St. Baldrick’s Foundation awards Dovat $5,000 to mentor young investigator in pediatric cancer research

Every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Sinisa Dovat, a Penn State Children’s Hospital and Four Diamonds researcher, has dedicated his career to addressing that problem through his research. Now, he’s earned a grant to ensure that pediatric cancer research will continue in the next generation.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation announced on April 25 that it will give Dovat $5,000 to mentor a young investigator in pediatric cancer research this summer. The foundation’s Summer Fellow grant provides funding for a medical school or college student to work in a pediatric oncology research lab for one summer.Dr. Sinisa Dovat smiles. He wears a white jacket with the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine logo on the breast, a sport shirt and tie.

Dovat has spent more than 20 years doing translational research in childhood cancer. His projects have focused on regulating tumor suppression in childhood leukemia, accelerating drug discovery for childhood cancers and the genomic events that cause cells to stop dividing.

“Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death by disease for children,” said Dovat. “Research has improved the survival rate of children with cancer, but our goal is a cure.”

Shriya Kane, a medical student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, will work with Dovat in Hershey to investigate T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a deadly pediatric cancer which can only be treated with highly toxic treatments. Kane will perform experiments to help identify new targets for treatment and understand the mechanisms that regulate the activities of genes in T-cell leukemia. She previously worked in Dovat’s lab during her undergraduate research at Penn State Harrisburg.

“She is an outstanding medical student — hardworking, driven and with excellent previous research experience,” said Dovat.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer- and donor-powered charity that supports promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and help survivors lead long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick’s has committed more than $258 million to lifesaving research, making it the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants.

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