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University of Alabama at Birmingham has been awarded two large grants for childhood cancer research

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has been awarded a combined total of $262,824 from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-powered charity for raising money towards childhood cancer research. Jonathan McConathy, MD, PhD, associate professor of molecular imaging and therapeutics, and Corey Falcon, MD, pediatrics fellow, were awarded these grants to continue looking for cures and better treatments for all childhood cancer.

Dr. McConathy received a $99,375 grant to advance powerful imaging techniques to guide the treatment of children with brain tumors, help surgeons better plan brain tumor surgery, and detect residual tumor after surgery. He will be working with physicians from UAB and Children’s of Alabama to combine imaging systems to visualize increased amino acid transport by brain tumors. Alyssa Reddy, M.D., professor in the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology; Jeff Blount, M.D., professor in the UAB Division of Neurosurgery and chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at COA; and Sumit Singh, M.D., pediatric radiologist at COA will serve on this team alongside McConathy. Together, their work has the potential of increasing the speed of the development of new therapies by providing a more rapid and accurate determination of whether treatment is working. Better imaging leads to better treatment.

Dr. Falcon received a $163,449 grant from the “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” Fund to continue researching cellular suicide genes, or cells that kill themselves through apoptosis.  The strategy can be used to eliminate chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) redirecting human T-cells (CAR-T) that target pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. His team includes Antonio Di Stasi, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and the Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program Unit, and Frederick Goldman, MD, professor and director of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

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Photo: Childhood Cancer Ribbon. Digital Image. Jacobsen Construction. Web. 26 July 2017. <>.

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