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Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital wins grant from St. Baldrick's Foundation

Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital wins grant from St. Baldrick's Foundation

Caption: Melanie Comito, MD, division chief in Pediatrics and Hematology/Oncology at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, is the principal on the grant.

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is one of 29 institutions nationwide selected to share $1.7 million in grant money from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to advance patient access to clinical trials.

Upstate’s portion of the grant totals $59,075 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 members of the multidisciplinary team.

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.

“Clinical research trials are so important for continuing to find the best treatments for childhood cancers.  Since most childhood cancers are rare, a center often needs to have more than 50 studies open to make sure that as many children as possible have access to these important clinical trials,” said Melanie Comito, MD, division chief of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology and professor of pediatrics at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. “The infrastructure needed for small centers is tremendous and this grant support allows us to have the 2 full time clinical research assistant needed to open, maintain, and enroll children on trials.  By having so many studies open, we can treat patients here and not have to send to larger centers just to enroll on a clinical trial.”

Comito thanked the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for its commitment to furthering clinical trial opportunities for children with cancer. “The donors and volunteers of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are a great example of a community dedicated to ensuring children with cancer have access to the promise of a cure.” 

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.

This series of grants brings the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s funding total to more than $26 million awarded in 2018. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $258 million to support the most promising childhood cancer research, no matter where it takes place.