UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital has received two awards totaling $300,000 to fund research into treatments for various pediatric cancers: a $150,000 award from the Hyundai Hope On Wheels Foundation and a $150,000 award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. 

The awards will support the work of Dr. Steven Jonas, clinical fellow in the division of pediatric hematology/oncology and trainee at the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. He is one of 40 recipients of the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Young Investigator Grant, presented during September for National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and one of 18 recipients of this year’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand Young Investigator Grants.

The research group led by Jonas and his mentor Paul Weiss, UC presidential chair and distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, materials science and engineering, and member of the California NanoSystems Institute, targets the development and application of nanotechnologies that enable rapid, safe and efficient use of gene-editing tools to treat a wide range of diseases. The support from Hyundai Hope On Wheels and Alex’s Lemonade Stand will be used to advance their efforts in developing innovative new treatments.

“It’s a privilege as a physician-scientist to serve our pediatric patients and their families in their battles against childhood cancer,” Jonas said. “This funding provides critical support at this early stage of my career for our group’s research efforts, which target the development and application of nanotechnologies that enable next-generation cellular immunotherapies and will help us bring these innovations to patients not only here at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, but all across the globe.”

Jonas and leadership of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital accepted the Hyundai Hope On Wheels grant at a ceremony at the hospital with Hyundai leadership, children battling cancer and their families. Northwestern Mutual, which co-funded the Alex’s Lemonade Stand grant, presented Jonas and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital with the grant funds during a check presentation at the hospital.

Additionally, Weiss and Jonas’ group is participating in Alex’s Million Mile, a run-walk-bike challenge during the September to raise support for childhood cancer research. Those interested in participating with the team or contributing can visit the fundraising page of the UCLA Nano Transformers.