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Carmaker’s gift boosts childhood cancer research

Sep. 13, 2012, 8:27 AM

Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a $250,000 Hyundai Hope on Wheels grant last week for his research into potential drug therapies for Ewing sarcoma, a cancer of the bone.

Hyundai’s most recent donation to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is the largest one-time grant the company has given to a pediatric cancer researcher at Vanderbilt.

To date, Hyundai has awarded more than $560,000 in grants to Children’s Hospital for childhood cancer research.

Patrick Grohar, M.D., celebrates with patient Branden Schwartz at last week’s Hyundai Hope on Wheels event. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Representatives from the automobile maker presented Grohar with a check at a festive event where children affected by cancer placed their painted hands on the Hope on Wheels vehicle to commemorate their brave battles.

This is also the second funding award Grohar, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology, has received in recent weeks. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity for childhood cancer research, also gave Grohar a $100,000 grant for his research on Ewing sarcoma.

Grohar, who arrived at Vanderbilt in January from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), studies sarcomas, specifically focusing on Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bone, often during puberty. He is working on the development of new drug therapies to target the genetic lesion associated with Ewing sarcoma.

“It’s going to take efforts like this to truly make an impact on childhood cancers,” Grohar said. “We will be looking at a series of potential drugs; trying to develop them to target this genetic lesion to maximize the effect and minimize the toxicity to the other cells of the body.”

“We believe this will make an impact on the disease and, hopefully, this support will allow us to translate this compound to the clinic for the treatment of these patients.”

The Hope on Wheels donations to cancer researchers are given each September, which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. More than 10,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year.

“We believe in giving back to our communities. It is core to our values as a brand,” said Zafar Brooks, director of corporate social responsibility for Hyundai Motor America. “This is a time when we can reflect on the children and bring awareness to the issue. And that allows us to provide additional research dollars to one day find a cure so that no child has to hear, ‘you have cancer.’”

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