Samir N. Khleif, MD Samir N. Khleif, MD
Director, GRU Cancer Center

Theirs is something about a stone and still water that is irresistible. Given the opportunity, there are very few who can – or will – resist the opportunity to toss that rock and watch, with pleasure the immediate splash and the subsequent ripples.

Earlier this month, the Press On foundation and the GRU Cancer Center threw a rock into a pond – and it made a pretty big splash. The Press On announcement pledging $2.5 million to translational pediatric cancer research drew attention to the foundation, the Cancer Center, pediatric cancer, clinical trials and the science of immunology. A big splash.

And now that the initial splash has subsided some, we are left with the ripples. The thing about ripples is that while they might not make the kind of commotion we associate with a splash, their influence and reach is far more substantial. The splash affects the center of a pond. The ripples reach every shore.

That, of course, begs the questions – what do we expect from our ripples. Certainly an increased ability to engage in bench-to-bedside research on cancers affecting our very youngest patients – that work has already begun. But there’s not a single member of the GRU Cancer Center family that goes untouched by acts of generosity such as this. The pediatric cancer research is a part of a bigger whole and a link in a chain that transcends any single demographic, disease type or therapeutic approach.

Think of it this way. The pediatric research being funded focuses on the science of immunology – the enhancement of the body’s ability to combat cancer on its own. Many of the discoveries made in these pediatric trials can be adapted to adult patients and a variety of cancers. That research will spawn trials of its own. Those trials will lead to the innovative treatments that represent the future of cancer treatment not just at the GRU Cancer Center, but throughout the world.


The rewards are not just measured in fiscal assistance and research goals. The ripples extend father, much farther, than that. You see, the GRU Cancer Center is not, and cannot be, an island. We are part of a community – this community – and we see success as building something that proves beneficial not only to patients, their families and friends, but the entire region. As we continue toward our goal of National Cancer Institute designation, it becomes more and more clear that our success will affect, and also depend on support from, this community. Big splash moments such as the Press On announcement remind us of that. The people it draws into the Cancer Center family is the tangible result.


There will, in the not-too-distant future, be more big splash moments for the Cancer Center – new research, new trials and new construction. And we are looking forward to those – that is, after all, still part of the appeal of throwing that stone into the water. But what I’m sure will prove more interesting is what those splashes will mean in the long run.

I want to see those ripples.


Dr. Samir N. Khleif has more than 22 years’ experience in cancer research and treatment, including in the Cancer Vaccine Section at the National Cancer Institute. The GRU Cancer Center is working toward becoming a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

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Allison Brown
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Written by Allison Brown

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