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Creating a Future for Osteosarcoma Research

November 18, 2019
3 min read
Michael Egge founding member of the Osteosarcoma Collaborative

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has always been committed to innovation. As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants in the U.S., it will be no surprise that we fund innovative science, but our commitment extends beyond that.

As part of our strategic plan, we challenged ourselves to find new innovative ways that we could partner with donors in order to help them realize their goals and get more dollars working to find better treatments and cures. We developed our own “venture philanthropy” program, one that allows a donor, or a group working together, to target in what they want to fund with more specificity and involvement than we have ever been able to do before.

The first group to join us in this new effort was the Osteosarcoma Collaborative. Led by Michael Egge, father to Olivia (who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February 2017), and current St. Baldrick’s Foundation board chair, Katherine Lugar, the Osteosarcoma Collaborative had a clear vision about what they wanted to accomplish through their fundraising and partnership with St. Baldrick’s. They wanted to fund research that needed support to push it over the finishing line – something that was very close to being ready to be put in a clinical trial and was specific to osteosarcoma research.

We worked with them to craft a request for applications (RFA) that met this specific need and sent it out to our vast network of researchers. Once the letters of intent were received, members of our Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed them all and a smaller group was asked to submit full proposals. Those were then reviewed and scored by peers and the finalists chosen. The two finalists then presented to the Osteosarcoma Collaborative and Dr. Alex Huang from Case Western University/Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland Ohio was chosen as the recipient.

This $1.5 million award has allowed Dr. Huang to move at an accelerated pace. In just over a year he has made progress on three of the proposed clinical trials and has been able to leverage the Osteosarcoma Collaborative St. Baldrick’s Foundation award to secure additional funding for his lab, which will exponentially increase the pace at which this innovative science can be brought to the bedside for children diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Homemade poster for Olivia

Michael said that “Olivia showed up at school after the event (their event) to this sign at the front door from her classmates congratulating her for the grant and commitments received to $1.5 million.”

Since this first partnership, we have released an additional two requests for applications. The second is being funded by Battle Osteosarcoma, which was formed by a group of parents who all have children who have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The third is focused on Ewing sarcoma and is funded by a family who prefer to remain anonymous.

With this new approach to funding research, St. Baldrick’s looks to build relationships like these to fund new pediatric cancer research. If you are equally committed to innovation and would like to learn more about partnering with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, please email becky@stbaldricks.org.

PS – Olivia, who was her father’s inspiration to be an innovator himself and be the first to partner with St. Baldrick’s in this new way, is doing very well and just started as a freshman at the University of Virginia!

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