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Jun 10

The Cancer Research Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2010 Fletcher Scholars Award has been granted to Dr. John Cunningham, M.D. to support a project titled "Characterization of the nuclear architecture of leukemia stem cells"


In 1988, the Cancer Research Foundation received a large donation from the estate of Eugene and Dorothy S. Fletcher. Under the terms of their trust, this money was "to be held as a permanent fund to be known as the Eugene and Dorothy Fletcher Memorial Endowment with income only to be used for laboratory research." Since that time, the income earned from the endowment has been used to fund individual senior scientists doing cancer research with the potential to provide game-changing results and knowledge.

John M. Cunningham, M.D.This year's grantee, Dr. John M. Cunningham, M.D., is the Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital and a Professor of Pediatrics, Physiology and Stem Cell Research. He is an internationally known authority on childhood cancers and blood diseases and a leader in the research and use of pediatric stem cell transplantation.

Dr. Cunningham is already well known to the CRF and its donors.  He serves as one of the principal investigators on the Interdisciplinary Leukemia Project, on which the CRF is a lead funder. The research supported by the 2010 Fletcher Award, "Characterization of the Nuclear Architecture of Leukemia Stem Cells" builds on findings already indicated by that larger undertaking.

Studies pursued as a part of the first year of the Cancer Research Foundation-funded t-AML project suggest that regulation of hematopoietic stem cells is dependent on nuclear architecture, i.e. the spatial organization of genes and other structures found within the nucleus of cells. The goal of Dr. Cunningham's Fletcher Scholar's project is to determine whether t-AML stem cells have a unique nuclear architecture that contributes to the initiation and progression of leukemia as well as the resistance of leukemia stem cells to chemotherapy. Dr. Cunningham posits that it is within the spatial architecture of nuclear structures that gene regulatory networks operate. Learn more about this project....

The fact that this project is building on work that the CRF is currently funding is particularly gratifying. Our mission is to fund new ideas and directions in cancer science in the hopes of bringing about watershed events in the battle against cancer. Being able to leverage funding and research that is already underway allows the CRF to make particularly potent grants, allowing a seasoned scientist to pursue a new idea or a new course of action that may not follow directly the work he or she has followed in the past, yet has the potential to yield tremendous results.