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V Foundation Supports Cancer Research at Packard and Stanford

Gift to fund collaborative efforts at Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Cancer Center

STANFORD, Calif. – The V Foundation for Cancer Research has made a three-year grant totaling $750,000 to support efforts at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford Cancer Center to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

AML, which affects white blood cells that are important for fighting infection, begins in a child’s bone marrow and can spread to the bloodstream and organs. In nearly 50 percent of children diagnosed with AML, the disease does not respond to chemotherapy, the traditional first line of attack. Today AML is responsible for nearly half of all leukemia deaths in children and adolescents.

“This study will advance the development of targeted therapies, and has the potential to significantly boost survival rates for children with intermediate and high risk AML,” says Packard Children’s oncologist Norman Lacayo, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics (hematology-oncology). “The project allows a quick transfer of technologies developed at Stanford to the bedside of Packard patients and children treated at other pediatric centers around the country.”

Lacayo and Gary Dahl, MD, professor of pediatrics (hematology-oncology), are leading the study, in collaboration with Branimir Sikic, MD, professor of medicine (oncology) and Garry P. Nolan, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford Baxter Labs. They will use techniques developed by Nolan at Stanford to conduct a phospho-protein analysis of bone marrow samples from more than 200 pediatric patients who have been treated for the disease using frontline AML protocols.

In patients who suffer from AML, insufficient normal white blood cells are overrun by rapidly proliferating cancer cells. The goal of the study is to identify genes and proteins that can be targeted by therapies to stop such proliferation. By comparing phospho-protein patterns in different patients, the team may be able to identify the signaling pathways that correlate with poor outcomes. This information will help to better classify different patients’ disease risk, and suggest new approaches to confront the most difficult cases.

“Childhood cancer is a terrible disease, and we are hopeful that by working together, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Cancer Center will make great strides in improving survival rates for affected children,” said Nick Valvano, CEO of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. “The V Foundation is proud to support these exemplary institutions.”

Lacayo, Dahl, Sikic, and Nolan are part of a dedicated group of scientists at Packard and Stanford who are waging an ongoing battle against childhood cancer. These scientists have a unique advantage: their location at the intersection of a top-ranked medical school and an outstanding children’s hospital. Their collaborative efforts show exciting potential for translating promising research into new therapies.

“This support from the V Foundation will play an important role in enhancing our understanding of why some children with AML can be cured and why many are not,” says Beverly Mitchell, MD, Director of the Stanford Cancer Center and the George E. Becker Professor in Medicine. “The Stanford Cancer Center is so fortunate to have the resources of Packard Children’s Hospital and the talents of this group of investigators engaged in this quest to improve outcomes for children with acute leukemia.”

About the V Foundation

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, the legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The V Foundation has raised more than $80 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. The V Foundation, which has received six consecutive top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information, please visit

About Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

Ranked as one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation by U.S.News & World Report, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is a 272-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services, and associated with the Stanford University School of Medicine, Packard Children’s offers patients locally, regionally, and nationally the full range of health-care programs and services – from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, please visit

About the Stanford Cancer Center

The Stanford Cancer Center brings together over 300 scientists and physicians from across the Stanford campus to improve the care of cancer patients. Its mission encompasses research into the causes of cancer and the development of new approaches to prevention, early detection, and treatment. In conjunction with Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, it provides patients with access to the results of the most up-to-date cancer research. It is one of only 60 Cancer Centers in the United States to receive specific designation from the National Cancer Institute. For more information, please visit