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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (March 15, 2024)—Funding is an integral part of the fight to end childhood cancer. Prayers From Maria is partnering with Children’s of Alabama in this fight by awarding a two-year grant of $248,088 to help fund crucial research in pediatric brain cancer.

Dr. Rintaro Hashizume, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Children’s, is on a mission to revolutionize treatments for brain tumors. He focuses specifically on the daunting challenge presented by diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive brain tumor that primarily affects children. His goal is to improve treatment for kids facing these difficult-to-treat brain tumors by making the treatment more effective and improving their overall quality of life.

With his study of Intranasal Delivery of Targeted Nanotherapeutics, Hashizume hopes to improve treatment for DIPG and other high-grade cancers by developing a novel therapeutic approach that can bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver drugs to tumor cells more efficiently without damaging healthy tissues. 

Support from Prayers From Maria has been paramount in past DIPG research discoveries that have helped inform Hashizume’s current work, and this grant allows for even more discovery and innovation. 

“This is exactly the type of treatment option that was not there for Maria, and so many other children,” said Megan McNamara, co-founder of the Prayers From Maria Foundation. “That is why we are so happy to be funding valuable projects like Dr. Hashizume’s, which have a real chance to help these kids and provide hope where there was none.” 

“Dr. Hashizume is making incredible strides in treating this aggressive brain tumor in children,” said Dr. Girish Dhall, head of the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplantation, director of The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. “The goal of his research is to make the treatment of DIPG more effective and less toxic, leading to an improved overall quality of life for these children. At the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, this is very important to us. We are grateful for Prayers From Maria’s support in this effort.”

Prayers From Maria is awarding this grant in memory of Nicholas Luca (‘05) and Logan Massey (’18).