CancerFree KIDS Awards Grant to Dr. Julio C. Barredo

Thanks to a grassroots fundraising effort, Julio C. Barredo, M.D., the Director of Children’s Cancer Programs at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a grant to help find new treatments and cures to battle pediatric cancers.

Barredo’s grant application – “Targeting the NEDD8 Pathway for Therapeutic Gain in ALL” – was selected for a grant from the Ohio-based non-profit organization CancerFree KIDS, whose mission is to eradicate cancer as a life-threatening illness in children by funding promising research that might otherwise go unfunded.

“CancerFree KIDS’ goal is to provide the seed money for innovative pediatric cancer research that has the potential to lead to targeted therapies and, ultimately, a cure,” said Ellen Flannery, Founder and Executive Director of CancerFree KIDS. “Dr. Barredo is conducting exciting research that could have very positive impact on children with leukemia in the very near future. We are excited to provide the funding for such a promising study.”

CancerFree KIDS began accepting grant applications from UM several years ago because of a fundraising event in the Miami area that benefits the organization.

Pinecrest residents Jorge and Linda Martinez became supporters of CancerFree KIDS after their nephew, Mick, then 5 years old, was diagnosed in 2007 with a Glioblastoma, an aggressive, fast-growing tumor for which there are few treatment options and no known cure.

In honor of his fight and survival, and to raise money for research, they started planning a local event based on CancerFree KIDS’ signature event held each year in Ohio, called the Butterfly Walk and 5K.

They named their event the “Reason to Run 5K Run/Walk and Family Event” in 2008, and have held it every year since. Hundreds of people turn out each fall at the Deering Estate at Cutler with the goal of raising $100,000 to fund research for childhood cancers.

After researching various charities, the Martinez family decided they wanted the proceeds from the event to benefit local cancer researchers.

CancerFree KIDS helped to connect their fundraiser with researchers at UM.

“For us, they’ve been a great partner,” Linda Martinez said. “We know they are great stewards of the money raised, we know they are funding research that wouldn’t get done otherwise.”

CancerFree KIDS was founded by Ellen and Sam Flannery after their daughter was diagnosed with cancer in both of her eyes at 5 months of age. Today, thanks to cancer research, their daughter is a healthy high school student.

Through 2013, the organization has funded $2 million for 61 research grants.

Thanks to the success of the Reason to Run event, four of those grants have been to UM researchers, including Regina Graham, Ph.D, research assistant professor and Research Director of the UM Brain Tumor Initiative, and three grants to Dr. Barredo for research being conducted at the Pediatric Cancer Institute at Sylvester.

The new funding will help Barredo continue research he is doing with Ronan Swords, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, the Pap Corps Endowed Professor in Leukemia and the leader of the adult leukemia program at Sylvester.

Barredo says they are the first to discover that a drug currently in clinical trials for adult patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is also effective in pre-clinical models of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of leukemia in children.

“The money we will receive is going to help us complete these studies in the lab, particularly additional animal studies, so that in a year or so, we can start a phase I clinical trial using this drug in patients with ALL,” said Barredo, who is also professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology, the Toppel Family Chair in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Associate Chair for Basic Research, Holtz Children’s Hospital.

For more information on “Reason to Run,” visit the group’s website at

For more on CancerFree KIDS, visit

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