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AACR and St. Baldrick’s Foundation Announce Pediatric Cancer Research Grant Recipient

PHILADELPHIA – The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation today announced that Alanna Joyce Church, MD, has received the AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant, a one-year, $75,000 grant recognizing junior-level faculty members who have demonstrated promise for continued substantive contributions to pediatric cancer research.

Church is associate director of the Laboratory for Molecular Pediatric Pathology (LaMPP) at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on bringing molecular testing to the clinical care of children with cancer and on addressing many of the barriers facing pediatric patients, including the availability and design of molecular tests, the availability of targeted treatments, and issues pertaining to reimbursement for testing. Through institutional and national initiatives, Church’s team has profiled thousands of children’s tumors and used the results to make real-time impacts on their diagnoses and treatments.

The AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant is linked to the AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research. Each recipient of this prestigious scientific award has the opportunity to nominate early-career researchers to be considered for the grant. A selection committee then chooses the grant recipient from the list of candidates provided by the awardee. This process thereby establishes an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship between the awardee and the grant recipient.

Church was nominated for this grant by David Malkin, MD, senior staff oncologist in the Division of Haematology/Oncology, director of the Cancer Genetics Program, and senior scientist in the Genetics and Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto. Malkin received the 2022 AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research for his paradigm-shifting holistic approaches to treating pediatric cancer, for discovering the link between germline mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene and the Li-Fraumeni cancer susceptibility syndrome, and for establishing the “Toronto protocol” for tumor surveillance in patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. He initiated the first childhood cancer predisposition clinic, which has served as the gold standard for the management of families with cancer predisposition syndromes, while spearheading cancer genomic efforts including sophisticated diagnostic, prognostic, and surveillance tools for the management of such patients.

The AACR and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation established the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research and the related Pediatric Cancer Research Grant in 2019 to spotlight significant scientific accomplishments while simultaneously fostering the career advancement of early-career pediatric cancer researchers. Recipients of both the award and the grant are honored at the AACR Annual Meeting each April.