Heroes Foundation awards three-year grant to support pediatric cancer research

IU researcher Steve Angus, PhD, receives three-year research award

INDIANAPOLIS — The board of directors of the Heroes Foundation, an Indianapolis-based cancer advocacy non-profit in its twentieth year, has named Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon  Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher Steve Angus, PhD, as the newest recipient of its Team JOEY Pediatric Cancer Research Award. Dr. Angus is an assistant professor of clinical medicine and cancer cell biologist at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is part of the IU School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and the Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

Dr. Angus’ research focuses on developing new and more effective treatments for pediatric sarcomas—tumors occurring in muscle, bone and other connective tissues. His research seeks to identify new targeted therapies for these pediatric sarcomas—Ewing’s sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). Targeted therapies seek to exploit a specific vulnerability, or Achilles heel, of cancer that distinguishes it from normal tissue. One class of these therapeutics, called kinase inhibitors, is an area of expertise in Dr. Angus’ lab that he believes holds promise for sarcoma (tumor) treatment.

“Through our Team JOEY research awards, the Heroes Foundation is committed to funding research activity that seeks treatments for cancers that impact the most vulnerable patients – children,” said Heroes Foundation co-founders Vince Todd Jr and Cindy Todd. “Through this $30,000 research award, we are honored to support Dr. Angus’ efforts to better understand how unique proteins regulate cancer cell growth, survival and tumor progression, in an effort to develop therapies to treat the disease.”

“Our lab uses a new approach to profile the activity of all the detectable proteins in sarcoma cell line models, mouse models and patient tumor samples,” said Dr. Angus. “Our unique methodology can identify the proteins most active in each tumor type—potential therapeutic targets. It can also identify the changes that occur after treatment with a protein inhibitor. We have successfully used this approach to analyze cell lines, mouse models and patient samples from clinical trials involving the use of protein therapies in melanoma and breast cancer.”

“Support from the Heroes Foundation will provide essential resources needed to perform additional experiments and support the laboratory personnel doing the work,” added Dr. Angus. “Identifying the proteins that can be targeted by drugs that are already FDA-approved will provide a quicker path to clinical trials for desperately needed therapies. These studies will serve as a catalyst for additional sources of funding for my lab and have tremendous potential to directly impact the care of patients affected by pediatric sarcoma.”

The Team Joey Research Award enhances IU School of Medicine’s ability to support the work of promising young physician researchers in an environment that fosters the merging of research and treatment.

About the Heroes Foundation

The mission of the Heroes Foundation is to provide meaningful support to cancer patients, education to promote cancer prevention and resources to advance research for a cure. Born from a cancer survivor’s desire to give back, the Indianapolis-based Heroes Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity in its twentieth year of operation.


About the Team JOEY program

The mission of Team JOEY is to further the battle against pediatric cancer through research and to support young cancer patients with small-but-mighty LEGO bricks, in-hospital parties and more!

In November 2010, 7-year-old Joey Keller was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a highly malignant  primary brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum. He lost his battle two years later. Joey fought with the spirit and attitude that amazed and inspired family, friends and even caregivers. Those who have been affected in one way or another by Joey banded together to form what is now the Heroes Foundation’s Team JOEY program.


For more information, visit heroesfoundation.org; call 317-983-6580; or contactus@heroesfoundation.org