Approximately 120 people attended the second annual Pediatric Cancer Research Group Symposium at UNMC on Aug. 26-27.
The event was sponsored by the Child Health Research Institute and was attended by faculty, students, other health care professionals, philanthropic groups (including the Nebraska Coalition to End Childhood Cancer and Team Jack), government representatives and members of the public.
Keynote speaker Brenda Weigel, M.D., professor and Lehman Family Chair in Pediatrics at the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, spoke on the changing landscape in pediatric drug development. UNMC's Eleanor Rogan, Ph.D., UNMC Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health, teamed with the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, Ph.D., UNO College of Engineering, for presentations on the epidemiology of pediatric cancer in Nebraska.
The event is "another example of collaboration between patient advocates and families," said Don Coulter, M.D., director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Group. UNMC, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, the Child Health Research Institute, and the state of Nebraska were among the entities represented at the event.
In its second year, the symposium was focused on answering the questions of the community, Dr. Coulter said. On Aug. 26, pediatric investigators shared 19 posters on research projects with faculty, students and philanthropic supporters. The Aug. 27 morning session was designed to address questions about the incidence of pediatric cancer and other disorders in Nebraska, as well as identifying ways to investigate what is meant by that incidence.
"I also thought it was important to share that we have the experts available, both here at the university and at Children's Hospital & Medical Center, to get to the bottom of some of these issues and really identify the ways that we can take better care of our community," he said.
"It's a project and it's a process . . . looking at all of these different avenues. No one else in the country is examining diseases in children the way we are in Nebraska. No one else is thinking about examining the environment and trying to identify ways that we could take better care of these kids, but make access to care easier for those who live in a rural population.
"Passion is priceless, and in Nebraska we have a lot of passionate people who use that passion to ensure that we're taking the best care of kids," Dr. Coulter said. "That is what inspires us daily."
Other UNMC speakers at the event included D.J. Murry, Pharm.D., UNMC Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science; Shannon Buckley, Ph.D., UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy; Gargi Ghosal, Ph.D., UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy; Joe Vetro, Ph.D., UNMC Department of Pharmaceutical Science; Ram Mahato, Ph.D., UNMC Department of Pharmaceutical Science; and Nina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, Ph.D.