Families are the focus of MACC Fund and Medical College of Wisconsin partnership
Oct. 11, 2012 College News - The MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc.) harnesses the power of people to make great things possible.
The ability to rally the community to the cause of helping kids with cancer has been a character trait of the organization since its founding in 1976. That effort has led to the MACC Fund contributing nearly $34 million to the Medical College of Wisconsin for pediatric cancer and related blood disorders research. This year, research in the College’s MACC Fund Research Center is being supported by a donation of more than $1.67 million.
“Strength of support represents strength of community,” said Jon McGlocklin, President and co-founder of the MACC Fund, “and we are such a community-based charity because of the events we do and how we are structured.”
With an army of dedicated volunteers and a roster of exciting events including those in which guests can interact with professional athletes, a summer golf tour, the Trek 100 bicycle ride, Candy Cane Lane and many, many more, the MACC Fund has helped advance the pace of research. The organization’s decades of caring are meaningful because biomedical research is a long-term investment.
“The overall cure rate for childhood cancer over 35 years has improved from about 20 percent to 80 percent, so we feel like our investment has certainly paid off, since when you talk about percentages, you’re talking about lives,” said McGlocklin, a former Milwaukee Buck and now Bucks television analyst. “It’s a long process—a marathon, not a sprint—but we feel that the Medical College and its Cancer Center have proven good at what they do and are saving lives annually.”
Opening doors for clinical trials
In this, his first year at the Medical College, Marcio H. Malogolowkin, MD, has been impressed by what the teamwork of the MACC Fund and the College has made possible. Dr. Malogolowkin is Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, and Director of the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
“Not many organizations are this dedicated to pediatric cancer and blood disorders research. I’ve seen their passion not only in raising money for research but supporting patients and their families,” Dr. Malogolowkin said. “Their personal dedication to patients and families makes me proud to be here and proud of my partnership with the MACC Fund.”
He points to the 20 percent of patients for whom current treatments do not work and how parents of those children are desperate for alternative options. The partnership between the MACC Fund, the Medical College and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was instrumental in the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital being designated as a Phase 1 Center in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). This gives College physicians the ability to offer cutting-edge, new agents to patients when no front-line therapy is effective. Only a select group of about 20-22 centers have this designation.
Thanks to the infrastructure built by the partners through the years, pediatric cancer patients here can now participate in clinical trials through COG (a consortium of about 250 medical institutions), and College faculty can also develop their own new clinical trials. The program went live in October 2011.
“I think this is awesome and puts us in a position to support new, developing knowledge and care,” Dr. Malogolowkin said. “Not only does it put us on the map, but it also keeps Wisconsin families in Wisconsin because they don’t need to travel to gain access to experimental therapies.”
Collaborators developing new therapies
Another notable example of the MACC Fund’s impact is in the field of immunology, Dr. Malogolowkin said. With MACC Fund support and the interaction and investment of the Medical College and the Blood Research Institute of BloodCenter of Wisconsin, the partners are developing new cellular therapy trials.
These novel therapies are a refinement of bone marrow transplantation that serve as targeted therapies, using specific cells to fight specific situations. Metaphorically, if a bone marrow transplant is replacing a car’s engine, cellular therapy is identifying the parts of the engine that are inactive and replacing them with new parts as appropriate.
The team now has cellular therapy protocols for leukemia, solid tumors and to fight infection after bone marrow transplant. Two studies are underway with a third about to open, and two of them bridge pediatric and adult cancer.
“The MACC Fund is a sterling example of how an academic medical center and a philanthropic organization can work together for the betterment of the community,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, College President and CEO. “The availability of federal research dollars is becoming increasingly limited, so having a partner in the MACC Fund that is wholly committed to improving the lives of kids with cancer and blood disorders is tremendous in our search for cures.”
Nearly matching the longevity of the relationship between the MACC Fund and the Medical College is the service of John Cary, who celebrated his 30th year as Executive Director of the MACC Fund this year.
Dr. Malogolowkin gives Cary credit for helping the MACC Fund grow into the strong and positive force in the community it is, and McGlocklin says that Cary has raised high the banners of the MACC Fund.
“It’s been a blessing having him. It’s a match made in heaven,” McGlocklin said. “This has been the right job for John Cary, and he has brought all of his love and dedication to it.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with 15-year-old Charlie Burton at the Third Annual Evening With Aaron Rodgers on May 22. Charlie is one of the kids Aaron helps by supporting the MACC Fund.