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Two leaders in pediatric cancer receive endowed chairs through Children's Cancer Research Fund

Gene therapy expert John Ohlfest, Ph.D., holds the Hedberg Family Chair in Brain Tumor Research. (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Epidemiologist Julie Ross, Ph.D., holds the Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in
Pediatric Cancer Research. (Photo courtesy of Children's Cancer Research Fund)

Two Department of Pediatrics and Masonic Cancer Center researchers have been named the first recipients of endowed chairs established by Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

John Ohlfest, Ph.D., was named holder of the Hedberg Family Chair in Brain Tumor Research, created by longtime Children’s Cancer Research Fund supporters John and Jean Hedberg. The Hedbergs’ granddaughter Anda was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 4. Extensive treatment saved her life but left her with significant disabilities. Now 20 years old, Anda has graduated from high school and is learning to live independently.

Ohlfest’s groundbreaking work in vaccine therapy has made national and international headlines. He leads research efforts aimed at discovering the causes of pediatric brain tumors and developing new therapies for children who have them.

Julie Ross, Ph.D., has received the Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research, established by the Hodder family in honor of the late Sue Hodder. Always happy to help a friend (or stranger), Hodder particularly cherished her volunteer role with Children’s Cancer Research Fund, launched by her close friends Diana and Norm Hageboeck after their daughter Katie died of leukemia in 1979 at age 13.

The Hodder Chair supports Ross’s research on translational pediatric cancer discoveries that can lead to prevention, earlier diagnosis, new targets for therapies, and reduction in the long-term effects of treatment.

Children’s Cancer Research Fund has funded six endowed chairs at the University of Minnesota—more than any other philanthropic organization. Endowed chairs provide invaluable financial support for outstanding faculty members in their pursuit of excellence in research, education, and care.

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