RESEARCH NEWS

The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for Childhood Cancer Research awards Young Investigator Grants to 18 cancer researchers

One UCLA researcher, Steven J. Jonas, M.D./Ph.D., was selected for the 2017 ALSF Young Investigator Grant, which is the first Alex’s Lemonade Stand award to a UCLA pediatric physician-scientist in over 15 years.

by Penny Jennings, UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry | August 1, 2017

The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for Childhood Cancer Research recently awarded Young Investigator Grants to 18 early-career childhood cancer researchers with outstanding track records and promising ideas in the field of pediatric oncology. The Young Investigator Grant mechanism is designed to enable young researchers to pursue cutting-edge projects at leading hospitals and institutions across the country with critical startup funding, totaling $150,000 over the course of three years.

Photo credit: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

One UCLA researcher, Steven J. Jonas, M.D./Ph.D., was selected for the 2017 ALSF Young Investigator Grant, which is the first Alex’s Lemonade Stand award to a UCLA pediatric physician-scientist in over 15 years. He will conduct his research along with the Young Investigator recipients from 12 top institutions across the country whose projects will target various types of childhood cancers.

Photo credit: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Dr. Jonas is currently a clinical fellow in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology working in the laboratory of Professor Paul S. Weiss, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, and the California NanoSystems Institute. Together, Dr. Jonas and Professor Weiss have built an interdisciplinary team connecting leading researchers within UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital & the David Geffen School of Medicine, the California NanoSystems Institute, the Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research, Duke University, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Dr. Jonas states, “We hope to leverage the strengths of the Department of Pediatrics and forge lasting collaborative connections with experts from across the UCLA research community to accelerate bringing new cellular and gene therapies to our patients at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and more broadly.” Under Dr. Jonas’ leadership, this research team is focused on developing and applying innovative nanotechnologies and microfluidic platforms to deliver gene-modification instructions to immune cells that teach them to target a patient’s cancer directly. These tools will enable the more rapid and broader deployment of next-generation cellular immunotherapies to pediatric cancer patients in need.

In addition, Professor Weiss and Dr. Jonas’ group will be participating in the Alex’s Million Miles Challenge, a run/walk/bike-a-thon over the month of September to raise awareness and support for Childhood Cancer Research. To learn more about how you can participate with the team or make a contribution to knock out childhood cancer once and for all, please consider visiting the fundraising page of the UCLA Nano Transformers.

The first $25,000 raised by the team will be matched 1:1 through the generosity of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to support their ongoing research efforts directly.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for Childhood Cancer Research is one of the largest and most engaged philanthropic organizations sponsoring pediatric cancer research. The foundation was founded by Alexandra “Alex” Scott, a young, 4-year old cancer patient, who decided to hold a lemonade stand fundraiser to raise money for “her hospital,” so that doctors could help other kids like they had helped her. Alex started her first stand in 2000 and continued to hold lemonade stands each year, which inspiring an outpouring of international support. Sadly, Alex passed away at the age of 8, but was proud that her story had inspired others exceed her ambitious goal of raising $1 million for childhood cancer research, establishing the foundation that now bears her name.