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Researchers Receive Grants from St. Baldrick’s Foundation Amid Pandemic

Lauri Linder and Xiaoyang Zhang
Lauri Linder, PhD, APRN, CPON and Xiaoyang Zhang, PhD

Two researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) received awards from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund innovative childhood cancer research. Lauri Linder, PhD, APRN, CPON, is a researcher at HCI, associate professor with the College of Nursing at the U of U, and clinical nurse specialist at Primary Children’s Hospital, where she furthers her research in childhood cancers. Xiaoyang Zhang, PhD, is also a researcher at HCI and is assistant professor of oncological sciences at the U of U. Linder and Zhang are among the recipients of 53 St. Baldrick’s grants funded in the United States this year.

Every year since 2005, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds researchers studying promising ideas to improve outcomes in childhood cancer. This year, despite the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation awarded $12.9 million to researchers across the country to help accelerate new approaches to treating this devastating disease.

With pain being one of the most prevalent and distressing symptoms for children with cancer, Linder is using the grant from St. Baldrick’s Foundation to further develop a game-based symptom reporting app to help children communicate and record their pain. The U of U’s nationally recognized Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab) will provide programming support for this study.

"I am beyond delighted to have received this funding support," Linder said. "Completing this project will position us for a larger project to improve pain management and quality of life for children receiving cancer treatment."

Zhang will study a new potential therapeutic target in medulloblastoma, an aggressive childhood brain tumor, by using cutting-edge technologies and models.

"We are excited about the project as the findings may provide a new way to treat this aggressive childhood brain tumor," Zhang said. "We will also have a great opportunity to collaborate with brain tumor experts like Dr. Samuel Cheshier at HCI throughout the project."

Cancer touches all of us.