New Research Aims to Improve the Lives of Children with High Grade Glioma

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has been awarded a $100,000 Josh Metzger Memorial Fox Trot Grant sponsored by the Prayers From Maria Foundation, in support of pediatric neurosurgical oncology research. Violette Recinos, MD, director of pediatric neurosurgical oncology at the Cleveland Clinic, and her team will use the grant to study genetic mechanisms behind pediatric high grade glioma brain tumors. Their studies could lead to new therapeutics designed to alter how cancer genes work inside tumors.

Pediatric high grade glioma is the most fatal cancer in children. Its poor prognosis is due to its rapid growth, highly invasive nature and resistance to conventional treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Certain genetic mutations significantly increase a child's risk of developing high grade glioma. There is an urgent need for new therapeutic approaches that help limit the effects of these mutations. Recinos and her team’s new studies focus on drug-like molecules that inhibit harmful genetic control mechanisms inside tumors. The funding will also support the newly created Pediatric Neurosurgical Oncology Research Program at the Cleveland Clinic.

“We are grateful to be given the opportunity to conduct research that will advance our understanding of high grade glioma, thanks to Prayers From Maria,” said Recinos, who is Principal Investigator of the study. “My team and I plan to identify specific inhibitor molecules that can be used independently or in conjunction with low-dose radiotherapy to kill tumor cells. We look forward to developing a new set of treatments that could improve life expectancy in children with deadly brain tumors.”

“Prayers From Maria’s generous gift gives us the opportunity to study specific treatments for high grade glioma in children,” said Stan Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “There is an urgent need for more effective childhood cancer treatments, and Recinos and her team of collaborators are continuing to charge in the right direction towards a cure.”

Prayers From Maria was inspired by the prayers of seven-year-old Maria McNamara, who died in 2007 after battling a brain stem glioma. While Maria was receiving treatment at St. Jude, she prayed for other sick children that she met, hoping the doctors would find a way to help them and make them better. Prayers From Maria, founded by Maria’s parents Ed and Megan
McNamara of Avon Lake, Ohio, is dedicated to answering Maria’s prayers by funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for gliomas and bringing hope to children and families who deal with the disease’s hardships. Its 50-acre Maria’s Field of Hope sunflower garden in Avon, Ohio, attracts thousands of visitors each year, and its annual summer events—The Sunflower Soiree and Sunflower Wine Festival—raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund children’s brain cancer research. To date, Prayers From Maria has announced over a million dollars in grants to fund the most promising research studies. Each grant that Prayers From Maria awards is always named in honor and memory of a child lost to brain cancer.


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For more information about the Prayers From Maria Foundation and its impact on childhood brain tumor research, visit

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Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 51,000 employees are more than 3,500 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 14,000 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 10 regional hospitals, more than 150 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in Weston, Fla.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2016, there were 7.1 million outpatient visits, 161,674 hospital admissions and 207,610 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

Media Contact(s):

Ansley Gogol
Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine

Halle Bishop
Cleveland Clinic