Making a Difference – Giving Away $30,000 from 2011

Because of Ezra seeks to fill some of the large gaps in pediatric cancer research funding and focus on these solid-mass cancers. Our goal is to raise money to support relevant research and clinical trials with physicians and researchers who can help make a difference in survival today. You’ve probably heard us say that before. But what does it mean? Who are these people we support?

We’ve just finished up doing our 2011 year end reports (letters to come to all you folks who donated!). Thanks to all of you, our supporters, we were able to give $30,000 to researchers who are in fact making a difference in survival today. I thought I’d highlight the two organizations we chose to support this year.

Dr Giselle Sholler | Van Andel Institue / Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium

We first met Dr Sholler when working through Ezra’s treatment in Orlando, in October of 2010. She was working on a trial of a drug called Nifurtimox (now in Phase II) in treating neuroblastoma and was extremely helpful in getting us approved for use of the drug on a compassionate use basis. Robyn and I remember her answering our calls and emails (and calling and emailing us) into the late hours of the night trying to get Ezra approved; and she’d never met us before.

Since then we’ve met with Giselle and her team multiple times, and are incredibly impressed and inspired by her passion, focus, and intellect. She has recently moved from her position with the Vermont Cancer Center to co-directing the VARI Pediatric Cancer Translational Research Program at the Van Andel Institue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The VARI program will enable large-scale projects that will use the latest genomics and molecular analysis techniques to identify the best treatment options for children based on the individual biology of their tumor, a process often referred to as “personalized medicine.”

We’re proud to count Dr Sholler a personal friend and a partner of Because of Ezra.

Dr Robert Seeger | Los Angeles Children’s Hospital / New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy

Dr Bob Seeger (no, not this guy) is another incredible researcher. As head of the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) Consortium, Dr Seeger works on developing and testing new therapies that will be targeted specifically to neuroblastoma cells, and therefore improve the outcome for children with advanced neuroblastoma with fewer side effects.

We first met Dr Seeger in LA in 2010 when one of our board members reached out to him for an understanding of what was being researched in high risk neuroblastoma. While low and intermediate risk nb have very high cure rates, high risk (stage 4) still has a dismally low survival rate. Dr Seeger has a fiery attention on fixing this. We’ve since spent more time with him and the team in LA, including touring their lab. They are doing exciting work.

We’re also proud to count Dr Seeger a friend and a partner of Because of Ezra.

Hopefully that gives you all an idea of the people and organizations we are partnering with in order to snuff out neuroblastoma. It is a beast of a disease which needs awareness raised in order to further promote research, and funding to continue that research. Your help makes a huge difference – every $10, $20 or $1,000 comes together to be what we like to call “a growing fist in the face of pediatric cancer.”

Thank you

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