Researcher – Dr. Shannon L. Maude
FacilityThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Location – Philadelphia, PA
Amount – $50,000

Overview: Dr. Maude's research is entitled: "JAK Kinases as Therapeutic Targets in Pediatric High-Risk ALL"

Explained as follows: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of white blood cells, is the most common childhood cancer. While overall survival rates approach 90%, there remains a group of children whose leukemias do not respond well to standard chemotherapy. Recently, two high-risk ALL subsets with poor long-term survival have been described: Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-like precursor B ALL and early T-cell precursor (ETP) ALL. Notably, common to these high-risk ALL subsets are genetic mutations leading to abnormal activation of a family of proteins called the Janus kinases (JAKs). We hypothesize that JAK activation contributes to leukemia development and aggressiveness, and therefore, blocking JAK kinase activity may be an effective treatment strategy. We have created mouse models of human ALL to study a new therapy which targets JAKs in Ph-like and ETP ALL. These studies have a strong potential to move new therapies directly into clinical trials for these difficult to treat leukemias.

Researcher – Dr. Jean-Francois Rual
FacilityThe University of Michigan Health System
Location – Ann Arbor, MI
Amount – $50,000

Overview: Dr. Rual's research is entitled: "Characterization of MLL and HOXA9-regulated enhancesome molecular networks in acute leukemia"

Explained as follows: The MLL/HOXA9 axis defines a major factor in hematopoiesis that contributes to maintaining a subtle balance between hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and lymphoid/myeloid cell differentiation in the bone marrow. Genetic alterations in genes in the MLL/HOXA9 axis are a major factor in leukemogenesis. The Rual Lab proposes to combine proteomic and genetic tools to search for modulators of the MLL/HOXA9 axis. We believe that this project will provide novel insights into MLL/HOXA9 biology while addressing important issues directly related to the pathologies in which aberrant forms of these genes are involved.

Founder’s Choice Award

Researcher – Dr. Edmond K. Waller
FacilityWinship Cancer Institute
Location – Atlanta, GA
Amount – $25,000

Overview: In appreciation of the consistent support provided by Dr. Waller and his team on the Medical Advisory Board, we are making a $25,000 grant to Emory University Hospital/ Winship Cancer Institute for use in their leukemia research initiatives. The distribution of the funds will be at the discretion of Dr. Waller and we are honored to be able to fund this additional research this year.