Funding Lifesaving Research with Dr. Sarah Injac
We’d like you to meet Dr. Sarah Injac, Emerging Investigator Grant recipient from Baylor College of Medicine. This type of grant is designed for emerging pediatric cancer researchers to pursue exciting research ideas and encourages and cultivates the best and brightest researchers of the future. Dr. Injac’s research offers hope to children with Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. There are approximately 500 cases of children diagnosed in the United States each year. The current standard therapy for medulloblastoma consists of a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. This approach results in cure rates of approximately 75%. For patients who fail to respond to this initial therapy or have disease that recurs following treatment, the outcomes remain dismal.
Dr. Injac is making progress towards finding new and effective treatments for Medulloblastoma through her research thanks to support from the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. She tells us more about her role in helping to ensure all children have a chance at a long, healthy future.
Share your thoughts on why you think it’s important to fund pediatric cancer research.
Funding from non-profits like the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) are critical to developing better treatments for childhood cancers. Thankfully, children develop cancer at much lower rates than adults. Because of this, however, even the most common childhood cancers represent relatively rare diseases. Many funding sources prefer to focus on diseases that impact a large number of patients leaving pediatric researchers at a disadvantage. Pediatrics focused organizations provide a vital support allowing us to continue advancing our understanding of these devastating diseases.
What advice would you give to a child diagnosed with cancer?
Your life has changed but you are stronger than you ever knew. It is ok to be scared and it is ok to have a bad day or week or month. Ask questions and tell people how you are feeling. It may seem like adults have all the answers but you know yourself best.
What is your point of view on the climate of pediatric cancer research?
We are currently in an exciting time in the field of pediatric cancer. Major advances have been made over the last decade in our understanding of the basic biology of tumors and we now are starting to incorporate this information in a clinical setting. There is enormous optimism that in the coming years we will see improvements in both survival and quality of life for children battling fighting childhood cancer.
Can you tell us something about you not many people know?
When I started residency, I was actually in a program to train in child neurology. All first year doctors at my hospital, however, did a rotation on the inpatient oncology service. The strength of the pediatric cancer patients and their families that I met inspire me. After one week I switched programs and started applying to pediatric oncology fellowship.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a mom of 4 year old twins so spare time is not something that I have a lot of. When I do have time to relax, I enjoy spending time doing out outdoor activities with my family, going on bike rides and working in the yard.