St. Baldrick’s Foundation Allocates $1.1 Million for Fellowships to Empower Emerging Childhood Cancer Researchers

By Jo Avelar

March 8, 2024
4 min read

Press Release

Media Contact:
Jo Anne Avelar

LOS ANGELES, CA (March 8, 2024) – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charity funder of childhood cancer research grants, is proud to announce its newest round of grants. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation granted over $1.1 million in Fellow awards to nurture emerging childhood cancer researchers dedicated to overcoming pediatric cancers.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation Fellowship grants provide support to new pediatric oncology doctors for a duration of two to three years to conduct research while undergoing advanced training under the guidance of a mentor. The $1.1 million was distributed to seven researchers making strides in discovering new cures for pediatric cancers.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation 2024 Fellows are:

Dr. Vanja Cabric at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

Hepatoblastoma, common in childhood, lacks effective immunotherapy due to limited understanding of pediatric immune response to tumors. Dr. Cabric’s research will seek to pinpoint immune cells combating hepatoblastoma, unveiling escape mechanisms. This aids in developing targeted pediatric immunotherapies.

Dr. Rahela Aziz-Bose at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

Dr. Aziz-Bose will study the diets of survivors and explore food insecurity’s impact on heart health. Interviewing 20 survivors will provide insights into supporting healthy eating, particularly through “food is medicine” initiatives. Using this data, Dr. Aziz-Bose will refine an intervention and test its effectiveness on a larger scale, aiming to improve food security and heart health for all survivors.

Dr. Timothy Spear at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Spear and his team crafted a tool to identify patient’s tumor’s unique genetic signature (neoantigens). His goal is to advance personalized vaccines for high-risk neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers. Testing this personalized vaccine in a special model, combining the tumor with its responsive immune system, can possibly pave the way for clinical trials.

Dr. Philip Pauerstein at The University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Pauerstein proposes to improve the sensitivity of CAR-T cell treatments using engineered cell adhesion molecules and will study how changes in cell adhesion affect how CAR-T cells kill cancer. This work will aid in improving cell-based treatments used in fighting blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

Dr. Elizabeth Young at The University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Young has identified a specific pathway that shows how osteosarcoma avoids the immune system. This project will allow Dr. Young to further her research and test new approaches in allowing the immune system to combat and treat osteosarcoma.

Dr. Ruyan Rahnama at The University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

This project will allow Dr. Rahnama to engineer specific and powerful Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) within the immune systems to fight acute myeloid leukemia and reduce the toxicity of healthy cells.

Dr. Mohammad Abu Arja at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

This project will allow Dr. Abu Arja to further investigate a unique subset of killer CAR-T cells to fight brain tumors. The findings from this research will help Dr. Abu Arja to genetically engineer enhanced CAR-T cells to efficiently combat tumors in children with brain cancers.

Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has granted more than $342 million to support the development of childhood cancer treatments that have the potential to impact every kid diagnosed with cancer. The next round of St. Baldrick’s grants will be announced this summer.

To learn how you can get involved visit, and connect with St. Baldrick’s on Facebook, X, Instagram, Tik Tok, Threads, and YouTube. Check out our website to find a local event or consider making a donation.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Every 2 minutes, a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. In the U.S., 1 in 5 will not survive. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charity funder of childhood cancer research grants, is on a mission to Conquer Kids’ Cancer by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s, you don’t just give to one hospital – you support virtually every institution with the expertise to treat kids with cancer across the U.S. St. Baldrick’s ensures that children fighting cancer now — and those diagnosed in the future — will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment, by supporting every stage of research, from new ideas in the lab to the training of the next generation of researchers, to lifesaving clinical trials. Visit and help #ConquerKidsCancer.