Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels Supports Pediatric Cancer Research

Dallas/Fort Worth Hyundai dealers joined Hyundai Motor America in awarding a $40,000 grant to support pediatric cancer research at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Check presentation by Hyundai

The funds, which were given through Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels program, will support the research of Dr. Raven Cooksey, a fellow at UT Southwestern. The grant will foster Dr. Cooksey’s work on metabolic syndrome in pediatric survivors of brain tumors that have been treated with radiation therapy.

“Pediatric cancer research is among UT Southwestern’s most compelling priorities, and we are honored that Hope on Wheels has recognized one of our bright, young scientists through this generous grant,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of the medical center. “It is heartening when community-minded companies support causes they believe in, and Hyundai’s program is a wonderful example of that spirit.

”An estimated 2,200 children and adolescents are diagnosed with brain tumors annually, making brain cancer the second most common form of childhood cancer. With current five-year survival rates topping 73 percent, the majority of these patients will become long-term survivors. They may, however, be at an increased risk for side effects known as metabolic syndrome, which are characterized by high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension and insulin resistance.

The grant was presented to Dr. Cooksey recently during a Hope on Wheels handprint ceremony at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. During the ceremony, young cancer patients marked their handprints with colorful paint on a Hyundai Santa Fe to commemorate their battles with the disease.

“Hyundai and its dealers are committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer – a cause we have been dedicated to for the past 13 years,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “Our company thrives on new thinking and new possibilities, and Hope on Wheels supports doctors and hospitals doing just that – creating new possibilities that could someday cure childhood cancer. I’m extremely proud that each year Hyundai and its dealers have surpassed the company’s commitment to support important research that will find a cure for this dreaded disease.”

Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels Supports Pediatric Cancer Research

Hope on Wheels will award research grants to 50 children’s research institutions across the country this year. The grant recipients, known as “Hyundai Scholars,” will receive a combined $2.7 million from the organization to help fund new pediatric cancer research projects.

Hope on Wheels will donate $10.2 million to the fight against childhood cancer in 2011, a 15 percent increase over last year. Since it was established in 1998, the organization has donated more than $34 million to the cause.

Dr. Cooksey’s research will focus on the possible connection between cranial radiation – a common brain tumor treatment – and metabolic syndrome.

“The long-term implication is to change current practice in caring for survivors of these tumors, so that patients with metabolic syndrome may be identified and treated in a more timely fashion, thus minimizing the morbidity and mortality of this late effect,” Dr. Cooksey said. “Working with childhood cancer patients and their families is an honor and delight. Our field has come so far in improving the treatment and cure rates for these kids, but our therapies are not without risk of long-term complications.

“Hyundai has been incredibly generous with its support of pediatric cancer research, and I hope that the results of this research project will help us improve life for survivors of childhood brain tumors.”

Dr. Cooksey earned her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine in 2006. After completing her residency training in pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Tulsa, she began fellowship training at UT Southwestern in pediatric hematology/oncology in 2009.

By Rachel Donihoo