Realizing Futures

The 40 Forward Next-Gen Research Award & Scholarship

By Bonnie Lattimore, Director of Corporate Alliances

It is no secret that the world of pediatric cancer research is underfunded.  One might even call this “The Great Research Deficit,” a deficit that has grown palpably since 2020 with the start of the pandemic. The net result is that critical science is in jeopardy as labs close, scientists leave the field, and knowledge is lost.  While research in and of itself has never been “sexy” or of mainstream appeal, scientific research today enjoys a more positive halo and has more pop culture attention than it ever has.

For all of these reasons the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation is seizing the moment – and the occasion of our 40th anniversary — to respond. We focus on powering cures and realizing futures for children with cancer. 

Towards that end, to kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September 2022, we plan to identify and announce 40 research projects (that are either unfunded or underfunded) that hold the potential to transform pediatric cancer treatment. We will call them The 40 Forward. (This list will be determined via a questionnaire of Division Chiefs at major children’s hospitals and research institutions, with input from PCRF’s panel of independent scientific advisors.)

We are also committing to the future – the next 40 years, if necessary – by announcing a new award program for next-generation researchers, called The 40 Forward Next-Gen Researcher Award.  The future work of these scientists is in question because of resource limitations throughout the sector, but they are vitally important to maintaining research momentum and, hopefully, accelerating advancements. A call for nominations for The 40 Forward Next-Gen Researcher Scholarship will be announced in September 2022 with award recipients announced in December 2022.     

PCRF will make the final selection of the Award recipients with our independent review panel who will evaluate the applications based on:  Innovation or Inventiveness, Scientific Integrity, Diversity (geographic, racial and gender) and the potential to transform the lives of children with cancer.  Consideration could also be given to how well an awardee’s work balances or enhances the scope of research already being supported by us.

The 40 Forward initiative will recognize all of the work that has been done in this space in the past 40 years, while underlining the importance of committing to the next 40 years of research and making clear PCRF’s intention to lead us to a future where pediatric cancer is finally cured.

If you are interested in nominating a rising rock star researcher, please contact our Executive Director, Jeri Wilson at jwilson@pcrf-kids.org.  If you are interested in sponsoring this amazing new initiative, please contact me at blattimore@pcrf-kids.org

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When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change. – Annette Funicello