September 9, 2013

UMass Med School Wins Cancer Research Grant

A University of Massachusetts Medical School professor is one of 41 to receive a research grant in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Michelle A. Kelliher, professor of cancer biology, received $250,000 to support research regarding the development of therapies focusing on children with refractory T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is characterized by increased numbers of immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. According to UMass, most children will T-ALL are cured with chemotherapy, but 20 to 30 percent don't respond to the treatment. Kelliher's work focuses on understanding why those children don't respond to treatment in order to develop effective therapies.

UMass Medical School is one of 41 recipients of Hope On Wheels' 2013 Hyundai Hope Grants which will total $10.25 million. The program has awarded more than $72 million since 1998. UMass Medical School has received $350,000 from Hope on Wheels since 2011.

"Federal funding for pediatric cancer research has been increasingly difficult to receive in recent years," said Dr. Peter Newburger, chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at UMass Memorial Medical Center and professor of pediatrics and cancer biology at the UMass Medical School. "Philanthropic funding is essential to continuing research efforts, such as those by Dr. Kelliher, aimed at controlling and curing pediatric cancer."

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