Posted: October 20, 2016
We’re proud of the groundbreaking work coming out of our Young Investigator Program, which supports investigators early in their research career. One of these investigators is Dr. Kara Davis, whose work is focused on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
We asked her a few questions to catch up:
Q. What kind of research are you doing involving acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?
A. We are understanding that within any patient’s leukemia, not all the cells act the same or have the same response to chemotherapy. So, to better understand the diversity of cells in each patient’s leukemia, we are taking an approach that allows us to look at hundreds of thousands of individual leukemia cells from each patient. This novel single-cell platform, mass cytometry, has helped us identify populations of cells present at the time of diagnosis which are implicated in future relapse. This work provides us with clues about how to better target these “bad actor” cells up front to prevent relapse.
Q. Why are you interested in finding a cure for ALL?
A. ALL is the most common cancer in children and luckily, most children are cured. But for those who relapse, curing their disease can be difficult so we need to do better in both predicting and preventing relapse.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment so far in regards to your research?
A. I am very proud of the work we have done with the support of CureSearch in building the research and analysis pipeline to use single-cell studies for childhood leukemia with a true translational endpoint. This work has been a labor of love, taking seven years to get to this point with lots of ups and downs. We are certainly not at the end, really only the beginning, but getting the foundation in place and first manuscript submitted are still big milestones towards bringing our single-cell approach to clinical utility.
Q. What advice would you give to a child with cancer?
A. We are going to fight together to cure your cancer. Stay strong, think positive, and take it one day at a time and we will get through this together.
Q. What advice would you give to parents of a child dealing with cancer?
A. Although this is a journey you never wanted to take, you have a team of people who are here to take the journey with you. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time and we will be here with you all along the way. Through years of research and experience, we have made tremendous strides in curing children with cancer and your family will benefit from these advances. We will care for your child and family as though they are our own.
A special thank you to Love Your Melon for sponsoring Dr. Davis’ research and for always supporting the CureSeach mission to find a cure for all children with cancer.
Learn more about the Young Investigator Program and its groundbreaking work.