The Funding Challenge

The Funding Challenge

Pediatric cancer research at Riley Children’s Health costs on average $15 a minute.

The Caroline Symmes Endowment exists in response to the serious need for research funding in the field of pediatric oncology. This program aims to both fund cutting-edge research and provide children with clinical care based in the findings of that research. It’s true that in 2016, the federal budget for cancer research is $5.21 billion, but only an average of 4% of that funding is given to pediatric cancer research. Caroline lost her life because of this lack of research funding, and the best way we can think of to act in her memory is to help better equip our physicians to prevent future tragedies for other families.

According to Dr. Wade Clapp, the Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University’s Herman B. Wells Center, funding for pediatric cancer research is rare for a number of reasons. One of these is the difference between adult cancers and children’s cancers. For adults, cancer is often malignant, and occurs in relatively predictable places like the colon, the lymph nodes, or the lungs. Pediatric cancers are malignant less often, and those which are life-threatening have very diverse origins.

“Children’s cancers are known in the industry as orphan diseases,” Dr. Clapp said. “They occur so rarely as compared to other illnesses that the funding and focus [for research] is directed elsewhere.”

The field’s lack of priority for public funding is what makes the Caroline Symmes Endowment’s support of pediatric cancer research so important. With our endowment, we will fund the new Non-CNS Solid Tumor Program at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis, IN, a research department with the goal of giving every child the future they deserve.  “This is a program making a long-term commitment to an investigator in a department, and trusting that this individual will move science forward,” Dr. Clapp said. “The work that will come from this endowment over the next 5-10 years will be astounding.”

In the current economic climate of eroding federal research funds, donor support for the fight against childhood cancer is more critical than ever. Thank you for your interest in supporting this effort to save children’s lives.


Pediatric Cancer Statistics

  • Each year 360 children are diagnosed with cancer in Indiana
  • Pediatric Solid Tumors account for 30-40% of all childhood cancers
  • Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States
  • Each year, an estimated 263,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide. That’s 720 new kids affected each day.
  • Every day approximately 250 kids around the world die from cancer; 91,250 lose their life due the disease every year.
  • One in 330 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old.
  • Two-thirds of childhood cancer patients will have long-lasting chronic conditions from treatment.
  • Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.
  • Less than 5 percent of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancer each year.
  • The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors, unlike many adult cancers.
  • Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly, and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among children and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.

If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of the endowment’s research focus, read about Our Research Mission, or if you’re ready to learn about the wide range of ways our friends support us, learn How to Help today.