Personalizing Cancer Treatments for the Youngest of Patients

$300K from Hugs for Brady Foundation supports pediatric precision medicine efforts at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
December 10, 2013

Hugs for BradyNew Brunswick, N.J. – The aim of personalizing cancer treatments by targeting genomic mutations in the cancer has seen rapid advances in recent years. However, many of these targeted cancer therapies have been more frequently identified for adult patients. Recognizing a need to further explore genomic profiling in pediatric malignancies, the Hugs for Brady Foundation has committed $300,000 to the precision medicine initiative at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. 

Precision medicine constitutes a different method of identifying best treatment options for patients. Instead of prescribing therapy based solely on the organ where the cancer originated, clinicians utilize genomic analysis for a more comprehensive approach.  Through a rapid gene sequencing test, the tiniest details of a tumor biopsy are uncovered, sometimes revealing one or more mutations in the patient’s genes.  It is the mutations themselves that can be targeted with new or existing drugs. At the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, a team of physician-scientists, bioinformatics specialists, systems biologists, pathologists and a host of others meets weekly to discuss profiling results and determine therapy options. Currently, a genomic analysis clinical trial at the Cancer Institute is focused on those patients with rare or poor-prognosis cancers, including pediatric patients. It is the youngest of patients that Sherrie and Michael Wells, founders of Hugs for Brady, have focused their efforts and are hoping to help with their gift.    

The Kendall Park couple is no stranger to the work being done and exceptional care being provided at the Cancer Institute, as their son Brady Michael was treated there for acute undifferentiated leukemia before his passing in 2010, a few weeks shy of his second birthday. It was shortly after that they created the foundation with an aim of comforting children faced with cancer and providing resources to advance research in pediatric cancers and blood disorders. Demonstrating its commitment to research, last year the Foundation established the Hugs for Brady Foundation Pediatric Young Investigator Award at the Cancer Institute. The purpose of the two-year grant is to foster the early career development of a promising young scientist while they pursue innovative pediatric cancer research. This new commitment to the precision medicine initiative will provide additional opportunities over the next three years for physicians to analyze the genomic profiles of pediatric patients to better understand their cancers and help improve treatment options.

“While pediatric cancer survivor rates are generally high, there are those children – like Brady – who unfortunately lose their fight due to rare forms of the disease. Hugs for Brady is committed to helping scientists further unlock the mysteries of rare pediatric cancers. By supporting the cutting edge research and expert analysis being conducted through the precision medicine initiative at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we are moving closer to a cure,” noted Sherrie Wells.

“Recent research shows that more potential targets are being identified through genomic analysis for pediatric cancers. The commitment put forth by Hugs for Brady will help Cancer Institute investigators further build on those findings so that optimal treatments can be found for these young patients,” said Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD, associate director for translational science at the Cancer Institute, who is the lead investigator of the genomic analysis trial and an associate professor of medicine and pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We are grateful to the Hugs for Brady Foundation for its continued dedication to the fight against pediatric cancer.”

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at the Cancer Institute engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life.  To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 732-235-8614 or visit Follow us on Facebook at

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: CentraState Healthcare System, JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Shore Medical Center, Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital/Rutgers New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. *Academic Affiliate

About Hugs for Brady
With more than 500 volunteers, the Hugs for Brady Foundation remains dedicated to its mission of bringing about awareness of pediatric cancer and providing such amenities as toys, electronics, food and other comforts of home to pediatric patients being treated at the Cancer Institute, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (the Flagship Hospital of the Cancer Institute), and at other area hospitals throughout New Jersey. Hugs for Brady is currently preparing for its 2014 Annual Winter Gala, on February 8, 2014, to be held at The Palace at Somerset Park. Proceeds from the event also will support the precision medicine initiative at the Cancer Institute. To learn more, visit:


Michele Fisher









precision medicine at Rutgers Cancer Institute








Proud member of
Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium



Rutgers Health