by bursting their cell membranes, putting the patient into remission.

In a sense, CAR-T cell treatment combines cell therapy, gene therapy and immunotherapy in one package. Experts say it represents a radical departure from all medicines to date. “This is revolutionizing how we treat patients,” says Julie-An Marie Talano, M.D., director of clinical research in Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and clinical researcher in Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “The next decade is going to be really exciting.”

In small, early studies, as many as 80 to 100 percent of patients responded to CAR-T cell treatment, leading the FDA to award breakthrough status to CAR-T treatments for B cell malignancies such as ALL and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as well as some types of lymphoma.

In August 2017, the FDA approved Kymriah for treating patients aged 25 years or younger who have B-cell precursor ALL that resists other treatments — what doctors call refractory — or relapsed at least twice after traditional treatments. The approval was based on phase 2 results from a single-arm, international trial of 63 patients who received a single dose of Kymriah. Overall remission rate was 82.5 percent in treated patients. Forty patients (63 percent) had complete remission (CR), and 12 (19 percent) had CR with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi). All patients who had CR or CRi were associated with negative minimal residual disease status in the bone marrow, meaning the blood or bone marrow is clear of the abnormal cells.

Kymriah was granted priority review early this year from the FDA to be used to treat adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who either relapse or are not eligible for an autologous stem cell transplant.

Less than two months after approving Kymriah, the FDA cleared the second CAR-T cell therapy. The approval, announced in October 2017, covers the use of Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) for patients with large B-cell lymphomas whose cancer progressed following at least two prior treatment regimens. This type of cancer includes diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (the most common), primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, high-grade B-cell lymphoma and transformed follicular lymphoma.

So far, just a handful of patients have received Yescarta in the U.S. due to holdups with insurance, Medicaid and Medicare for payment.

Both Kymriah and Yescarta target a marker called CD19 that occurs on the surface of B cells. Investigators conducting ongoing clinical trials with CAR-T cells hope to recognize two markers, as well as explore other good surface targets for amped-up immune cells.

GREAT REWARDS BUT AT HIGH COST

CAR-T cell approaches were the darling of the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting held in December 2017. Clinicians are hopeful that the technique will extend to other blood cancers. For instance, just before the ASH meeting, the FDA approved a CAR-T cell regimen breakthrough status for treating multiple myeloma.

“This is one of very few therapies where it is intellectually honest to speak of a cure — that is a word that I use very rarely,” says James L. M. Ferrara, M.D., D.Sc., director of the Hematologic Malignancies Translational Research Center at Tisch Cancer Institute in New York City. “You know within four to six weeks if a person is likely to be cured. That in itself is a great advance.”

For now, this approach is approved only for patients who have not responded to several lines of treatment. And because the treatment is pricey, insurance companies are unlikely to approve its off-label use, doctors say. Still, many are trying to build the case that this might be effective earlier on, perhaps even at diagnosis.

“The next step is to move to upfront treatment in those B-cell leukemias that we already know are high risk,” says Dean Lee, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “We will eventually make it to a point where we can deliver as a first-line therapy, even in more common leukemias.”

Because each treatment is custommade for every patient, requiring time, transit and complicated lab work, CAR-T cell regimens are expensive.

They cost substantially more than the bone marrow transplants that until now were the last resort in many blood cancers. The list price for Kymriah, the pediatric regimen developed by Novartis, is $475,000.

Kite Pharmaceuticals’ Yescarta is set at $373,000. Although some medical plans will get discounts and both companies have committed to helping patients who cannot pay, price will continue to be an issue, experts say.

RISKY BUSINESS

Side effects of CAR-T cell treatment can be severe — essentially releasing weaponized immune cells into the body is bound to create some biological fallout. The most severe reaction is cytokine release syndrome (CRS), dubbed a “cytokine storm” to describe what happens when a feedback loop of immune responses causes inflammation, pain, fever and swelling that can spill over into life-threatening symptoms such as acute lung injury, sepsis and paralysis.

To treat severe or life-threatening CRS, the FDA expanded the approval of Actemra (tocilizumab) for use in patients two years of age or older. The approval is based on data demonstrating that in clinical trials of CAR-T cell therapy, patients who received Actemra had complete resolution of CRS within two weeks following one or two doses of the treatment.

CAR-T cell treatment can also be toxic to the nervous system, causing seizures or loss of speech, although these are usually temporary. In some patients, normal B cells don’t regrow, making transfusions of antibodies a long-term reality, Ferrara said.

That is also what complicates finding new targets to combine with this approach: A patient can live if the treatment kills every B cell, but that isn’t necessarily true of the immune cells of many other cancers. Some are crucial to life — it would be tough to survive without, say, brain or lung cells.

Despite the challenges, experts hope that the CAR approach may someday be used against new targets in solid cancers, such as epidermal growth factor receptor in glioblastoma — a rare but deadly type of brain cancer — or hepatocyte growth factor receptor, also called c-MET, in other solid tumors. Current studies are exploring CARs to fight sarcoma (a cancer of soft tissue), advanced prostate cancers, multiple myeloma, tumors of the chest cavity, and mesothelioma, as well as lung, breast and ovarian cancers.

The application to solid tumors remains challenging, experts say. Blood cancers are essentially the out-of-control multiplication of single cancerous cells. That’s a more straightforward target than a solid tumor, which is a bit like an organ gone rogue, with its own microenvironment and vascular system.

Solid tumors also create various cell messengers that can dampen or mute the immune response. Then there’s the question of delivery: How might CAR-T cells reach the middle of a solid tumor deep within healthy tissue? That’s not easy to figure out.

Several teams are exploring the development of off-the-shelf CARs, agents that would not be isolated from a patient’s cells but would instead involve a template that could be altered to order, even if a patient doesn’t have enough healthy T cells to culture.

Other centers are testing approaches where CARs are simultaneously targeting more than one tumor receptor. The Medical College of Wisconsin has developed a clinical trial with a CAR-T cell that recognizes two targets on B cells: CD19 and CD20. Although this is indeed a breakthrough, experts caution that there’s no guarantee of wide application. “It will be trickier in other blood cancers and solid tumors,” explains Nirav Shah, M.D., MSHP, assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, division of Hematology and Oncology, specializing in lymphoma and stem cell transplant at Froedtert Hospital, and a member of the Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy team.. “Right now, the success is really in the B-cell malignancy space.”