- Posted Thursday May 31, 2018
Donors surpass $200,000 goal for TGen children’s brain cancer research
Hope Through Hollis Fund at TGen continues fundraising to build a DIPG tumor atlas; design and initiate clinical trials
PHOENIX, Ariz. — May 31, 2018 — The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is pursuing new leads for children with DIPG — an aggressive type of brain cancer — through its Hope Through Hollis Fund at TGen, which recently topped its initial goal of raising $200,000 for DIPG research.
The research fund is named for Hollis Doherty, a much-loved 7-year-old Phoenix boy who succumbed to DIPG — or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma — in early 2017. The fund topped its Phase I goal with the recent donation of $90,000 from the Tyler Hallsey Foundation, named for a 15-year-old Anthem boy who also passed away from DIPG in 2014, following a valiant 17-month battle against his disease.
In addition, Paul and Cyndi Cozzi of Bonney Lake, Wash., recently contributed $30,000 to TGen DIPG research efforts on behalf of their 18-year-old son Camron, who recently succumbed to this aggressive cancer.
And, an Arizona student group, Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research (SSBTR) recently donated $30,000 for TGen research into DIPG, a type of central nervous system tumor that forms from glial, the supportive tissue of the brain and spinal cord.
“The outpouring of support from the community, SSBTR, and from the friends and families of Hollis, Tyler, Camron and others is nothing short of amazing, and is helping us seek answers that we hope will benefit other children with DIPG in the future,” said Dr. Michael Berens, a TGen Deputy Director, Director of TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and head of TGen DIPG research.
Also, fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks recently helped raise an additional $3,500 for Hope Through Hollis. The D-backs have previously donated $30,000.
TGen’s researchers are building a DIPG tumor atlas, a collection of tumor samples and accompanying analysis, that will help scientists understand the underlying genomic causes of this disease, help identify potential drugs to counter the disease, and eventually lead to clinical trials that would test new treatments en route to eventually find a cure. The $200,000 Phase I goal of the program will enable Dr. Berens to bring together a research team to further the scientific foundation for supporting clinical trials.
“Throughout Hollis’ illness, and since his passing, we have received amazing support from throughout the community,” said Hollis’ father, Shane Doherty, who with his wife, Hollis’ mother Shawnee, have contributed more than $120,000 to TGen DIPG research. “We are in this for the long-haul; to move the needle in the fight to understand and defeat this disease.”
Tyler’s parents, Chris and Kathleen Hallsey, said that before Tyler passed away he expressed a heartfelt desire that the “Whatever It Takes!” movement he inspired would never end. They said contributing to TGen’s DIPG research through Hope Through Hollis helps keep Tyler’s dream alive.
“He asked that we continue to do all we can to provide hope and help people understand that they, too, can do hard things. Whatever it Takes!” Chris Hallsey said. “By spreading the message of hope, love and courage, Tyler hoped to make the world a better place, where children diagnosed with DIPG and other types of cancer are given hope for a future full of health and success.”
DIPG efforts recently got a social media boost from the D-backs, who accepted a prod from their rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to join the #LemonFaceChallenge, https://twitter.com/dbacks/status/985588208812486656?s=12, a national effort to raise awareness of DIPG.
“We’ve been proudly associated with TGen since their arrival to the Valley because we believe in their research and results,” said D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall, who is a member of TGen’s National Pancreatic Cancer Advisory board. “We will continue to be committed to their mission as their impact grows in bettering the lives of children. Tyler and Hollis were an important part of our D-backs family, as our players and front office members cherished their time with these special young men.”
About 350 children and their families receive a DIPG diagnosis each year. The average survival following diagnosis is one year. May 17 was the first DIPG Awareness Day in Arizona and more than 20 other states. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month.
For more information about Hope Through Hollis Fund at TGen, please visit: www.tgen.org/hollis
For more information about the Tyler Hallsey Foundation, please visit: www.tylerhallseyfoundation.com
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Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
TGen Senior Science Writer