It is hard to believe but August 1st was 3 years since Bob succumbed to his brain tumor. This December will be 3 years since we proposed and set up the Robert H. Gross Memorial Fund and had a marvelous celebration of Bob’s Life at Hammond High School. Little did we know that we would raise, as of this update, close to $30,000. Your generous contributions turned into 11 Scholarships for deserving students at Hammond High School. $15,000 in grants for the neuro-oncology research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. This work continues to give me hope that someday we will find a way to improve the survival rate and quality of life of patients with brain tumors like the one that took Bob’s life.
The Robert H. Gross Memorial Scholarship Program
This was the third year we awarded scholarships for students at Hammond High School ( where Bob attended and taught). This year’s recipients bring the number of scholarships awarded to 11. All four of our recipients demonstrate the qualities that represented Bob’s: compassion, creativity, commitment, as well as his energy and enthusiasm. They are: Madeleine Borowski, Dance – Madeleine was involved in dance and extracurricular theater productions all four years and was a member of the senior company that performed in Disney for the past two years. Her bright smile and energy made her shine on the stage. Garrett Linthicum, Theater- Garrett shined his lights from off stage and was inspired by Bob’s passion for lighting during his freshman year. He continued his involvement on the lighting crew all four years. . Garrett was especially close to Bob since his older sister, Kylie (’08) was one of Bob’s favorite students and his parents have been very involved in the department as well. Megan Mosier, Special Education – Megan studied dance therapy through the GT/Mentor program and wants to pursue dance therapy in college. She has been involved in the dance program for all four years. Jennyfer Peraza, Honorable Mention – Jennyfer has worked very hard to overcome some obstacles to reach graduation, and is interested in becoming special education teacher. She is a sweet student, and determined to make a difference in the world.
“The kids were all excited and are wonderful representative of Bob’s legacy”.
I would like to personally thank Lauren Tobiason (Theater and new mom to Miranda) and Brook Kuhl (Dance) for making this happen each year. They made this all happen because of your kind support.
From left to right they are: Jennyfer Peraza, Madeleine Borowski, Garrett Linthicum, and Megan Mosier.
Neuro-Oncology Research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Your continued generosity and support this past year has allowed us to most recently provide a grant of $6,000 to the work of Dr. Matthias Holdhoff. This grant supports his innovative work focusing on multiple brain cancer biomarker pilot projects. Over the past three years we have been able to donate $15,000 to the brilliant work of Dr. Holdhoff and his staff. A seat has been dedicated to Bob in the Owen Research Auditorium. Unfortunately we can’t bring back Bob, but we are helping to help others in the future so they do not have to go through what Bob went through.
There has been an increasing emphasis on the laboratory side identifying genetic alterations and biomarkers in malignant gliomas; Dr. Holdhoff continues to implement these projects. Projects supported by this grant include:
Protein Evaluation: Ten to twelve additional proteins, found in a patient’s blood, are being collected and screened for detectability in patients with gliomas. Promising protein markers will be further studied within a larger specimen collection. Additionally, Dr. Holdhoff has written a biomarker protocol for collection of these blood samples from patients who are undergoing therapy here at Hopkins. This database is designed to function as the ‘gold standard’ for validation of these markers. The protocol has been approved and commenced in spring 2012.
Detecting Circulating Malignant Glioma Cells: By using laser-based technology, Dr. Holdhoff is able to detect circulating malignant cells in the blood of patients while they are undergoing surgery for their tumor. Tumor cells are taken from the resected tumor, and function as a positive control to confirm that the detected cells are truly derived from the tumor. Circulating tumor cells are a hot topic in a variety of tumors and are under investigation as potential clinical biomarkers, for example, in breast and prostate cancers.
Assessment of Treatment Response: Blood samples are being collected from patients undergoing treatment for primary CNS lymphoma in which malignant cells form in the lymph tissue of the brain. DNA-based markers are being tested for assessment of response to treatment, and similarly to the situation in gliomas, assessment of response and duration of treatment is very difficult in these tumors. Biomarkers that appear promising in this study can be tested for their ability to detect tumor burden changes over time. From there, Dr. Holdhoff’s lab will decide if the marker should be further evaluated for clinical use.
At the Kimmel Cancer Center, the neuro-oncology group actively conducts therapeutic clinical trials of which investigator-initiated projects translate concepts from our laboratories into clinical practice, and their hope is that these research efforts which will improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer for patients and families all over the world.
We need your help this coming year so that we can continue to offer more scholarships and to continue our support of research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
If you are interested in learning more about the projects we are funding, please contact me.
If you wish to make a charitable contribution, we hope that you would consider supporting the Robert H. Gross Memorial Fund. Please send your tax contribution by mail to:
RHG Memorial Fund of CFNCR
C/O Edward M. Gross
907 South Caroline Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Please make checks payable to the Community Foundation for the National Capital Area (CFNCR), with the RHG Fund written on memo line of check.
The RHG Memorial Fund is a component of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization — donations are tax deductible.
Beginning of Fund and summary of 2010 and 2011 activities
On August 1, 2009, our son Bob lost his six year battle with brain cancer. Bob graduated from Hammond High School in Columbia Maryland and also taught there the last 11 years of his life. He taught special education and was deeply involved with the Drama and Dance companies at the school. He loved the school and the school loved him.
Your continuing generous contributions allowed us to begin supporting cutting edge neuro-oncology research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University. In November of 2010 we provided our first grant of $4000 which will assist with lab costs, data analysis and the publication of the research findings. The research we support focuses on fighting brain tumors and we hope it will lead to the development of new, targeted and less toxic treatments for brain tumors – with fewer side effects. The goal is not only to extend life with more effective therapies, but to develop a cure for this disease. As we know too well, brain cancer is one of the most lethal diseases and, unfortunately, under-funded.
- There have been significant advances in the treatment of brain cancers over the past 10 years, but the prognosis of patients remains poor and novel treatments are urgently needed.
- A major barrier in the treatment of malignant gliomas is the lack of adequate markers for disease progression and response to treatment. Current imaging techniques are insufficient to differentiate active disease from treatment effect or radiation necrosis. . This frequently leads to treatment delays or premature changes of therapies that are indeed successful.
- A blood-based tumor marker (similar to PSA in prostate cancer or CEA in colon cancer) could help in assessing treatment response and progression and have direct influence on patient care.
- The Brain Cancer Biomarker Development Group in the Johns Hopkins Brain Cancer Program has several ongoing projects that are evaluating several candidate biomarkers and additional projects are planned. These include studies on circulating tumor-specific DNA, circulating proteins and circulating tumor cells.
- The research environment at Johns Hopkins is the ideal setting to pursue this project. The project is conducted as collaboration between the Brain Cancer Program and the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics (Vogelstein laboratory). In addition, projects are done in collaboration with different investigators and laboratories at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Brain Cancer Program has extensive experience in patient-related clinical translational research and patient recruitment to clinical trials, and over the past several years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the laboratory side identifying genetic alterations and molecular markers in malignant gliomas.
- Our group is also actively conducting therapeutic clinical trials of which investigator-initiated projects translate concepts from our laboratories into clinical practice.
Your support of the Robert H. Gross Memorial Fund assures that the important work of the Brain Cancer Biomarker Group continues as we work towards for a cure for brain cancer and we can continue of offer scholarships to deserving students at Hammond High School, Columbia,Maryland.