AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant
This grant program represents the first time that a research grant opportunity has been linked to an AACR scientific achievement award. The goal of the AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research initiative is to spotlight significant scientific accomplishments, while simultaneously fostering the career advancement of early-stage pediatric cancer researchers. It is intended to stimulate an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship between the awardees and the grant recipients.
Once selected, the awardee is afforded the opportunity to nominate junior faculty level researchers at any academic institution in the world to be considered to receive a one-year, $75,000 AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant. Candidates must have demonstrated promise for continued substantive contributions to pediatric cancer research. From the list of candidates provided by the awardee, a grant recipient is chosen by the award selection committee.
The overarching goal of the Majzner lab is to generate immunotherapies for pediatric cancer while studying fundamental mechanisms of tumor resistance through three focus areas: 1. CAR T-cell platform development; 2. focus on the immunobiology of GD2; and 3. preclinical development of novel approaches for pediatric immunotherapy.
Dr. Robbie Majzner attended Harvard Medical School, where he developed an interest in pediatric oncology. He completed his residency training in pediatrics at New York Presbyterian-Columbia and fellowship training in pediatric hematology-oncology at Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute. During his fellowship at the NCI and a subsequent instructorship at Stanford, he became interested in developing new methods to harness the pediatric immune system to target childhood cancer which is now the broad focus of his laboratory group. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Stem Cell Transplantation & Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Acknowledgment of Support
The AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant will support efforts in my laboratory to develop new therapies for children with incurable cancers. This work will focus on engineering new platform technologies capable of unleashing the power of CAR T cells for children with solid tumors.
Kidney tumors are among the most common solid tumors in children, comprising distinct subtypes that differ in many aspects. Dr. Drost’s research group at the Princess Máxima Center studies the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of childhood kidney and rhabdoid tumors with the aim to identify novel therapies. Dr. Drost pioneered the use of organoid technology in childhood cancer and succeeded in growing organoids from a spectrum of pediatric tumors. His group uses these organoid models as a drug screening platform to find drugs that specifically target tumor cells. Furthermore, he combines organoid and mouse models with (single-cell) next generation sequencing, gene editing and lineage tracing technologies to study the molecular mechanisms underpinning tumorigenesis.
Dr. Drost obtained his PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. He then joined the Hubrecht Institute as a post-doctoral fellow, where he got acquainted with organoid technology. He has started his research group at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and Oncode Institute, where he studies the molecular alterations underpinning childhood solid tumors, with a primary focus on renal and rhabdoid tumors.
Acknowledgment of Support
The AACR-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Grant offers the support to further develop ongoing, as well as initiate new, research lines. It also provides international exposure for my research, allowing me to initiate new international collaborations in the field of childhood cancer, as I believe that a collaborative approach is vital for a successful research career.