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St. Jude, Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Partner to Advance Pediatric Cancer Research

NEW YORK – The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on Thursday announced a research collaboration focused on identifying vulnerabilities in pediatric cancers to develop better treatments.

The three institutions will invest more than $60 million over five years to fund the project, called the Pediatric Cancer Dependencies Accelerator. The research team across the three centers includes more than 80 investigators, data scientists, and research staff.

The project aims to improve understanding of pediatric cancers and identify novel treatment targets. The researchers will develop genome editing techniques to identify vulnerabilities across high-risk pediatric brain, blood, and solid cancers. They also aim to better characterize the genetic and epigenetic landscape of pediatric cancers and study combination therapies and mechanisms of drug resistance. Researchers will further create models of high-risk childhood cancers that have poor outcomes and develop approaches to mine, integrate, and share data.

The project will leverage and expand existing pediatric cancer resources previously developed by these institutions, such as the Broad Institute's Pediatric Cancer Dependency Map Project.

"The [Pediatric Cancer Dependencies Accelerator] will uncover novel, and much needed, new therapeutic targets while also revealing the mechanistic underpinnings of a wide range of childhood cancers, providing a treasure trove of data for our research community," Kimberly Stegmaier, co-lead of the project and vice chair of pediatric oncology research at Dana-Farber, said in a statement.

Alongside Stegmaier, the project's other leaders include Charles Roberts, director of St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Francisca Vazquez, director of the Broad Institute's Cancer Dependency Map Project.