By Kayla Carcone
For over 12 years, grants awarded by Hyundai Hope On Wheels® totaling over $5.5 million have supported Dana-Farber investigators and their research to further discovery, leverage new technologies, and revolutionize treatment for pediatric patients everywhere. Hyundai Hope On Wheels has faithfully championed research by Dana-Farber physicians and scientists since its inception, and in 2022 the organization awarded two generous grants totaling $500,000 to Yana Pikman, MD, and Emily Heikamp, MD, PhD.
“Our story is deeply entwined with Dana-Farber, which makes this a particularly special opportunity for us to continue elevating the work of investigators like Dr. Pikman and Dr. Heikamp,” said John Guastaferro, executive director of Hyundai Hope On Wheels. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to show our great respect for their groundbreaking work. We hope their findings fuel breakthroughs that will transform the treatment and lives of countless children and their families.”
Pikman’s lab utilizes translational precision medicine and genomic profiling from patient samples to guide laboratory-based identification and validation of targets for pediatric leukemia research. The Hyundai Hope Scholar Grant will fund her work in identifying mutations in patients with high hyperdiploid acute lymphoblastic leukemia that may be associated with chemotherapy resistance. Her research will test methods to overcome resistance to chemotherapy in leukemia with mutations in the CREB-binding protein and inform novel treatment methods for patients with this type of leukemia.
Heikamp received the Hyundai Young Investigators Grant to fund her work in the lab of Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber, on novel epigenetic drug targets in leukemia. With this gift, she will pursue research into a rare but deadly form of acute myeloid leukemia driven by chromosomal rearrangements involving the NUP98 gene. Innovative research such as this will guide collaborations with biotech, pharma, and other academic labs to develop new therapeutic approaches for pediatric leukemia.
“I am honored to receive such visionary support, which will help move forward important scientific discoveries to benefit our patients,” said Pikman. “These grants will enable each of us to dive into research that otherwise might go unfunded,” added Heikamp. “For that, I am so grateful.”