Setting the Pace for Pediatric Cancer Research in Indiana and Beyond

with Dr. Mark Kelley and Dr. Raghu Mirmira, Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research

Indiana Health

Associated with Riley Hosptial for Children at IU Health, the Betty and Earl Herr Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research at Indiana University and Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Researcher, Dr. Mark Kelley and the Lilly Foundation Professor in Pediatric Diabetes, Department of Diabetes and Director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Dr. Raghu Mirmira discuss the state of pediatric cancer funding in Indiana and nationwide.

To learn more about the center and it’s affiliation with Riley Children’s Hosptial visit: Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research

Interview recorded on August 23, 2017. Hosted by Taylor Bennett. Part 1 of 1.

Read a partial transcript of the interview here:

Bennett: Well first let’s highlight the role of the Wells center in conjunction with Riley Children’s Hospital.

Mirmira: Well the Wells center is really the nerve center for research within the hospital. The investigators conduct all the basic and translational research. By translational research I mean the research that moves from bench research into human studies.

Bennett: When we look at the new amount of pediatric cancer cases each year, it pales in comparison to the new adult cases. Is that a major reason behind the funding?

Kelley: There’s about 16,000 new, pediatric oncology cases a year. I think that’s part of the reason since it won’t attract a lot of pharmaceutical companies to invest in research, but I think that is changing some. We are living in a really great time because we are making new discoveries everyday.  A lot of the research that is done on kids impacts more than just cancer, so the impact…even those numbers are smaller can be quite huge.

Bennett: How do you feel about state of research and where it is going?

Kelley: Very excited. We are making new discoveries in the Wells center and our pediatric oncology group; both clinical and basic sciences. Probably, in my lifetime, this is the most excited I’ve been about research…it’s moving rapidly. What’s frustrating is the funding. It has gone up a bit but still only amounts to 4% to National Cancer Institute budget. I like to break it down and say we spend about $18-$20 per American per year on cancer research and less than $1 for kids and we spend over $250 on soft drinks. It’s very important for private donors, Riley Children’s Foundation and supporters from all around.

Bennett: What do you think is the most promising thing so far?

Kelley: There are a lot of new discoveries on precision medicine where you can tailor the treatment to the patient. Kids with cancer are different from adults. Just because you have the same type of cancer, doesn’t make it the same.

Mirmira: I think what’s exciting in the Wells Center. We study more than just cancer. We study cancer, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease…all the things that affect children. The exciting part is that, as we are in the hospital, and can learn from one another.

Kelley: This is a very unique environment in Indiana.