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December 8, 2017
Kathleen Paice Froio,

Upstate is one of 39 institutions to share $2.2 million St. Baldrick’s grant

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate Medical University is one of 39 institutions nationwide selected to share $2.2 million in grant money from St. Baldrick’s Foundation to advance patient access to clinical trials.

Upstate’s portion of the grant totals $58,075 and is earmarked to support the Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders’ Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinical Research Program at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Upstate Cancer Center.

In addition to providing salary support for a second clinical research assistant (CRA), it provides funding for educational opportunities for the program’s two CRAs.

Having access to clinical trials is vital in the treatment of childhood cancers.

Nearly 80 percent of childhood cancer patients at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital are enrolled in a clinical trial, a number consistent with national trends.

“With the support of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, we are able to adequately staff our clinical research program, making it possible to provide the most up-to-date care to the children and teenagers in our region,” said Melanie Comito, MD, division chief of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology and professor of pediatrics at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

According to the Children’s Oncology Group, an international research organization supported by the National Cancer Institute, survival rates for childhood cancer have risen from 10 to 80 percent over the last 50 years. Outcomes in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia have gone from a six-month median survival to an 85 percent overall cure rate. In addition to clinical trials, the Children’s Oncology Group is committed to looking at the biologic parameters of cancers and therapies.

“The care and treatment of children with cancer requires not only the medical expertise provided by doctors, nurses, and psycho-social staff, but the involvement of the community as a whole. The donors and volunteers of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are a great example of this community-based dedication,” said Comito.

Comito believes the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is an invaluable resource to the long-term goal of curing all children with cancer and the short-term challenge of curing one child at a time, both of which are dependent upon active multidisciplinary research and adequate funding.

Caption: Melanie Comito, MD, is division chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Waters Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Upstate Cancer Center.