University of Florida cancer researcher Wesley E. Bolch, Ph.D., has been awarded a $250,000 2012 Hyundai Hope Grant to support his research focusing on bone tumors in pediatric patients.
Hyundai Hope of Wheels representatives and Gainesville-area Hyundai dealers presented the award to Bolch at a Sept. 26 Handprint Ceremony at the Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida. Young cancer patients, who attended the event, placed their handprints on a white 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe to raise awareness for childhood cancer.
Bolch is a professor in UF’s J. Crayton Pruitt Family department of biomedical engineering, with a joint appointment in the nuclear engineering program at the department of materials science and engineering. He is also a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center.
“The team is honored to be presented with this award and we are excited about the potential for saving lives of children afflicted with this form of cancer,” said Bolch.
For past eight years, Bolch has worked on polymer-based delivery of therapy radionuclides for bone cancer with pre-clinical testing with Rowan Milner, Ph.D., of the department of small animal clinical sciences. UF has a unique collaboration among pediatric oncology, radiation oncology, veterinary sciences, radiological and biomedical engineering, chemistry and materials engineering, which facilitates productive and cutting edge research.
Bolch‘s interdisciplinary team is working on a technique to deliver radionuclides directly to bone tumors and thus spare normal bone tissue in children.
“New treatments for osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma are long overdue,” said William Slayton, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at the UF College of Medicine. “We are sincerely grateful to Hyundai for the opportunity to find this breakthrough.”
Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in children, but despite aggressive chemotherapy and surgery, there has been little change in patient prognosis over the past 30 years, said Joanne Lagmay, M.D., a clinical assistant professor in pediatric hematology/oncology at the UF College of Medicine.
“With the generous support of Hyundai Hope on Wheels, we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of novel treatment discoveries to cure osteosarcoma,” said Lagmay. “Our patients, their families, and everyone fighting to cure this cancer, are very grateful for this support.”
Bolch is one of 41 recipients of Hope On Wheels’ 2012 Hyundai Hope Grants. In all, $10.25 million will be awarded in grants in September, which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The competitive grant program was open to all eligible pediatric cancer researchers at Children’s Oncology Group Institutions.
“At Hyundai, our goal is for a child to never again have to hear the words ‘you have cancer,’” said John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “Through the support of our dealers, hospital partners, and online community, this goal is attainable as we join together for a cure. We congratulate and commend each institution for their important and life-changing work, and thank our supporters for their continued efforts.”
The Hyundai Hope Grant award amount was increased this year from $100,000 to $250,000. Hyundai Hope On Wheels is the united effort of Hyundai Motor America and its more than 800 U.S. dealers to raise awareness for childhood cancer and celebrate the lives of children battling the disease. For 2012, Hyundai Hope On Wheels plans to surpass $57 million in total donations to childhood cancer research since the program began in 1998.