On the heels of its largest investment in pediatric cancer research grants, Loveland-based CancerFree KIDS continued efforts to expand its reach by naming its first-ever market director in Ohio’s state capital.
The grant-making organization selected Melissa Jackson to lead its efforts in Columbus. The Powell, Ohio resident has experience in public health and nonprofit management, serving in leadership roles at the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, Ohio Department of Health and Cancer Support Community Center Ohio.
“Melissa is an accomplished health care leader with a focus on childhood cancer,” said Jill Brinck, executive director of CancerFree KIDS. “We look forward to growing our presence and impact in central Ohio under Melissa’s leadership.”
Two decades of growth, impact
Founded in 2002, CancerFree Kids’ mission is to invest in the severely underfunded pediatric cancer research. It specializes in offering seed funding to high-risk, high-reward projects in the crucial early stages.
In December, the nonprofit announced it was investing $1.25 million into 21 research projects at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Columbus-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital. That is the most money the organization has given at one time in its 20-year history. CancerFree KIDS has committed $9.45 million into 215 research projects since its inception.
That funding is crucial, Brinck said, because new ideas need money to grow. Through its grant program, her organization helps early stage research get off the ground, allowing scientists to prove their concept, secure additional funding and find new treatment therapies.
To date, CancerFree KIDS researchers have received more than $78 million in follow-on funding. Those projects have resulted in 283 publications, 44 patents and 19 clinical trials and two FDA-approved drugs so far.