With the support of Giant Food, the NextGen Award was created in 2013 to recognize young investigators who are committed to pursuing a long-term career in Pediatric Oncology research. This $100,000 grant is made possible through Giant Food’s Pediatric Cancer Program. CCF is grateful to Giant Food for this support.

An independent Selection Committee receives and reviews proposals from the area and selects one submission to receive the award. NextGen Award application window runs from February to May each year, with announcements in August.

Award Winners

2023 – Yiouli Ktena, M.D.

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Dr. Ktena’s research involves developing a T-cell therapy that will decrease the risk of donor cells attacking the patient’s organs and minimize the recurrence of cancer after a bone marrow transplant for treatment of leukemia and other blood cancers. CCF interviewed her in January of 2024.

2022 – Rosa Nguyen, M.D. Ph.D.

National Cancer Institute at NIH (NCI)

Dr. Nguyen, of the National Cancer Institute at NIH (NCI), has been selected as the 2022 CCF Giant Food NextGen Awardee for her proposal for expanding the use of CAR-T Cell therapy in high-risk Neuroblastoma. CAR T-Cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that has shown incredible promise relating to leukemia, but less so with solid tumors like Neuroblastoma. Dr. Nguyen presented her research to the local pediatric community in 2022 at the CCF Research Symposium. Watch her presentation on YouTube.

2021 – Keri Toner, M.D.

Children’s National Hospital

Dr. Toner’s research seeks to develop and functionally evaluate a novel T cell therapy that can ultimately be translated to the clinic for the treatment of pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Relapse after chemotherapy remains a major problem and leading cause of death in children with AML. The novel therapeutic will combine the current TAA (Tumor-associated antigen) T cell platform with (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) CAR technology to enhance anti-tumor effects in vivo.

2020 – R. Taylor Sundby, M.D.

National Cancer Institute at NIH

Dr. Sundby’s research focuses on identifying better detection methods for the adolescents and young adults with neurofibromatosis, who may develop malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, a rare and aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. Dr. Sundby shared his research at the 2023 CCF Research Symposium. View Now

2019 – Lei Peng, M.D.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Under the mentorship of Alan Friedman, M.D., Dr. Peng received her grant for the research of using targeted therapies to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML.) AML affects both adults and children, but as a pediatric cancer, this aggressive form of leukemia most commonly impacts infants and teens.

2018 – Micah Maxwell, M.D.

Johns Hopkins Medicine (fmr.)

Under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Raabe, also a CCF Grant recipient, Dr. Maxwell completed his third year fellowship in the spring of 2018. His research investigated a more targeted treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft tissue sarcoma and a cancer that has one of the lowest survival rates. His 2018 presentation on his related research can be found on the CCF YouTube Channel.

2017 – Haneen Shalabi, D.O.

National Cancer Institute at NIH (fmr.)

Dr. Shalabi’s research focused on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia & B-cell Lymphomas. She presented her research at the 2018 CCF Research Symposium: Haneen Shalabi, D.O., National Cancer Institute

2016 – Jeffrey Rubens, M.D

Johns Hopkins Medicine (fmr.)

Dr. Rubens was a pediatric hematology-oncology clinical and research fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital until 2023. His focus was on LIN-28 in atypical rhabdoid tumors of the brain to help understand the malignant transformation of normal brain tissue and to help find curative therapeutics for this deadly tumor.

2015 – Patrick Hanley, Ph.D.

Children’s National Health System

Dr. Hanley is currently Chief and Director of the Cellular Therapy Program at the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Children’s Research Institute at Children’s National Health System. In addition to clinical-grade manufacturing, he is interested in translating novel cell therapies into the clinic. Over the past ten years, Dr. Hanley has helped to develop T-cell therapies that attack viruses and cancer after stem cell transplantation and has focused on developing similar therapies for recipients of cord blood transplantation. Dr. Hanley is the Co-chair of the International Society For Cellular Therapy (ISCT) Early Stage Professionals Committee and is a member of ISCT’s Immunotherapy committee.

2014 – Nirali Shah, M.D.

Pediatric Oncology at National Cancer Institute

Dr. Shah focuses on the implementation and conduct of clinical trials with a specific focus on immune-based therapies, targeting relapsed refractory leukemia, especially in the treatment of patients with post- transplant relapse. Her clinical trials include several Phase I trials for the treatment of relapsed/refractory pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). She currently serves as Principal Investigator in the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute.

CCF interviewed Dr. Shah in 2018 about the progress she is making with her research.