New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

Read the latest cancer research and recognition from the members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle.
October 21, 2022
Anand Patel, MD, PhD, Receives 2022 Damon Runyon-Jake Wetchler Award

Anand Patel,

Each year, the Damon Runyon-Jake Wetchler Award for Pediatric Innovation is given to a third-year Damon Runyon Fellow whose research has the greatest potential to impact the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of pediatric cancer. This year, the award recognizes the work of Anand G. Patel, MD, PhD, a Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellow at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Patel both provides care for children with cancer and their families and investigates ways to improve their treatment options.

“One of the most frustrating experiences as a pediatric oncologist is that treatment often works initially, but months or years later, the cancer comes back,” he explains. “I want to understand—why aren’t we able to get it on the first try?”

Dr. Patel’s research focuses on rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a fast-growing childhood cancer that can spread from muscles to other parts of the body. He aims to identify which subtypes of tumor cells are able to survive chemotherapy or radiation therapy and test whether directly targeting these resistant cells improves treatment outcomes. Ultimately, the goal of his research is to uncover novel therapeutic targets and drugs for the treatment of pediatric RMS.

“It's a tremendous privilege to be a physician scientist,” Dr. Patel says. “It gives me an opportunity to bring my patients’ problems and challenges to the lab and spend the necessary time and resources to try to address their suffering.”


Jake Wetchler

The Jake Wetchler Foundation was established in honor of Jake, who survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 18, but then lost his life to leukemia at age 20 after a heroic fight. “Jake would often say to us, ‘Don’t let the cancer win,’” says Jean Singer, Jake's mother and the Founder of the Foundation. “By funding brilliant, innovative scientists, we hope to someday beat cancer. Pediatric research in particular is consistently shortchanged in research funding. We live in an age of unprecedented technology and scientific promise—now is the time to harness these advances in the fight against pediatric cancer.”