Gregory Friedman awarded grant to support pediatric brain tumor research

childrenThe Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research (Rally) has awarded a $100,000 grant to support the research of Gregory Friedman, M.D. The grant brings funding from Rally to $230,000 since 2013. The grant is cofounded with The Truth 365, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funding for childhood cancer research by being a voice for all children fighting cancer.

Dr. Friedman treats patients at The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama and is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and a scientist in the Neuro–Oncology Program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The competitive Rally Foundation Grant was awarded to Friedman to support his research targeting pediatric medulloblastoma with engineered herpes simplex virus. Friedman was selected as an award recipient because of the importance and quality of his work, the excellence of the candidate and the potential impact of this research to childhood cancer care.

Friedman’s research interest is developing two cutting-edge therapies, viral therapy and immunotherapy, to target chemotherapy and radiation resistant pediatric brain tumors with “engineered” viruses. Herpes simplex virus, which can cause common cold sores, has been genetically altered to infect and kill difficult-to-treat brain cancer cells while not harming normal cells. The virus also stimulates the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor providing a one-two punch at attacking the tumor. The goal of this innovative, directed therapy is to improve outcomes and quality of life for children with brain cancer while lessening damaging side effects from current therapies.

With the additional support from Rally and The Truth 365, Friedman and co-investigators in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Markert, M.D., professor and chairman of neurosurgery, and Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., professor of neurosurgery, will be exploring how uninfected pediatric brain tumor cells may avoid detection by the immune system, so that the ideal immunotherapy can be combined with viral therapy to maximize tumor killing.

Rally and its Medical Advisory Board, consisting of leading childhood cancer researchers from across the nation, award grants through a competitive dual peer review process, ensuring that the best research is funded. All grants are made in honor or memory of a Rally Kid, a child who has fought or is currently fighting cancer.

“We are absolutely thrilled to support Dr. Friedman’s cutting-edge pediatric cancer research,” said Dean Crowe, Founder and CEO of Rally. “It is important to fund promising scientists like Gregory Friedman as we work toward closing the childhood cancer research funding gap so that no parent ever has to hear that there is no curative option for their child.”

This grant is part of the $2 million Rally will be awarding to 22 hospitals across the country this year. Since its founding in 2005, Rally has distributed more than $9 million to more than 250 childhood cancer research projects nationwide, including basic science, fellowships and clinical trials.

The Rally Foundation, based in Atlanta, Ga., was founded with the mission to raise money for childhood cancer research through grassroots initiatives. The foundation was founded in 2005 in a neighborhood driveway as an extension of a community prayer group formed to support a young man, William Olson, who had been diagnosed with a childhood brain tumor, medulloblastoma. The Rally Foundation now boasts several fundraisers across the Southeast and funds research projects from coast to coast. To find out more about Rally, visit RallyFoundation.org.

 

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