Vermont Cancer Center Symposium Highlights Neuroblastoma Research
Release Date: 03-19-2007
On Friday, March 16, the Vermont Cancer Center hosted the “Developments in Neuroblastoma Research Symposium” in the UVM College of Medicine’s Medical Education Center. Chaired by pediatric oncologist Giselle Sholler, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, the event attracted over 100 attendees, including scientists, physicians, students and family members of neuroblastoma patients. Symposium presenters included investigators from UVM and the Vermont Cancer Center, as well as physician-scientists from University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Brown Medical School, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the University of California at San Francisco.
The symposium also offered insight into the patient family perspective. During the program’s opening remarks, Neil Hutchison, the father of a neuroblastoma patient, expressed his appreciation for the generosity of physicians and scientists working to identify treatments for children with neuroblastoma and shared a story illustrating families’ collective hope for a cure. Parent/author Syd Birrell provided closing remarks regarding the remarkably resilient spirit of his and other children and how having a child with neuroblastoma affects individual family members.
Approximately 650 children, most of whom are less than 5 years of age, are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma, an often-fatal form of cancer that occurs in infants and young children. Hutchison and his wife Margot, along with parents John and Catherine London, have established The Penelope and Sam Fund for Neuroblastoma Research at the Vermont Cancer Center at the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care. Despite the current treatment of chemotherapy, surgery, autologous bone marrow transplant and radiation, survival remains below 30 percent for aggressive forms of neuroblastoma. Sholler and several colleagues at the Vermont Cancer Center are currently conducting basic science studies, as well as a Phase 1 clinical trial, to identify new treatments for children with the most aggressive form of neuroblastoma.