University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Two UCSF Researchers Awarded Funding for Work on Pediatric Oncology

By Inside UCSF | UCSF.edu | December 2, 2014

Two UCSF Researchers Awarded Funding for Work on Pediatric Oncology

UCSF's Adam de Smith, PhD, has received $450,000 in research funding to study the role of genetic and epigenetic variation in risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Down syndrome.

Two UC San Francisco faculty members are among three promising young researchers nationally recognized for their work in pediatric oncology. UCSF’s Adam de Smith, PhD, and Kyle Walsh, PhD, will share a $1.35 million award with Duke University’s Lisa Crose, PhD.
 
The funding comes from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for childhood cancers. Its three ‘A’ Awards will provide each recipient $450,000 over three years to further their work. De Smith plans to examine acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Walsh will study osteosarcoma, and Crose’s research interest is rhabdomyosarcoma.
 
“I truly feel honored to have been selected for this award from such a prominent childhood cancer charity,” said de Smith, an assistant professional researcher in the UCSF School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. “It is also the first research grant that I have received in my academic career to date, and it will enable me to carry out a comprehensive and unique investigation into the causes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children with Down syndrome.”
 
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, and children with Down syndrome have an approximately 20-fold increased risk of developing ALL, as well as higher rates of relapse and treatment-related mortality than children without Down syndrome. De Smith hopes that by understanding the causes of ALL in children with Down syndrome, this might lead to earlier detection and better treatment of this disease, as well as shedding light on the etiology of ALL in the general population.
 
“This ALSF 'A' Award will provide an invaluable source of funding that will hopefully help me to establish my own research lab here at UCSF, with a particular focus on identifying risk factors for childhood leukemia,” de Smith said.
 
The ‘A’ Award joined a prestigious line of medical and nursing grants from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in 2009 to encourage the best and brightest young researchers to build lifelong careers in the field. Operating under the belief that engaging researchers early in their career leads to a long term commitment to find a cure, ALSF works to find and support exceptional early-career researchers.
 
Along with the funds provided to ‘A’ Award recipients ($150,000 per year for three years), the award will also include the opportunity to speak and attend Foundation events, reference books to enhance the researchers’ personal pediatric oncology libraries, equipment to aid in their research (up to $10,000 value) and funding to attend one educational course or event.
 
“Since the time our daughter battled cancer over ten years ago, we have been keenly aware of how important the fresh perspectives of young investigators are to finding better treatments and cures for kids with cancer,” said Jay Scott, co-executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “The ‘A’ Awards play an integral role in doing just that, allowing young scientists with original projects the space and time to follow through with promising research.”
 
The ‘A’ Award joined a prestigious line of medical and nursing grants from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in 2009 to encourage the best and brightest young researchers to build lifelong careers in the field. Operating under the belief that engaging researchers early in their career leads to a long term commitment to find a cure, ALSF works to find and support exceptional early-career researchers.
 

Read more at UCSF.edu