Sunset High School students selected for cc-TDI Internships

Students selected in memory of Nathalie Traller and Sam Day.

[Press Release] PORTLAND, OR –APRIL 22, 2018 –Sunset High School and the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (cc-TDI) have announced the 2018 Nathalie Traller & Sam Day Sunset High cc-TDI Intern: Audrey Huelskamp and Mayukha Kashyap.

“Creativity and mathematics fluency are the key to innovative new cures for childhood cancer,” remarks cc-TDI director Dr. Charles Keller. Those familiar with childhood & adolescent sarcomas may need no convincing that a deep biological understanding and better drugs are needed for these pediatric cancers. On the adult side of cancer, 12 or more effective drugs are FDA approved for every year, yet only 6 FDA-approved drugs have been intentionally developed for childhood cancer since 1978 (in 39 years) –none of which are for sarcoma.

cc-TDI is a unique non-profit organization focused on the ‘preclinical gap’ in childhood cancer research. Their mission is to bridge scientific discovery and the initiation of clinical trials. This concept was emphasized in the Institute of Medicine Report, Making Better Drugs for Children with Cancer in 2005. cc-TDI now fills this needed role.

The cc-TDI research team is exploring and testing state-of-the-art treatment options for the most urgent issues facing children with cancer. Biologists and bio-medical engineers work closely on teams to identify targets on cancer cells and determine how to safely deliver effective treatments. By proving these methods in the laboratory, their teamcan deliver smart, hope-filled discoveries to be prioritized in clinical trials for kids. Working in our own freestanding research institution allows us to act swiftly and nimbly to achieve results—bringing cost control, speed, purpose, and focus to translate effective treatments into the clinic. To get there, we perform basic science and translational research in our industrial modern lab site (a paint factory remodeled by Nike as an off-site creative space), adjacent to the Silicon Forest in Oregon.The model is working: cc-TDI has moved drugs into 3 national clinical trials in children’s hospitals all across North America over the last three years.

“Bold young, math-empowered minds are the rocket fuel for research innovation -and cc-TDI is honored to provide Sunset High School students and alumni this opportunity to learn first-hand about childhood cancer biology, and to be part of developing new therapies for children & teens touched by cancer like sarcomas,” says Dr. Keller.

Nathalie Traller was a Sunset Apollo up through her Junior year when on October 5th, she “completed her race” with a rare sarcoma, Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS) that has no known chemotherapy. While countless surgeries and tough symptoms presented challenges, Nathalie prized being at Sunset with her fellow students above all else. She was intent on heading to college, motivated to become a pediatric oncology nurse and kept her grades strong. She loved football and basketball games, drama performances, Apollo Unplugged, studying Japanese and art. Twice she served as the Cram the Stands for Cancer Ambassador and served in Student Leadership where she helped to organize a blood drive. She shone as a Sophomore Homecoming Princess and took pride in cheering her many friends in Cross Country. She blogged about the challenges of fighting cancer and how to reach out to others with differences. It was clear she impacted a broad cross section of the Sunset student body through strength, courage, and kindness.

Sam Day had a spirit that could energize a crowd and engage a room full of professionals. He was a compassionate leader with a creative and absorbent mind, soaking in information about world history and politics while movies like Lord of the Rings gave him deep ideas to ponder. If asked what was on his mind, he might have disclosed his latest business scheme or thoughts on how to turn Star Wars into a middle school drama production. Close friends and family have all heard him say, “I want to change the world.”

Diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 9 caused him to lose his left leg and part of his right foot, excluding him from the sports he loved. He lived with cancer and its toxic treatments for six years, hoping research would create an opportunity for survival. As an upcoming Apollo, Sam looked forward to participating in leadership, debate, business, and world history. He dreamed of someday being healthy enough to compete on Sunset High School’s water polo team. Sam died from cancer just one week before his freshman year at Sunset. The world shouldn’t have to lose kids who love life so much.

Funding for the fellowship was made possible via crowdfunding on the innovative platform, Consano.org. Molly Lindquist, founder of Consano, comments, “I continued to be inspired by the families who take great loss and channel it into hope and healing for others. I’m excited to see the impact the Nathalie Traller & Sam Day Sunset High cc-TDI Interns will make in the world!”

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About 4Nathalie

4Nathalie is a community advocacy group inspired by the life of Nathalie Traller, committed to advancing efforts she began. This passionate community has advocated for increased access to and development of cancer treatments for young people, funded basic science research in Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (Kick ASPS!) and other rare cancers, and committed itself to kindly disrupt the status quo that Nathalie found to be in need of change.

About Sam Day Foundation

The brutality of cancer treatment is something kids should never have to experience. But in September 2010, nine-year old Sam Day was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare and relentless bone cancer. For six years Sam endured multiple treatment regimens, clinical trials, and 20 surgeries. During his six-year battle, Sam’s family and friends began to raise funds for the development of a targeted drug for Ewing Sarcoma in the hopes that Sam would live long enough to receive that new and promising treatment. Sam died on August 27th, 2016 at age 15, never having the opportunity to receive that breakthrough drug.

The Sam Day Foundation was formed in response to the commitment of a community of people who loved Sam and are compelled to fight for other young people enduring treatment for rare, hard-to-treat cancers. We strive to fund research for rare pediatric cancers and life-giving experiences so all kids with cancer can survive and live well.

About Consano

Consano (www.consano.org), which means “to heal” in Latin, is a non-profit crowdfunding platform dedicated to funding innovative medical research. Consano enables patients and families touched by a health issue to share their stories and rally their communities to raise money for the research that matters to them without the time or money required to start their own foundation.

About Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute

The Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (cc-TDI, www.cc-tdi.org) is a unique non-profit organization focused on the ‘preclinical gap’ in childhood cancer research. Our mission is to bridge scientific discovery and the initiation of clinical trials. Through our efforts, we will provide evidence-based testing for the selection of new drugs to be used in childhood cancer clinical trials, thus seeding pediatric Phase I and II trials. This concept was emphasized in the Institute of Medicine Report, Making Better Drugs for Children with Cancer in 2005. Our longstanding work with mouse models of brain tumors and sarcomas is the cornerstone for basic science & target discovery and our mission. The cc-TDI research team is led by Scientific Director Dr. Charles Keller who follows in the footsteps of his mentor, 2007Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi. The cc-TDI laboratory is based on the premise of a non-profit multidisciplinary biotech and is thus located in between the Silicon Forest in Beaverton, OR (Intel Headquarters) and the Portland-area medical center. Our industrial-modern 4600 ft2BSL wet lab facility is a former 70-year old paint factory remodeled by Nike as an off-site creative space –an ideal setting to spark innovation.

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