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UC Santa Cruz Awarded $2.5M Childhood Cancer Research Grant

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University of California at Santa Cruz's Genomics Institute has been awarded $2.5 million by St. Baldrick's Foundation for genomic research into the causes and treatments of childhood cancers.

The grant will go to UCSC's Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative, which uses genomics and informatics to study pediatric cancers. The Treehouse Initiative was established to enable various institutions to share their data on pediatric patients enrolled in genomic medicine clinical trials, and to assemble large datasets of both pediatric and adult cancers.

UCSC researchers will work with six partners: Children's Hospital of Orange County, Stanford University, Pacific Pediatric NeuroOncology Consortium, the Pediatric Personalized Oncogenomics Program of British Columbia, the Peds Mi-OncoSeq Program at the University of Michigan Cancer Center, and the Molecular Guided Therapy in Neuroblastoma at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Under the auspices of the Treehouse Initiative, the researchers will perform a pan-cancer analysis on all children in their datasets, and then cross-reference that information with more than 10,000 tumors from previous genomics projects. They hope the comparative approach will lead to novel disease genes or targetable drivers, which could suggest new treatment approaches for patients who have not responded to standard therapies.

"Genomic medicine requires massive data sharing and analysis, and that is the emphasis of the Treehouse Initiative," David Haussler, professor of biomolecular engineering and scientific director of the Genomics Institute at UCSC and the grant's principal investigator, said in a statement. "It is only by sharing data that we can deploy genomic insights to their full potential in pediatric cancer and other diseases."