Duke doc wins grant to study childhood cancer

Posted September 10, 2009 7:55 a.m. EDT

— A doctor at Duke University Medical Center was selected by the St. Baldrick's foundation to study childhood leukemia.

Dr. Jennifer Walker is one of 22 doctors to receive fellowships from the foundation, which is the world's largest volunteer-run fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

The two-year, $137,392 award will let Walker study how genetic abnormalities affect patient response to treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML.

AML has a five-survival rate of only 45 percent, and the prognosis for infants with AML is worse, doctors said.

“We've made significant advances in our research looking at the genetic mutations responsible for pediatric AML, but we have a long road ahead,” said Dr. Daniel Wechsler, chief of pediatric hematology at Duke.

“This grant will enable Dr. Walker to continue our work and may ultimately help us discover new ways to develop more improved, targeted therapies that can improve outcomes for pediatric leukemia patients," he continued.