Microscope | May 2018

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Stephen Hunger, M.D.

Innovative Research Depends On Your Support

The Leukemia Research Foundation (LRF) provides one year grants up to $100,000 to New Investigators. Research funding from the LRF contributes to the current blood cancer body of knowledge to help find a cure and advances the careers of New Investigators who are able to continue promising research projects that lead them to additional funding from the NIH.

For example, Dr. Stephen Hunger was funded by the LRF in 1997-1998. His research and clinical career has focused on developing a better understanding of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dr. Hunger is now a nationally-regarded children’s cancer specialist and, in the fall of 2014, he became Chief of Oncology and Director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

“The Leukemia Research Foundation supported my research early in my career. That funding allowed me to obtain preliminary data that was needed for me to compete successfully for larger grants from the NIH and other national agencies. This early support from the LRF was essential to my career development and helped me focus on developing better treatments for leukemia. Our challenge moving forward is to find treatments to cure the remaining 10% to 15% of children who still die of ALL. Given our growing knowledge of the disease, I’m confident we will achieve that goal.”

As we approach the end of the fiscal year, the LRF continues to strive to fund as many research projects as possible, based on our fundraising success. With your help we can do more! Please make your generous gift before June 30 by clicking here. Thank you for helping to advance today’s most daring discoveries into lifesaving treatments for all blood cancers.


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Ulrich Steidl, M.D., Ph.D.

LRF-funded Researcher Studies Promising New Drug for AML and MDS Patients

A team of Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers led by Ulrich Steidl, M.D., Ph.D., has been studying a new medication that has shown promising results in disabling the proteins that allow cancer cells to multiple unchecked.

Results published in Science Translational Medicine show that the median survival rate was tripled for mice implanted with human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. The results have led to a PhaseI/II clinical trial for patients who have advanced AML and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) currently taking place at Montefiore Health System in New York. See more about this exciting research here. A contributor to this study is Brita Will, Ph.D., who is currently being funded by the LRF.

Doctor Steidl's research project titled Transcriptional Regulation of Leukemia Stem Cells in PU.1 Knockdown-Induced Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) was funded by the LRF in 2008 and he is a member of the LRF’s Medical Advisory Board. Information on the research project LRF funded can be found here.

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Wei Du, M.D., Ph.D.

LRF Supports Exciting Research at West Virginia University

Wei Du, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, leads a team of researchers at the West Virginia University (WVU) Cancer Institute and the WVU School of Pharmacy that is trying to determine why some people diagnosed with leukemia do not respond to standard treatments. The LRF is currently funding Dr. Du’s research with a $100,000 grant.

Findings thus far indicate that a signaling molecule named Cdc42 plays a role in the activity of stem cells and is a target for treatment. Success in this research could lead to a new method of stem cell harvest and transplantation to aid in treatment of leukemia and other blood cancers. Click here to read more on this innovative research.



Free Program for Patients, Families and Caregivers

The latest advances in blood cancer research, treatment and care will be presented by leaders in the field at the 14th Annual Treatment Options for Blood Cancer Patients Conference on Saturday, May 19 at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, Illinois. The program is moderated by Dr. Patrick Stiff, Director of the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at Loyola University Medical Center and LRF Medical Advisory Board Chairman. In addition to Dr. Stiff, there will be six experts presenting specific blood cancer topics.

See the agenda and register online on the LRF’s website today.

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Shopping to Fight Blood Cancers

Mother’s Day is coming soon. Do you still have some shopping to do? We have the perfect resource for you. ShoppingGives.com helps the LRF raise money by turning everyday shopping into support in the fight against all blood cancers. You can shop the brands you know and trust. The LRF receives a donation for every purchase you make through ShoppingGives.com.

Get started now by clicking this link to shop online: https://shoppinggives.com/leukemia-research-foundation/LRF.

  • Click “Shop and Give Back.”
  • There you will find hundreds of coupons and the percentage of your purchase that will be donated to the LRF. Click a coupon to be taken to your selected online store or use search to connect to your favorite retailer.
  • Shop online as you normally would and a portion of your purchase is donated to the LRF!
Simple and easy. Happy shopping! 



Wintrust Welcomed as Presenting Sponsor of the ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk

Wintrust, a financial services company based in Rosemont, Ill., has signed on to be Presenting Sponsor of the 14th Annual ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk, benefitting the LRF. Sponsors of the ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk help the LRF fund critical research into the cause of and cure for blood cancers, as well as educate patients, families and caregivers about these diseases and provide patient financial assistance.

“We’re Chicago’s Bank and that means doing our part to support the organizations that are improving this area,” said Wintrust President, CEO & Founder Edward J. Wehmer. “We’re honored to be the Presenting Sponsor of the ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk and to do our part to contribute to the great work of the Leukemia Research Foundation.”

Read ore about Wintrust’s event sponsorship in the press release on the LRF website.

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50 Years of Dedicated Volunteering

Next month the Goland-Orenstein-Sherman (GOS) Memorial Chapter of the LRF will recognize its 50 years of volunteering. In 2018 the GOS Chapter will surpass the $5 million mark in funds raised throughout its existence. That’s an incredible $100,000 per year for 50 years!

Thank you to the members and supporters of the GOS Chapter. Your dedication to our mission is very much appreciated!


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Linda Rivard, RN, BSN, CPON

Former LRF Nurse of the Year Develops Survivors Program

National Nurses Week begins Sunday, May 6. In honor of nurses everywhere, especially hematology/oncology nurses, we would like to introduce you to Linda Rivard, RN, BSN, CPON. She is a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She’s the mother of leukemia survivor named Billy and a former LRF Nurse of the Year. Nurse Rivard is also the Coordinator of the Pediatric Oncology Survivorship in Transition (POST) program, a program that she developed for Advocate Children’s Hospital, based on her experiences with treatment of her son’s leukemia. The POST program was recently the subject of an article in the Daily Southtown, a newspaper that covers the southern Chicago suburbs.

When and why did you decide to become a nurse? Any why oncology?

"I became a nurse by suggestion really. I took an anatomy/physiology class in college and I did very well in the class. I had not considered becoming a nurse until my instructor took me aside and suggested that I might be good at it. So I pursued nursing. My career started in internal medicine, specifically gerontology. I worked for a few years, then started a family and took time off. My child Billy was diagnosed with leukemia so his care became my job.

When my son’s treatment was over I started looking for a job. An administrator at Advocate also had a child who was diagnosed with leukemia and one day she asked me what happens when treatment is done. I told her about the survivorship program that I had experienced during my son’s treatment and asked if she had ever considered starting one at Advocate. The administrator knew I was a nurse and one day she asked me if I would like to come back to Advocate and start a survivorship program there. I had read a book given to me about survivorship during my son’s treatment and subsequently did a lot of research on my own. So when the opportunity to develop a program at Advocate was offered, I was ready. I ended up developing the program we call POST."

What’s a typical day like for an oncology nurse?

"A lot of the work I do in the POST program is sort of behind the scenes. We only have clinic two days a week so between times I’m putting together survivorship care plans, assembling treatment summaries, getting orders ready and things like that. Most of my patients are 15 years or older, so we help them navigate through the issues they may need to handle in the adult world in college and beyond. My patients may need help in the future with cardiology issues, reproductive health or endocrine issues. The POST program helps prepare them to advocate for themselves and meet future challenges as a young adult if they arise."

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

"Helping these survivors grow into healthy, productive young adults and helping them learn to be advocates for themselves. These young people have already been through a lot and as young 20-year-olds or post college age, they have things to consider health-wise that other young people do not. They may have to continue some kind of maintenance or have follow up testing and do all of that in a new community or a new city. The POST program gives them the tools they need to be successful."

What was the most important or poignant lesson a patient or caregiver
has taught you?

"There are three things that stand out.

  1. Always listen.
  2. There are no rules when it comes to cancer.
  3. Never judge.

I’ve seen treatment from the point of view of an oncology nurse and as the mother of a patient. If you listen with empathy, patients and family will tell you what they need or how things are going.

Cancer doesn’t operate within a plan or on a schedule. So we as professionals do our best to handle what’s happening in the present and plan for what could happen in the future.

Cancer changes people. Just as patients do not complete treatment in the same way, so it is with families. Everyone copes in their own way as best they can. There can be no judging of how things are going or how they are coping.

What advice would you give a first-year nursing student?

"One thing I would tell them is listen, especially if they are considering pediatric oncology because often you have two patients to consider, one is the person with the diagnosis and the other is the parents or caregiver. Both have different needs and a good nurse must provide care in both areas. Sometimes you don’t have to have the answer, you just have to listen.

The other things I would advise is to enjoy what they are doing and have fun because the children are wonderful. They’ve had lots of things thrown at them and they just have the best spirit and the best outlook on life. We all can learn from them."

Read more about Nurse Rivard and the POST program in the article here.


May 6
Jessica Shayne Magid "Chai" Chapter
Zumbathon for LRF

May 19
Treatment Options for
Blood Cancer Patients Conference

May 19
Phillip "Poppie" Gaston Chapter
The Best of Music Benefit Concert

June 2
Donald Davidson-Alan Brin
Memorial Chapter
Raffle for Research

June  9
John & Tony's All Day Fundraiser
with the Nicholas Orjuela "Little Lefty"
Memorial Chapter

June 21
ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk

August 3-5
Kingfish Shootout
Carrabelle, Florida

August 10
Joey's Angels Chapter
17th Angels in the Fairway Golf Outing

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

September 30
72nd Annual Medical Awards Luncheon

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Leukemia Research Foundation

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