While in the hospital receiving treatment for her cancer, Kellsie promised her oncologist that she would someday help him with his research. He could never had imagined how well this spunky little teenage girl would keep that promise. To date, the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation has donated $1,000,000.00 to the Druley Pediatric Oncology Lab and Dr. VanTine Osteosarcoma Research Lab at Washington University School of Medicine.
In November at the Trees of Hope Gala, Dr. Druley extended his thank you for all the years of support that he received through Kellsie’s Hope Foundation; however, this was the last year that he would be able to accept a check. As of November 30th, after nearly 20 years, Dr. Druley resigned completely from Washington University and is now the Chief Medical Officer for ANGLE Biosciences, which is a biotech company working to improve cancer treatment and outcomes through “circulating tumor cells”, which are cells from a person’s cancer that break off and float free in the bloodstream. Through a simple blood test, ANGLE has developed a new technology to capture these cells and Dr. Druley will be leading efforts to guide physicians on how to study these cells to personalize cancer treatment. While he will not be leaving St. Louis, he has a team of collaborators at Wash U who will finish the projects that have been underway all this time. He will not be with the university officially, but they are still supporting him and his collaborators to finish the projects that have been underway all this time. Dr. Druley has mountains of data on infant leukemia, leukemia in children with Down Syndrome and blood mutations in the same people from birth into their 20s. He will still be part of the team getting these done. Leading these efforts will be a new oncologist and researcher from Memorial Sloan Kettering. Her name is Kelly Bolton, MD, PhD, and she manages a cancer genetics data analysis team. She and Dr. Druley are going to collaborate to finish the projects using her team. The check that KHF presented this year will pay for the computational resources, any additional testing to validate the results and the personnel doing the work. These projects are in collaboration with pediatric cancer researchers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and England. They expect multiple scientific publications to arise that will help pediatric oncologists design the next phase of clinical trials for children with these conditions.
Dr. Druley expressed his hopes that no one feels that he is turning his back on KHF after a decade of support, quite the contrary. His current opportunities would not have been possible without the achievements made through the support of KHF, and he will continue to be an avid supporter of Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. “You have no idea how helpful these funds are when you are unproven scientist in a highly competitive arena. It allows one to take scientific chances that are expensive and might be avoided without having these reserves. I believe that KHF will enrich the career development of additional up-and-coming cancer researchers, and I would like to think that Kellsie would also like helping new doctors with new ideas build their careers as well”, said Dr. Druley.