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$330,000 CHILDHOOD CANCER RESEARCH GRANT AWARDED TO UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM DIVISION OF PEDIATRIC HEMATOLOGY AND ONCOLOGY AT CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA
09/28/2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  (September 28, 2012) – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, is proud to award a $330,000 St. Baldrick’s Scholar grant for a period of three years to Gregory Friedman, M.D., at the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Children’s of Alabama

Dr. Friedman’s research project focuses on medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor found in children, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.  It has been found that genetically-altered herpes simplex virus, which has been used safely and effectively in adult trials, targets and kills tumor cells and brain tumor-initiating cells (BTIC) while sparing normal brain cells. Because BTIC are likely responsible for cancer recurrence, Dr. Friedman’s laboratory is studying the ability of clinically-ready viruses to kill BTIC in difficult-to-treat medulloblastomas. Current treatments for this specific disease are harmful to the developing brain, so it is Dr. Friedman and his team’s goal to provide the foundation for future pediatric clinical trials, using this cutting-edge therapy to benefit children with these deadly cancers.

“This grant is essential because it enables me to continue to work on something I am passionate about; developing novel, targeted, less-toxic therapies for children with cancer that hopefully will improve their outcomes and quality of life,” said Dr. Friedman. “The research made possible through St. Baldrick’s donors and volunteers will undoubtedly have a direct, positive impact on the lives of children with cancer.”

Worldwide a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes, and one in five children diagnosed in the U.S. will not survive, making the Foundation’s efforts to conquer childhood cancers critical. Through the vigorous efforts of volunteers and supporters in the U.S. and around the world, the Foundation is not only honored to award this local grant, but will fund a total of more than $23 million in its 2012 summer grant cycle.

"At the age of 14, my sister was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, and as her little brother, shaving my head was the one way I felt I could express my compassion for her,” said William Overhultz, local St. Baldrick’s event organizer, Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity at the University of Alabama. “Twelve years later, St. Baldrick's gives me an opportunity to continue to stand in solidarity with those affected by childhood cancer and in memory of those lost, but it also allows us to raise money in support of the fight against this disease.”

To locate or organize an event in your community, sign-up to shave, donate or volunteer, visit www.StBaldricks.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and visit the Foundation’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.

About the St. Baldrick’s Foundation
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $101 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, which may be a child’s best hope for a cure. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.

UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
The UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology is a component of the UAB Department of Pediatrics and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.  The Division’s programs are housed in The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders© at Children’s of Alabama.

Children’s of Alabama
Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Last year, families made more than 634,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children’s from every county in Alabama and from 47 other states. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. and has been ranked among the top children’s hospital programs in the country for the past three years by US News & World Report. More information is available at www.childrensal.org.




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