Microscope | February 2019

Microscope masthead featuring 3 patient images

Charity Navigator 4-Star Rating logo

Leukemia Research Foundation Earns
Charity Navigator 4-Star Rating

The Leukemia Research Foundation (LRF) has, for the third time in the last five years, earned the coveted “4-Star Charity” rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest national independent charity evaluator. Click here to see the full report.

The 4-Star rating is Charity Navigator’s highest award for sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency. Only 25% of the 9,000 charities fully evaluated by Charity Navigator have achieved this distinction. Further, the LRF is one of only five charities in the blood cancer space to earn this high honor. LRF donors can be confident that their hard-earned dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly to achieve its mission: dedicated to conquering all blood cancers by funding research into their causes and cures, and enriching the quality of life of those touched by these diseases.



image of two researchers in a lab

Step Two in New Investigator Research Funding Begins

The next phase in the process of awarding blood cancer research funding begins soon. New Investigators who submitted letters of intent (LOIs) by the February 1 deadline will have their project summaries evaluated by the Leukemia Research Foundation Medical Advisory Board on February 15. Selected researchers will be invited to submit full research grant proposals, which will be due by March 18.

image of Scott Smith, M.D., Ph.D., FACP

Scott Smith, M.D., Ph.D., FACP

Good News for CLL Patients

The medication ibrutinib is more effective than standard therapy for elderly patients diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). That’s the finding of a study co-authored by Scott Smith, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine at Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. The drug kills cancer cells without damaging normal cells and comes in pill form. Read more about this exciting research here.

Doctor Smith is part of the Leukemia Research Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board and has been a presenter at LRF Patient Educational Programs.

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Esther Obeng, M.D., Ph.D. and Russell Ryan, M.D. 

ASH Awards Earned by Two LRF-funded Researchers

Congratulations to Esther Obeng, M.D., Ph.D., assistant member, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Russell Ryan, M.D., assistant professor at University of Michigan Medicine for earning the 2019 Scholar Award from the American Society of Hematology (ASH). The Scholar Award, one of ASH’s most prestigious, provides $150,000 for junior faculty scholars over a two- to three-year period. The funding helps promising hematologists make the difficult transition from postdoctoral researchers to independent investigators. Learn more about the Scholar Award here.

Doctors Obeng and Ryan’s research was supported by the Leukemia Research Foundation in 2018. Read more on the LRF website.

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 Bruno Paiva, PharmD, Ph.D.

Video: MRD and Older AML Patients

A Leukemia Research Foundation-funded researcher presented findings about measurable residual disease and elderly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Diego, California. Bruno Paiva, PharmD, Ph.D., conducted a phase III Pethema-Flugaza clinical trial to help define the role and impact of MRD on therapeutic decision making in older AML patients. Watch the video here.

Doctor Paiva is head of the Flow Cytometry Laboratory and co-coordinator, Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) LAB Diagnostics at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. His research was supported by the LRF in 2016.


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Save the Date: Saturday, May 11
Treatment Options for Blood Cancer Patients Conference

The Leukemia Research Foundation, in cooperation with Loyola University Health System and Be The Match/National Marrow Donor Program, will host its 15th Annual Treatment Options for Blood Cancer Patients Conference on Saturday, May 11 at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, Illinois. This is a free, educational program for patients and caregivers who want to learn more about treatment options for blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes.

An agenda with topics, presenters and online registration will be available on the LRF website soon. Visit www.allbloodcancers.org/treatment-options-conference or call 847.424.0600 for more information.

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Full House at Town Hall Meeting

More than 200 patients, survivors and caregivers had their blood cancer questions answered by a panel of hematologists/oncologists in January at the Annual Town Hall Meeting in Lisle, Illinois. Questions about treatments like CAR T-cell therapy, medications, side effects, clinical trials and more were addressed.

The Leukemia Research Foundation thanks Tulio Rodriguez M.D. from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital; Parameswaran Venugopal, M.D., Rush University Medical Center; Stephanie Tsai, M.D., Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at Loyola University Medical Center; Jayesh Mehta, M.D., Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University; Pritesh Patel, M.D., University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center; and Justin Kline, M.D. from the University of Chicago Medical Center, for volunteering three hours of their time on a Sunday to answer questions and provide hope to people impacted by a blood cancer diagnosis.



image of Gibbons start from 2018

Starting Early to Fight Blood Cancers

Never mind that February is usually the second coldest month in Chicago. It’s time to start planning, training and fundraising for the 25th Annual ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk on Thursday, June 13. Thousands will step off in the fight to find cures for all blood cancers and some will use creative ways to increase their fundraising for the cause.

Carol’s Team of Hope is hosting a trivia night on Saturday, March 16 in Elmhurst, Illinois. More information here. Many individuals and teams employ their favorite activities to raise funds and qualify for incentive prizes during the months leading up to the event. You can too! Bowling, game nights, celebrity bartending; all have been used to boost team and individual totals for fabulous prizes and raise more dollars for the cause. Visit www.Gibbons5K.com for fundraising tips and register for the event while you’re there!

Kids Party with Tommy Hawk image

Huge Fun at Kids’ Party
Kids’ Party is a great day for pediatric blood cancer patients and their families! More than 150 people enjoyed hugging and petting therapy dogs, great food and fun crafts, a dog trick show, games, great music, and taking photos with Batman and the Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk! Thank you to everyone who came out and supported Kids’ Party in January. Thanks to ABC 7 Chicago, you can see news coverage of the event here. There is also an article in the Daily Herald.

image of Abel Pei and friends

Carlos Ruben Montoya Chavez Jesus Castro Ramos, Abel Pei, John Hong, and Kaya Gross 

Fundraising in Memory of My Father

Abel Pei was 31 when his father died from leukemia, just a month after diagnosis in 2011. Ever since then, Abel was determined to raise money and awareness in his father’s memory, so every year, near his birthday, Abel hosts a fundraiser and in 2018 the beneficiary was the Leukemia Research Foundation.

“I decided I would do something every year in my Dad’s memory, some charity work to help raise awareness and give back to the community. I chose to do it around my birthday just to make it easy to remember.”

Abel works in the Health and Wellness Department at Prudential Financial in New Jersey. His job is to help keep his fellow employees happy, healthy and productive.

Abel incorporated a fundraising page into his event, which includes a raffle and other prizes, for the first time in 2018.

“I do this because I hope to make a difference for all people living with a blood cancer. The LRF was very helpful in providing everything I needed to make the event a success and provide some guidance along the way. They could not have been more helpful and if the LRF will have me, I’d be happy to work with them again next year. I have been so blessed and fortunate throughout my life. I’ve never wanted for much and I’ve had great support from my family, friends and colleagues. I look at this fundraising as giving back and helping people in memory of my Dad and everything he’s done for me. People are special and are willing help others if asked. I’m more than willing to do the asking and the support I feel from others motivates me to try and do more for people in need. One person, one act, one thought can be enough to shift somebody’s life. You have the ability, the power, the strength, the intelligence to make the difference. Be the change you want to see in others.”

Abel Pei raised more than $3,000 through his event and supporting fundraising page. If you would like to do something similar, please email Cindy@LRFmail.org or call 847.424.0600 to get all the information you need to get started.



February 9
Joey's Angels Chapter
Joey's Angels Ski Days

February 21 - February 26
Donald Davidson - Alan Brin
Memorial Chapter
Ski for Research

March 2 & 3

Jessica Shayne Magid "Chai" Chapter

Dear Evan Hansen


APRIL 27 & May 5
Phillip "Poppie" Gaston Chapter
Bowl for the Cure

May 9
Road to a Cure

May 11
Treatment Options
for Blood Cancer Patients Conference

May 25
Phillip "Poppie" Gaston Chapter
The Best of Music Benefit Concert

June 13
Jim Gibbons Memorial Chapter
25th Annual
ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk

August 2 - 4
Kingfish Shootout
Carrabelle, Florida

August 9
Joey's Angels Chapter
18th Angels in the Fairway