NASCAR star Jeff Gordon backs precision medicine grant for kids
The Sohn Conference Foundation on Tuesday announced the Jeff Gordon & Sohn Precision Medicine Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Funded by a $200,000 grant from the Sohn Conference Foundation, the program will provide access to innovative precision medicine by linking patients to advanced drug therapies that improve their ability to survive and thrive with as few side effects as possible.
“We’ve come a long way in treating children with cancer, but we won’t be satisfied until every child not only survives cancer, but lives a long, healthy life,” said Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and founder of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. “Thanks to this grant, pediatric cancer patients now have a dedicated advocate in their corner that is actively pursuing the most innovative treatments. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the Sohn Conference Foundation to bring precision medicine to New York City’s children.”
The grant demonstrates the Sohn Conference Foundation’s continued commitment to bringing the best precision medicine to New York City area hospitals and builds off previous initiatives to open genomic testing to all tri-state area children with high-risk cancers, the foundation said.
The Jeff Gordon & Sohn Precision Medicine Fund will support the identification of targeted therapies for children who do not respond to conventional therapies, the foundation said. This work is particularly important in the pediatric space because most cancer therapies are only approved for adult cancers, not childhood cancers or for use in children.
Memorial Sloan Kettering has a genomic testing program for its pediatric cancer patients and, with this grant, it will now be able to take better advantage of this information by dedicating staff time to pursuing drugs that target those mutations even if those drugs are not currently approved for children, the foundation said.
“When we identify an appropriate therapy for a pediatric patient that is not available in existing clinical trials, we relentlessly pursue that therapy through creative means, such as compassionate use petitions or single patient use studies,” said Andrew Kung, MD, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “These individualized approaches, which are tailored to each patient’s unique need, require significant resources, so we are grateful for the vision of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and the Sohn Conference Foundation. Their generosity will help us surmount formidable barriers to delivering innovative new therapies to children who desperately need them.”
Precision medicine is an exceptionally promising opportunity to give children every tool possible to beat cancer, added Evan Sohn, vice president of the Sohn Conference Foundation.
“Despite its clear benefits, the effort to find the drug to match the genetic mutation is rarely covered by insurance and receives no government funding, so our foundation is committed to making this potentially life-saving option available to all children who need it,” Sohn said. “The Jeff Gordon & Sohn Precision Medicine Fund will make an immediate, tangible impact on kids fighting cancer in New York City.”