Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Power of Social Media

In the past, I've discussed the financial challenges facing those of us who conduct research on rare diseases and the important role private foundations play in facilitating our work.  What I haven't mentioned before is the role social media can play in linking researchers with foundations.

As some of you may know, I'm on Twitter.  Well... sort of.  I've been on Twitter recently about as much as I've been posting on my blog.

But through Twitter, I found the Rally Foundation.  Honestly, I'm not sure I would have found them otherwise.  I'm sure glad I did, though.  They're a fabulous organization.  Founded by Dean Crowe, they have raised a ton of money to support childhood cancer research, and they have supported projects at 35 cancer centers across the country.  I'm honored to be on their medical advisory board.

And today I was thrilled to learn that they are going to fund a new project in my lab.

We have been studying a gene called WT1, which is turned on in a large number of sarcomas, including many cases of Ewing sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma.  The role of WT1 in childhood cancer is unclear.  We have a theory -- that WT1 helps tumors to coax blood vessels into supporting their growth.  Money from Rally Foundation will allow us to test this theory, and to begin the process of identifying drugs that will block the activity of WT1.  Our hope is that, since WT1 is turned off in almost all noncancer cells in growing children, a drug that targets WT1 will be an effective treatment for childhood cancers with very few side effects.

We're obviously a long way from developing such a drug, but with the help of Rally Foundation, we're a step closer today than we were yesterday.

And every journey begins with a single step.

Related Posts:

The Importance of Research Foundations
The Stomp Out Cancer Project
The Sarcoma Program Goes 21st Century


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