Raising funding for blood cancer and GvHD research

Guest Speaker Honorary Chairman Kenneth Cooke, M.D

Together, the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital are focused on improving outcomes for children who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for malignant and non-malignant disorders. To this end, Dr. Cooke was recruited to Cleveland in 2007 as the Ohio Eminent Scholar for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine because of his expertise in stem cell transplantation and the two most frequent and severe complications following this procedure: graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and a frequently fatal form of lung disease known as idiopathic pneumonia syndrome or IPS. Dr Cooke trained at two of the nation’s top children’s hospitals – The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Boston Children’s Hospital – and brings outstanding leadership to Rainbow’s blood and marrow transplant (BMT) program. As director, the number of children and young adults transplanted at Rainbow has more than tripled.
Dr. Cooke’s research efforts are directed toward understanding the specific mechanisms responsible for the development of GVHD and IPS. Work supported by the Meredith A. Cowden Foundation has examined the ability of non-blood forming but bone marrow-derived stem cells called mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs to reduce inflammation caused by GVHD. MSCs have the capacity to both suppress the immune system and repair damaged tissue and are currently being used in clinical trials to treat a number of disorders. It is hoped that experimental observations will be instrumental in optimizing novel strategies to prevent or treat clinical GVHD. Importantly, Dr. Cooke’s research team has a successful track record in translating passed laboratory insights back to the clinical setting; agents tested initially in mouse models are being used to treat patients who have or are at risk for developing GVHD and IPS after BMT. Dr Cooke is the principle investigator on two national, multi-center trials for the treatment of IPS in both pediatric and adult BMT recipients.

Dr. Cooke is internationally recognized for his laboratory and clinical research. He recently served on the American Society of Hematology’s Scientific Subcommittee on Stem Cell Biology and the Board of Directors of the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation as the Director of Laboratory Science. Dr. Cooke is an inducted member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), a prestigious honor society of physician-scientists who translate findings in the laboratory into clinical practice advancements. He is also recognized as a Clinical Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is the recipient of a Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund