Newswise – March 18, 2024 – Neptune, NJ – Hackensack Meridian Health The Foundation is pleased to announce that the Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital has received a $50,000 grant from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support the expansion of pediatric clinical studies – important tools in the fight against childhood cancer.

“We are thrilled that the Children’s Cancer Institute at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital has received this grant for the first time from St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which will provide our littlest patients with greater access to important clinical trials,” said Vito Buccellato, MPA, LNHA, President and Chief Hospital Executive, Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “We congratulate Dr. Jessica Scerbo and her team and know that this grant will have a tremendous impact on our patients in our community.”

“Our pediatric experts make significant efforts to advance the care of our patients,” said Kenneth N. Sable, MD, MBA, FACEP, regional president, Southern Market, Hackensack Meridian Health. “The generous support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation will help our team continue to provide the best, most advanced life-enhancing care to our youngest patients.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation infrastructure grant will be used to hire a clinical research assistant, which will more than double the pediatric cancer trial offering at Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

“What wonderful support from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for our pediatric oncology program at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital,” said Harpreet Pall, MD, MBA, CPE, academic chair and professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital and Regional Chair, Pediatrics Southern Market at Hackensack Meridian Health. “Clinical trials are essential for all oncology patients, and the ability to expand our clinical trials to more pediatric patients in our community is an accomplishment. This will allow us to provide convenience and additional comfort and healing to our patients and their families by not having to travel long distances.”

“This grant will provide a significant boost to expanding our pediatric cancer research and helping patients for years to come,” said Jessica Scerbo, MD, principal investigator and chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. “This position is critical so we can increase the number of clinical trials offered, which will allow these vulnerable patients and their families to stay closer to home while receiving the care they need and deserve.”

This generous funding from St. Baldrick’s Foundation will allow five new pediatric cancer clinical trials to open in 2024.

“While we are excited and eager to take action, we must ensure the necessary checks and balances are in place to provide the highest quality and, most importantly, the safest care to our littlest warriors,” said Dr. Scerbo. “With a dedicated clinical research assistant, we can streamline the careful process of monitoring, sample collection and data processing required for these important clinical trials. St. Baldrick’s Foundation shares our urgency in supporting impactful clinical research to combat childhood cancer.”

The grant is part of a $1.1 million infrastructure grant awarded by St. Baldrick’s Foundation in 15 states to advance the enrollment of children in cancer clinical trials. The funding is intended to support these necessary roles to ensure more patients are treated in a clinical trial – often their best hope for a cure. The medical professionals who conduct these clinical trials are “unsung heroes,” according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charitable funder of pediatric cancer research grants.

“We thank St. Baldrick’s Foundation from the bottom of our hearts for their generous support,” said Ellen Hahn, director of development for child health at Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation’s K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. “This grant will further empower our pediatric oncology team to provide the much-needed access to vital care that our pediatric patients need and deserve, and we are so grateful!”

The Children’s Cancer Program at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital was established under the leadership of Dr. Scerbo expanded. The program became the first affiliate of the Children’s Oncology Group, a clinical trial collaboration supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to pediatric and adolescent cancer research.

Dr. Scerbo and her team at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, along with the Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health team at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center, are among the top 50 for pediatric cancer treatment US News and World Report.

About Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health

Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health provides the most comprehensive, highest quality care to young patients in the state of New Jersey. The Children’s Network consists of two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune – and a large network of pediatric subspecialists and pediatricians throughout New Jersey, including a multidisciplinary practice and inpatient services at JFK University Medical Center in Edison. Both hospitals were ranked No. 1 in New Jersey for the third consecutive year in the US News & World Report 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospital Report. The combined care programs of both hospitals also ranked among the top 50 nationally in pediatric cancer, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, and urology, earning the most national recognition ever received by a children’s hospital in New Jersey. Visit to learn more about Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.

Around Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, endowment

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3), is the philanthropic arm of Hackensack Meridian Health, a leading nonprofit healthcare organization that is the largest, most comprehensive, and truly integrated healthcare network in New Jersey, offering: full range of medical services, more innovative Research and life-enhancing care. The foundation oversees fundraising for the network’s three academic medical centers, two children’s hospitals and seven community medical center foundations, as well as key initiatives, programs and services offered by Hackensack Meridian Health, including nursing support, behavioral health, children’s health and Hackensack The Center for Meridian Health Discovery & Innovation and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.

Hackensack Meridian Health The Foundation was recognized as both a “High Performer Overall” and a “High Performer in Healthcare” by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) in its 2023 Giving Report.

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