Author: Kelly King

Newest Recipient of a Young Investigator Grant Announced!

Dr. Michael Ortiz from Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City is CKc’s newest recipient of a Young Investigator grant! Early in his career, as the Chief Fellow at MSKCC, he treated Nolan King, the son of Research Director, Kelly King.

Since Nolan’s passing in April 2017, Kelly and Melissa Wiggins have remained connected with him and visited Dr. Ortiz to discuss his research and career goals, and how CKc could assist him in getting his research into the clinic. Because pediatric cancer researchers must search to find their own funding for clinical trials and research to achieve this type of goal, CKc is dedicated to encouraging bright, eager and committed talent like Dr. Ortiz to stay in the field in spite of its challenges by providing salary coverage.

Encouraging those who show this type of promise is an essential part of changing the status quo for kids battling cancer, and this $100,000 award, payable over three years, will help protect Dr. Ortiz’s time in the lab, and assist him in developing his first clinical trial for high-risk solid tumors including hepatoblastomas, sarcomas, and Wilms tumors. He’s already taking huge steps in this direction by being invited to apply and submitting a clinical trial grant application to CKc in the first grant cycle of 2019!

A strong mentor relationship with a leader in the field is an essential part of early career development, and a requirement for our grant funding. Dr. Ortiz’s mentor, Julia Glade Bender, MD, Vice Chair for Clinical Research at MSKCC, told us this: “After 2 decades in the field of pediatric oncology drug development, it is strikingly apparent that Dr. Ortiz is the ‘real deal.’ He possesses the three most critical elements of success: passion, intellect and tenacity. If provided with support at this critical stage of his development, I am certain he will achieve national recognition and earn his place amongst the rising stars in translational pediatric oncology.”

“This grant would provide me with the support needed to continue my pursuit of novel targeted therapies for high risk pediatric solid tumors … and facilitate my ultimate goal of becoming an independent translational clinician scientist.”
– Michael Ortiz, MD

CKc advances research and education initiatives in DC!

When we told you CKc was growing, we meant quickly! And Team CKc, new staff as well as dedicated volunteers, didn’t let any grass grow under their feet. If cancer doesn’t rest, neither will we!

CKc on the road to DC

First stop: Education on Capitol Hill (go big or go home, right?)

An integral part of CKc’s mission is to educate for change, and that includes Congress! Team CKc met with Greg Gill at the Venable LLP office, our pro bono lobbying firm,  to strategize advocacy for this year. We also met with 11 congressional offices, including six in the senate, and five in the house. The highlight of this trip was that we were able to meet with DC-based staff from every one of our local representatives, including Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and Representative Val Demings. This also included personally meeting Representative Stephanie Murphy, who’s district houses the CKc office.

All of these offices have pledged their support to help us further some legislation regarding the deadliest cancers, which Team CKc will now continue working on from Orlando.

Next stop: Research at Children’s National Hospital

Team CKc met with four researchers at Children’s National Hospital to learn about their current and future research projects. Two researchers specialized in brain tumors, one solid tumors and one in genomics. CKc carefully vets potential grantees and invites only the most innovative to apply! The group discussed possible grant funding and the CKc grants application process. We are excited about the possibilities at Children’s National Hospital!

Last stop: Collaboration with OpenWater, Arlington, VA

Speaking of the grants process, Team CKc met with staff from OpenWater, the company providing CKc’s new grant application and management software. This software was put into effect in January to help streamline and automate the application, review, and follow-up processes for all research grants. The next step in the growth of CKc, this software ensures we can continue to be good stewards of the investment our donors make in the fight to cure childhood cancers.

Are you exhausted yet? Grab some coffee… we’re just getting started!

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