New Funding Focus Targets Cancer and Autism

Feature Story Fall 2011 Mike Jensen

The pioneering cancer research of Dr. Mike Jensen (above) and the care provided by Seattle Children's Autism Center (below) will benefit from the Guild Association Funding Focus in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

"We are working to cure cancer with no worse side effects than feeling like you have a cold for a couple of days," says Dr. Mike Jensen, who leads the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Jensen has developed a T-cell therapy that "reprograms" the body's own immune system to kill cancer cells. Such immunotherapy may eventually achieve a much higher success rate than current treatments, without the common side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

The promise of Jensen's research to radically improve the way cancer is treated is one reason why Guild Association trustees recently voted to raise $2 million for cancer research through the next Funding Focus. Trustees also committed $1 million to expand autism services. The combined $3 million will be raised during fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

"We're in the right place at the right time for both initiatives," says trustee Jana Dukelow, who discussed Funding Focus possibilities with hospital leaders. "Breakthroughs in the fight against cancer are within reach, and the autism center urgently needs to grow."

The Funding Focus, which receives a small percentage of the money raised for uncompensated care, is a Guild Association initiative that has generated $18 million for facilities, research and clinical care since 2000.

Critical support

Jensen's next step is to test the effectiveness of his research findings through clinical trials that could potentially lead to new immune-based cancer therapies. A clinical trial is sometimes a patient's best hope after other treatments fail. Trials cost an estimated $30,000 per patient, and enrollment is not likely to be covered by insurance, since trials are considered experimental treatments.

The Funding Focus will provide $1.5 million in uncompensated care to cover the cost of participating in the clinical trials. The other $500,000 will go toward meeting the center's greatest needs, such as supplies or equipment.

"Please accept my heartfelt gratitude," says Jensen. "Guild support is vitally important to our goal of putting an end to childhood cancer."

An urgent need

Feature Story Autism Center Patient Fall 2011
Feature Story Autism Center Fall 2011

Throughout the country, the need for autism diagnoses and services far exceeds the resources of communities - and the situation is no different in Seattle. Seattle Children's Autism Center opened in August 2009 with a 500-person waiting list; that waiting list has grown to 1,500, even though the center has grown as well.

Early intervention is crucial to treating children with autism, yet the wait time from referral to appointment averages 277 days.

With support from the Funding Focus, the center will add more staff and be able to see more patients. It will also increase its capacity for highly requested services - such as respite care, which gives parents a break by providing appropriate short-term care for children with autism.

The Funding Focus will also support a facility expansion that will add needed clinical space to the center and help make it even more comfortable and inviting.

"We are thrilled to increase our capacity to serve patients and families," says Lynn Vigo, MSW, an autism center family advisor (pictured above, in blue). "Many thanks to guilds for your amazing gift!"

"Individual guild members make it possible for us to support leading-edge programs at Children's," adds Dukelow. "Because of your efforts, kids in our region will benefit for years to come."

Support the Funding Focus

Consider supporting the Funding Focus by directing part of the proceeds from your guild's paddle raise, raffle or silent auction. For more information about how to support the Funding Focus or to arrange for a speaker at your event, email the Guild Association or call 206-987-2153.