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MACC Fund tackles cancer as a team

Aaron Rodgers a champion for MACC Fund, kids with cancer

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been a highly visible and active advocate for the MACC Fund for the last several years. Whether he is serving as a spokesman on television ads or as a host for a key event, like his annual “An Evening with Aaron Rodgers,” the Super Bowl MVP has taken the MACC Fund to a new level, said Jon McGlocklin, President and co-founder.

“It’s been tremendous to have his support,” McGlocklin said. “Not just in fundraising, but his endorsement and his engagement has been a blessing to us because of his high profile in Wisconsin and athletics as a whole. You don’t often get people to weigh in with that type of commitment. Here’s a guy who has completely thrown in with our cause.”

Oct. 30, 2013 College News - Teamwork is in the DNA of the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc.), which engages thousands of volunteers and donors in its mission to help kids with cancer and was founded, incidentally, during halftime of a Milwaukee Bucks game. Teamwork is also at the heart of the research the MACC Fund supports, which succeeds through the powerful partnership of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The MACC Fund continues to energize the efforts of MCW physicians and scientists dedicated to eliminating pediatric cancer and related blood disorders through its annual support of the College’s MACC Fund Research Center. This year, the MACC Fund pledged more than $1.74 million for research at MCW.

“We really represent the essence of partnership,” said Marcio H. Malogolowkin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at MCW and Medical Director of the MACC Fund Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital. “We are academic faculty practicing in an excellent children’s hospital, and the MACC Fund through its generosity, solidifies our effort.”

To capitalize on the strengths and expertise among partners, Dr. Malogolowkin said the pediatric cancer research team is prioritizing several areas of focus that have the potential to most significantly benefit patients and their families.

The discovery and testing of new drug therapies will be a strong emphasis, increasing the availability of clinical trials for patients. The effort is aided by the MACC Fund Center’s designation as a Phase 1 Center in the Children’s Oncology Group, something only 20 other centers in the country can claim.

By developing new therapeutic approaches here and engaging more researchers in pediatric cancer investigations, MCW will create more opportunities for local patients, especially those with high-risk cancers, to access alternative therapies.

Investigation of cellular therapies will also increase with this effort, as researchers expand their understanding of the immune system. Although bone marrow transplant is the most common and effective immune therapy for many cancers, it carries substantial risks and complications. New strategies to direct immune cells to selectively kill cancer will improve disease control and reduce transplant-related complications, resulting in longer, healthier lives for pediatric cancer patients.

The pediatric cancer program also means to make personalized cancer therapy routinely available for patients. MCW’s and Children’s leading expertise in genetics will be leveraged as the team plans to apply DNA analysis to all cancer patients to provide more effective and safer therapies while collecting data to better understand individual variability in disease control and complications. When warranted, whole genome sequencing may be employed to identify potential therapeutic targets in patients where obvious best therapies are not known.

“These areas of emphasis give us opportunities to offer therapies for patients and families for whom initial therapy doesn’t work,” Dr. Malogolowkin said. “Instead of leaving loved ones and their home for alternative rescue therapy, we will be developing them here and making them safer, so patients won’t have to travel outside their community for the best therapeutic option.”

Advances such as these provide motivation for the MACC Fund, which has dedicated 36 years to giving hope to children fighting cancer. Since its founding, the MACC Fund has contributed more than $35 million to MCW in support of pediatric cancer and blood disorders research. This summer, the organization additionally awarded $10 million to Children’s Hospital for the MACC Fund Center.

The MACC Fund raises the lion’s share of its funds through events — about 75 annually today — and the organization’s co-founder and President, Jon McGlocklin, believes that the personal engagement that accompanies fundraising events, as well as their laudable cause, has helped keep involvement high, even during an economic downturn.

“The banner we’re carrying is so significant that no people turned away,” McGlocklin said. “We raise the majority of funds through events, and I think people still participate in events because it’s enjoyable for them while also helping someone else. It’s an everyday goal to keep raising awareness and dollars to give to the wonderful people at the Medical College to find cures and improve treatment protocols.”

That shared vision is what makes the partnership strong.

“The MACC Fund is a presence in the lives of children with cancer. The volunteers and staff know exactly who they are fighting for. They have met them, laughed with them, cried with them, and realize how important new tools and treatments are,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO of MCW. “The Medical College of Wisconsin is very proud that we are on the same team.”

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Page Updated 10/30/2013