Sam Jeffers was in the second grade when he was diagnosed with a rare pediatric brain tumor called thalamic glioma. His parents were told that children diagnosed with this type of tumor have a very poor prognosis. It is a rare, inoperable tumor that is seemingly neglected by the research community.
Pediatric brain tumors are the most fatal cancer found in children. While other childhood cancers such as leukemia have seen remarkable improvements in survival rates over the past 40 years, there has been very little research to improve outcomes for children with brain tumors because it’s so difficult to secure appropriate research funding, especially to investigate those pediatric brain tumors that are most rare.
Government grants and gifts from major foundations tend to support common cancers, where each advance benefits thousands of people. That makes sense, of course. But how can you tell a parent that not only is there no hope for their child, but that nobody is even working on it? The only way to improve the prognosis for thalamic gliomas and other rare and inoperable brain tumors in children is to study them, understand them better at the molecular level, and test innovative therapies against them.
Sam’s parents, John and Sabrina, founded the Samuel Jeffers Foundation to fund the research that children with rare and inoperable brain tumors like thalamic gliomas so desperately need.
“Our top priority is to raise enough funds to hire a full-time dedicated researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine who will study thalamic gliomas at the genomic level,” said John Jeffers. “This isn’t just about Sam, it’s about everyone. We have to do a better job at protecting all children.”
The Jeffers family and their extremely dedicated community of supporters have been delivering on their promise to fund a fellowship at the Weill Cornell Medicine Children’s Brain Tumor Project. In fact, in 2018, that dream has become a reality when they made a substantial donation that will allow the lab team to acquire a dedicated researcher who will focus on this disease. Their total contributions of almost $115,000 to the Children’s Brain Tumor Project helped the lab (1) launch the thalamic glioma registry (thalamicgliomaregistry.org), an essential tool to unite the thalamic glioma community and collect tumor tissue, (2) to hire a summer fellow who helped secure essential tumor tissue for investigation, and (3) to hire a full-time researcher in early 2019 who will take this research to the next level by sequencing the tumors, attempting to grow cell lines and avatar models, analyzing the data, conducting targeted drug screening and more.
“We don’t want any other child or family to go through what Sam went through. We want to help find a cure for these rarer types of tumors that cause so much devastation in the lives of children. That’s why we strongly support the incredible work and efforts of Dr. Mark Souweidane and the Weill Cornell Medicine Children’s Brain Tumor Project. Together, we truly believe we can change outcomes for future families,” said Sabrina Jeffers.
To learn more about what the Samuel Jeffers Foundation is doing, visit samjeffersfoundation.org.