Pediatric cancer research receives $200,000 from Hyundai Hope on Wheels

by Robb Crouch, University of Nebraska Foundation | September 16, 2020

Image with caption: From left, DJ Murry, PharmD, Sarah Holstein, MD, PhD, and James Ford, DO.

From left, DJ Murry, PharmD, Sarah Holstein, MD, PhD, and James Ford, DO.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation embarks on a nationwide tour in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to award $6.8 million to 26 researchers.

The Hyundai Hope On Wheels Foundation has given $200,000 to support childhood cancer research at UNMC with a grant to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

The Hyundai Hope On Wheels Young Investigator Award was presented to James Ford, DO, an associate professor in the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at UNMC. Dr. Ford also holds professional appointments at Nebraska Medicine and Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.

Dr. Ford will use the funding to test a novel therapy for treating osteosarcoma (OS), a type of bone cancer in children and young adults. The goal is to understand how the therapy works in OS to improve the lives of children.

Currently, children diagnosed with OS are treated using the same chemotherapy treatments as were individuals who were diagnosed with the same disease three decades ago.

Dr. Ford said he is grateful for the Hyundai Hope on Wheels grant and to Hyundai for its dedication and commitment to helping fight childhood cancer.

"Cancer is something that is so devastating to children and their families, but so many of them take solace in knowing that we are working towards a better tomorrow through research. I am grateful for Hyundai for their support in this effort," he said.

According to Dr. Ford, there have been efforts to optimize and intensify therapies, but this has not improved outcomes. The patients with the best initial prognosis still have a roughly 70 percent overall survival rate, while those with metastatic or relapsed disease have a dismal prognosis.

"OS survivors have significant toxicity that they carry throughout their lives as a result of their treatments," Dr. Ford said.

The newest round of grants from Hyundai Hope On Wheels marks its 22nd anniversary and coincides with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Its theme this year of "Every Handprint Tells a Story" details the bravery of children fighting cancer, their families and the ground-breaking research of doctors fighting for a cure.

"Throughout the country, talented doctors are working tirelessly to help kids fight cancer by conducting research or providing bedside care," said Scott Fink, chairman of Hyundai Hope On Wheels Board of Directors. "Our goal at Hope On Wheels is to provide these doctors with the grant funds they need to perform their lifesaving work."

There are more than 15,000 new cases of pediatric cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. With its campaign, Hyundai Hope On Wheels brings together the many stakeholders - the children, families, doctors, hospitals, advocates, supporters and others - who work to identify new ways to find a cure and improve care for children battling cancer.

This month, 26 new doctor-researchers will receive a combined $6.2 million in grants from Hyundai Hope On Wheels to support novel therapeutic approaches and innovative research options in pediatric cancer. Childhood cancer researchers depend largely on private funding to get innovative therapies off the ground and to advance treatment approaches to the next phase of testing, ultimately, bringing better therapies and cures to kids with cancer.

More information about the funding provided by Hyundai Hope On Wheels and its events throughout September in support of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is available at hyundaihopeonwheels.org.

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Lisa Runco
September 16, 2020 at 7:57 PM

Congratulations to Dr. Ford and the rest of the team!

Jen Bredehoft
September 16, 2020 at 8:48 AM

Congratulations!

Joshua J. Bies, MD
September 16, 2020 at 8:09 AM

Congrats Dr. Ford! He is 100% correct in that we have not made major progress in Osteosarcoma in nearly 30 years. Here's hoping he and all the amazing people working with him can start making the progress we need!