UCSF Awarded $1.75 Million Grant to Fund New Treatments for Pediatric Cancer

By Juliana Bunim

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital has received a grant to support new treatments and training in pediatric cancer.

Researchers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital have received a $1.75 million grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to support the discovery of innovative treatments for childhood cancer.

UCSF has one of the leading programs in childhood cancer research in the United States, with laboratory scientists and clinical researchers collaborating to identify new targets for the treatment of leukemia, brain tumors, neuroblastoma and sarcomas.

In addition to the funding – $350,000 per year, renewable annually for up to five years – UCSF has been named a Center of Excellence (CoE) by the foundation. The CoE program aims to fund the research of leading childhood cancer institutions committed to developing and conducting early phase clinical trials. 

As a Center of Excellence, UCSF will use half of the funds to enhance clinical trial infrastructure and half to support the training of scholars in drug development, allowing the clinical trial program to grow in the field of pediatric oncology. The center applicants were chosen by the foundation and invited to compete for funding. Other CoE institutions selected include Baylor College of Medicine and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Steven DuBois, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Kate Matthay, professor of

Katherine Matthay, MD, center, chief of pediatric oncology at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, speaks with a faculty member at the hospital.

UCSF’s top-ranked fellowship program currently trains three fellows per year, with at least one fellow dedicated to developing a career in early phase clinical trials. 

“This award will allow us to sustain our local program and to train young investigators in the skills needed to develop and lead early phase clinical trials for the future,” said Katherine Matthay, MD, chief of pediatric oncology at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and the principal investigator for the grant. 

The purpose of the Center of Excellence program is threefold: 

  • Foster the evolution of new therapeutic concepts from the pre-clinical arena into fully developed clinical trials;
  • Rapidly and efficiently conduct phase I and phase II trials of highly innovative therapies;
  • Train individuals in the field of developmental therapeutics and cancer pharmacology. 

“One of our strengths at UCSF is our emphasis on translational research,” said Matthay. “The ability to train new investigators in developmental therapeutics will capitalize on the very strong laboratory translational research at UCSF and bring new agents targeting pediatric cancer into the clinic.”