Newswise — In the United States, more children are lost to cancer than any other disease, and one in 285 children will be diagnosed before they turn 20. As one of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer researchers, Alex Huang, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics with secondary appointments in pathology, biomedical engineering and general medical sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, focuses on strategies to activate the immune system to fight the disease.

To help advance his pathfinding research, Huang has been awarded a $150,000 St. Baldrick’s Foundation Innovation Award. This award provides critical and significant funding to experienced investigators who are developing promising approaches to find causes and cures for childhood cancer.

“There is an urgent need for more effective pediatric cancer treatments,” said Huang. “My goal is to continue fighting to find a cure for these children each day.”

Huang, who is also the Theresia G. & Stuart F. Kline Family Foundation chair in pediatric oncology and the associate director of pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship program at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, recently conducted a breakthrough study that pinpointed a cell-cycle checkpoint protein which allowed individual brain tumor cells to avoid the immune system. Tumors often mimic healthy cells which allows them to grow undetected, so understanding the mechanism of how tumors evade the immune system is imperative for successful treatment.

Additionally, Huang was selected as a working group member advising the National Cancer Institute on the “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer in May of 2016. The initiative aims to speed current cancer research efforts while improving cancer prevention and early detection. The group developed recommendations for major opportunities in hopes of leading to significant breakthroughs in the fight against cancer, particularly pediatric and adolescent cancers.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-powered charity committed to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives. The Foundation is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants and awarded 90 new grants totaling $23.5 million in its summer grant cycle to support the brightest minds in the pediatric cancer field. Since 2008, the Foundation has provided more than $2 million in funding for researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals.




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