ATF’s primary motivation is and always has been to identify creative ways to influence the cancer community, by providing multiple layers of service-driven support to nursing care staff, doctors, and families.
The Alexandra Jane Miliotis Oncology Nursing Support Endowment (March, 2003) was established by the Alex’s Team Foundation as a result of the close relationships formed between Alex, and her family and the nurses who treated her. After witnessing the hard work, knowledge, and passion of the nursing staff on 7West (now 6NorthEast) and 6West during Alexandra’s hard-fought 10-month battle, the Miliotis family sought an avenue to support the incredible professionals who care for these high-risk patients every day.
The only one of its kind, this program enables nurses to host speakers at annual pediatric oncology retreats, supports attendance at national nursing conferences, and provides financial assistance to staff in their individual and collaborative development of innovative project ideas and journal publications. By providing the staff at Boston Children’s Hospital with the vital resources they need for education and respite opportunities, the “Alex’s Team” Foundation helps to ensure the best possible care for children and families, now and into the future.
Alex’s Team supports initiatives such as: • Hospital to Home
• Palliative Care
• Seminars and Training Workshops
In partnership with the Piccolo Family Charitable Foundation, each year ATF supports 1-2 interns on the Oncology/Hematology floor at Boston Children’s Hospital to support the nursing and Resource Room staff. In this competitive internship, high school or college applicants are selected to pursue their interests in the medical field, gaining practical experience in a hospital setting. Our intern alumnae have gone on to pursue endeavors such as medical school and other careers in Pediatric Oncology – one alumna now works as a Staff Nurse on the floor and another as a Program Coordinator!
With the help of ATF funding, Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, is applying novel compounds to dissect and manipulate the cell signaling pathways that are integral in apoptosis in order to reactivate them to overcome cancer.
Walensky inserted a chemical “staple” into a natural but otherwise unstable cell-killing peptide. This reactivated the apoptosis cell-signaling pathway in leukemia cells. When the stapled peptide was injected into mice, it suppressed human-type leukemia. Compounds such as this one are now used to study the interactions of proteins inside cells, giving scientists a “molecular toolbox” to study and to potentially treat cancer and other diseases.
“Alex’s Team” funding supports researchers and interns in Dr. Walensky’s Laboratory.
Loren Walensky, MD, PhD on staff at Children’s and the DFCI Jimmy Fund Clinic, and medical director of the Program in Cancer Chemical Biology at the DFCI, was one of Alexandra’s outstanding doctors, and is recognized internationally in his field as a significant contributor in both research and clinical pediatric oncology practices.
Under Dr. Walensky’s leadership, and through his affiliation with Harvard Medical School, ATF created the Alexandra J. Miliotis Pediatric Oncology Research Fund at Harvard Medical School. “Alex’s Team” has now funded 50 grants to Harvard Medical students – “Alex Miliotis Fellows” – in the field of pediatric oncology, including such topics as genetic expression and mutation, cancer treatment methods, and family support services.
This is a competitive Fellowship, designed to provide selected Harvard Medical School students with the opportunity to conduct research in pediatric oncology at Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and affiliated hospitals and research laboratories. These students gain practical experience in hospital and research settings , under the mentorship of on-staff clinical/research physicians.
As of 2017, more than 70% of the funded Fellows continue to pursue work in the pediatric oncology field. Many of the fellowship recipients maintain a relationship with “Alex’s Team,” expressing their sincere appreciation for the unique opportunities afforded to them by the Foundation, and “paying it forward” by introducing their incoming classmates to the opportunity to participate in this program.