Dater Foundation Success Stories

Gene Therapy Research in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital

Some grant requests are easy for Dater Foundation directors to evaluate.  Others require more thought, a discussion about the foundation’s grantmaking philosophy, and even a leap of faith.  One of those was a request from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2001.

Cincinnati Children’s was seeking $250,000 to develop and implement several human gene therapy trials to seek cures for cancer, brain tumors and blood diseases such as Fanconi anemia and sickle cell disease.  According to hospital leaders, these groundbreaking studies had the potential to change the outcome for children with these diseases and give them and their families hope for a cure and a healthy future, but without Dater’s support, the studies may never happen.

With the foundation’s annual grants totaling about $2 million and the median grant at $10,000, this request was clearly in another stratosphere.

“Our first reaction was no way… that’s not us,” said Bruce Krone, foundation director and president.  “One director said it felt like we’d be pouring a glass of water on a raging fire.”

But they kept talking about it and considering the vision Cincinnati Children’s held in bringing hope and cures to children who so desperately needed it.  “Eventually, we decided that there was room within our grantmaking philosophy to consider this,” Krone said.  “So, we took a deep breath and committed $250,000 over five years.”

It turns out that leap of faith was well placed. 

Because of the Dater Foundation’s support, scientists in the Division of Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology at Cincinnati Children’s have used genetic approaches to make great progress in combating serious diseases of the blood and cancer.  They have completed a clinical gene therapy study for children with Fanconi anemia and another gene therapy study for children and adults with high risk brain tumors. 

On a recent visit to the medical center, one foundation director gazed at the expanse and sophistication of the hospital complex and suggested that the Dater Foundation dollars couldn’t have been very significant.

“Not so,” replied Franklin O. Smith III, MD, director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Cincinnati Children’s. “The support of the Dater Foundation was crucial to the project’s success. It not only got the project started, it demonstrated community support and, ultimately, attracted much-needed government research funding, including from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.”

“Ongoing support from the Dater Foundation will help us continue our work to further innovative therapies for children with cancer and diseases of the blood,” Smith said.

The Foundation committed an additional $50,000 in its 2006-07 fiscal year, and recently made a new five-year, $250,000 commitment to continue its support through 2012.

Additional information about the research work being done appears on Cincinnati Children's web site.

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