Friday, April 08, 2011

Aflac Commits $1.06 Million for Cancer Researcher Scholarships

/PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the company that helps employers enhance benefits offerings to employees, today announced it will donate a total of $1,060,000 to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to help defray the costs facing cancer researchers. The three-year scholarship awards focus on career development, scholar-in-training; a special program for high school students, and a task force on pediatric oncology. The company is announcing the scholarships this evening at the AACR-Aflac Incorporated Scholar Awards Reception in Orlando, Florida. A total of 43 researchers will receive scholarship funds from an initial installment of $265,000.

"Finding a cure for cancer has been our primary philanthropic cause for more than 15 years," Aflac Foundation President Kathelen Amos said. "Finding a cure begins with making sure our up-and-coming researchers have the tools they need to make a difference. We are honored to support the AACR any way we can."

Since 1997, Aflac and the American Association for Cancer Research have been partners in the fight against cancer. The collaborative efforts focus primarily on better understanding of cancer science, especially as it relates to childhood cancers. Aflac has provided scholarships for more than 600 young researchers since the inception of its partnership with AACR, including Dr. Charles Mullighan from St. Jude's Children's Hospital (see bio below).

"The Aflac award has provided crucial support in the initial stages of my career as an independent investigator," Dr. Mullighan said. "The award allowed me to pursue high risk studies examining the genetics of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and the development of novel mouse models of ALL. These are clinically relevant studies as they have defined new genetic changes in this disease and helped elucidate their contribution to leukemogenesis."

In addition to the AACR Scholarships, since 1995, Aflac has raised and donated more than $62 million for the treatment and research of childhood cancer.

Facts about pediatric cancers

* Cancer is the leading cause of death in children under age 15. American Cancer Society (ACS 2010)
* Leukemia causes one-third of childhood cancer deaths. (ACS 2010)
* Mortality rates for childhood cancer have declined by 55 percent since 1975. (ACS 2008)
* There are estimated to be at least 270,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States.

2011 Scholarship Recipients

* Antonio L. Amelio, PhD - Scripps Institute, Florida
* Guillermo Armaiz Pena, PhD – University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center
* Kofi Asomaning, MD – Harvard School of Public Health
* Gregor M. Balaburski, PhD – Fox Chase Cancer Center
* Daniel W. Bowles, MD - University of Colorado School of Medicine
* J. Chad Brenner, Graduate – University of Michigan
* Sara A. Byron, PhD - Translational Genomics Research Institute
* Qi Cao, PHD – University of Michigan
* Tooba A. Cheema, PhD – Massachusetts General Hospital
* Ru Chen, PHD - UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
* Brooke C. Christensen, PhD – Brown University
* Leonie H.A.M de Wilt, MSc – Virginia University Medical Center
* Jan B. Egan, PhD – Mayo Clinic, Arizona
* Inna V. Fedorenko, Graduate - H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Ctr. & Res. Inst.
* Dinorah Friedmann-Morvinski, PhD - Salk Inst. Cancer Ctr.
* Nicolas N. Garnier, MSc - Lady Davis Institute, JGH
* Hossien A. Hamed, BS - Virginia Commonwealth University
* Linda Holmfeldt, PhD - St Jude Children's Research Hospital
* Shu-hao Hsu, Graduate – Ohio State University
* Jae Hong Im, PhD – University of Oxford
* Yuqi Jing, PhD - University Of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
* Neil Johnson, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Amjad P. Khan, PhD - University of Michigan Medical School
* Hyung-Gu Kim, PhD - Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
* James L. LaBelle, MD, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Andrea Lai, Graduate – McGill University
* Jill E. Larsen, PhD - UT Southwestern Medical Center
* Melissa K. McConechy. BS - BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia
* Andrew S. Moore, MBBS – The Institute of Cancer Research
* Britney L. Moss, Graduate – Washington University School of Medicine
* Min Ni, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Wen-Bin Ou, PhD – Brigham and Women's Hospital
* John R. Prensner, Graduate – University of Michigan
* Jeanine M.L. Roodhart, MD – University Medical Center Utrecht
* Mike R. Russell, PhD – Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
* Takaomi Sanda, MD, PhD – Dana Farber Cancer Institute
* Prasanna K. Santhekadur, PhD – Virginia Commonwealth University
* Punit Saraon, PhD – University of Toronto/Mount Sinai Hospital
* Timothy K. Starr, PhD - Univ. of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Ctr.
* Li Tao, MD - Univ. of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Ctr.
* Jose T. Thaiparambil, PhD - Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
* Chery Whipple, PhD - Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Ctr.
* Kenichi Yoshida, MD - Cancer Genomics Project, The University of Tokyo

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