An Impactful Partnership
Donor support provides critical research funding bridge
Written by Lindsay Gordon-Faranda
Duke Children’s pediatric hematologist-oncologist Corinne Linardic, MD, PhD, recently moved into the list of the top recipients of National Institutes of Health research funding for her work on alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive and deadly pediatric cancer. In the fall of 2019, Linardic, along with Duke Co-Principal Investigator Chris Counter, PhD, received almost $6 million from a National Cancer Insitute Moonshot grant to support research into this cancer. Little is understood about rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), but Linardic is determined to make discoveries that lead to better treatments. Linardic’s achievement was made possible in part by the vision of committed donors, Stacy and Glenn Schiffman. The Schiffmans provided critical bridge funding that helped Linardic advance her research, enabling her to make enough progress to compete for the Moonshot award.
In 2013 and again in 2019, Duke University undergraduate alumnus Glenn Schiffman and his wife, Stacy, made a multi-year commitment to support childhood cancer research. The Schiffmans’ initial gift provided dedicated resources for two physician scientists, one who focused on leukemia, and the other, Linardic, who works on RMS, which affects soft tissue, most often in muscles connected to bone. For the two years leading up to Linardic’s receiving the Moonshot award, the Schiffmans’ philanthropy afforded her lab financial stability, which enabled her to take her research to the next level—one that received international recognition.
“Given research for pediatric cancer is unfortunately woefully underfunded, Stacy and I were excited to fund Dr. Linardic’s inspiring work. It is thrilling to see her be recognized for research she has focused her career on and humbling that we could have played a small part. The breakthroughs she achieves may one day save lives around the world, and we are excited to be a part of that,” says Schiffman. Linardic’s multi-institutional and international team is the only recipient of a Moonshot grant working in the area of RMS.
“Understanding the inner workings of this cancer has been a passion of mine since finishing clinical training. Assembling this team, which includes researchers from Duke, MIT, the Broad Institute, and the University of Zurich, is a dream come true,” Linardic says. “Through our collaboration, we hope to identify novel vulnerabilities of rhabdomyosarcoma, and pave the way for breakthrough treatments. We just can’t accept the status quo–every child deserves better."
Philanthropic support for research at Duke Children’s is vitally important. It is the foundation that enables our physician-scientists to further develop their work to a point where it may achieve large-scale funding in the form of major grants. These grants lead to clinical trials that are essential for bringing new treatments to patients.
“Glenn and Stacy provided generous financial support when I needed it most. I have been working on this terrible cancer for 20 years, and there has been no new successful targeted therapy in 40 years,” Linardic says. Together with my collaborators, we are excited to make a dent in this cancer, and to provide hope for children and their parents battling this disease. I am grateful to the Schiffmans for their support, and I am especially grateful to them on behalf of all the lives that will be impacted by this research.”
Published August, 2020, Duke Children's Development
“Glenn and Stacy provided generous financial support when I needed it most. I am grateful to the Schiffmans for their support, and I am especially grateful to them on behalf of all the lives that will be impacted by this research.”
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