Cancer charity gives UF $100,000 grants


Published: Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 at 11:15 p.m.
Stop! Children's Cancer, the nonprofit charity pledged to fund research into pediatric cancer, announced $100,000 in grant awards to University of Florida researchers Wednesday.
Dr. Stephen Hunger, chief of the division of pediatric hematology/oncology at UF's College of Medicine, was awarded $50,000 to continue studies on childhood leukemia.
"This funding will support laboratory studies to develop new chemotherapy treatments for children with leukemia whose cancer has come back after treatment," Hunger said.
In announcing the award, David Muir told board members attending the charity's annual breakfast that the grants had two purposes: to facilitate a quicker transition from lab science to an application that can actually help patients, and to help young investigators establish a career in pediatric cancer.
Two other researchers received grants of $25,000 to further their cancer research. Both Dr. C. Parker Gibbs and Dr. Mingli Yang are focusing on aspects of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
The most common malignant bone tumor in youngsters, osteosarcoma usually develops during the growth spurt as a teenager matures into an adult. The knees, upper arm or upper legs are most often affected. Provided that the cancerous cells have not spread to the lungs, long-term survival may reach 70 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Jay Hutto, president of Stop! Children's Cancer, said the organization has pledged to provide $100,000 a year for the next 10 years to support pediatric cancer research at UF, for a total of $1 million in grant awards.
In addition, the charity has established a legacy fund with a $1 million goal.
Those funds - which Hutto said now total almost $600,000 - will remain as capital while the interest will be used to support research.
In a sense, the charity itself is a legacy to honor Bonnie Freeman, daughter of Howard and Laurel Freeman of Gainesville.
Bonnie died of leukemia in 1983 at the age of 12, but before she died, she asked her parents to do something to stop other children from enduring the pain and suffering from the disease.
Stop! Children's Cancer is the result, and since its inception, the charity has raised more than $1.2 million for the University of Florida's College of Medicine.
Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com.

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