PrintGary Kohanbash, PhD, a neuro-oncology researcher at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has been awarded a scholar grant of $298,000 from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research.

These grants provide resources to institutions to conduct more research and enroll more children in ongoing clinical trials. Kohanbash and his team will look at improving immunotherapy for ependymomas, the third most common kind of brain tumor in children.

“As a scientist and a father, I am driven to help save kids from brain cancers, so I am very excited about the potential of immunotherapy. Unimaginable advances within the last 10 years are enabling us to create new, safer and more effective treatments,” said Kohanbash, who also is an assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “With this funding from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, I am hopeful that we can bridge the gap between lab research and clinical care for kids with ependymomas.”

Kohanbash’s team has identified three peptides that might activate immune cells to specifically fight one of the more lethal types of ependymoma. He will be testing these peptides in the lab and also is looking at how immunotherapy could help fight all six types of ependymoma that affect kids.

“We are thrilled Dr. Kohanbash is receiving this grant based on his experience and accomplishments in the field of brain tumor immunology and his ongoing work to translate findings from the lab into promising treatments for children with ependymomas,” said Ian Pollack, MD, chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children’s Hospital.

The grant is supported by the St. Baldrick’s Henry Cermak Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research.

For more information, please visit www.chp.edu.