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Childhood cancer research grant awarded to the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital

It takes life-saving research and access to clinical trials to help children with cancer. The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, awarded an infrastructure grant of $47,000 to the Biopathology Center (BPC), housed in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. The Foundation's infrastructure grants provide institutions with resources to enable them to conduct more research and enroll more kids in ongoing clinical trials their best hope for a cure.

Worldwide, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year and it remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States. With only 4 percent of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, and more than 70 percent of children receiving treatment through clinical trials, St. Baldrick's Foundation infrastructure grants are critical to finding cures for all childhood cancers.

"We are very thankful for the recent award provided to us by the St. Baldrick's Foundation," said Nilsa C. Ramirez, M.D., Medical Director of the BPC and Director of Surgical Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Nationwide Children's. "This award will be used to purchase the Cray CX1-iWS system to act as a Digital Pathology Analytics Engine (DPAE), providing an electronic quality assurance program. This system will analyze tissue images using computer algorithms that have been built and tested at our BPC. As new images are generated, the DPAE will automatically review and identify flaws prior to sharing images with the expert pathologists. The use of the DPAE will significantly accelerate the pace of providing high quality whole slide images by reducing technician time and allowing us to automatically evaluate image quality. These images are analyzed for various purposes, including evaluation of material used in cutting edge pediatric translational research efforts, many associated with Children's Oncology Group (COG) sponsored clinical treatment trials."

Ramirez, who is also on the faculty of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, explained that the BPC currently utilizes 10 imaging robots to generate whole slide images for several National Cancer Institute sponsored translational research efforts and three cancer cooperative groups, including the COG. Some of the more sophisticated equipment that complements the robots was also purchased in previous years using similar St. Baldrick's Foundation awards. The addition of the DPAE will allow the BPC to efficiently utilize the imaging robots and improve the turn-around time of the quality assurance process. These virtual images will subsequently be shared with expert pathologists via the Virtual Imaging for Pathology, Education & Research (VIPER) web-based application developed by the BPC.

"For us, it is an honor to be the recipient of St. Baldrick's Foundation infrastructure grants, as these awards assist us in providing cutting edge digital pathology services to numerous national and international investigators involved in pediatric oncology research," Ramirez added.

The infrastructure grants, combined with the more than $19.6 million awarded in June, bring the St. Baldrick's Foundation's funding total to more than $21 million awarded in 2011. Infrastructure grants were awarded based on the need of the institution and its patients, anticipated results of the grant and local participation in St. Baldrick's events.

Contact: Erin Pope
Nationwide Children's Hospital

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