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Maggie’s Mission Supports CSHL research

Cold Spring Harbor Lab
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Pictured left to right: Donna DeSousa-Schmidt, Briana DiPardo, Dr. Toyoki Yoshimoto, Dr. Olaf Klingbeil, Dr. Chris Vakoc, Mark Svoboda, Belle Svoboda, Isabelle Grenier, Lorraine Grenier

On December 11, 2023 Donna DeSousa-Schmidt, President of Maggie’s Mission, presented a check for $50,000 to the Vakoc laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to support sarcoma research. Maggie’s Mission is an organization founded in honor of Donna’s daughter Maggie Schmidt who passed away shortly after the 17th birthday from Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor (MRT)). The organization is dedicated to funding critical research aimed at finding cures, ensuring that no child has to suffer the diseases devastating effects. With Donna were Maggies’ Mission board member Briana DiPardo, Mark Svoboda and his daughter Belle -who is currently battling RMS- and Lorraine and Isabelle Grenier. Isabelle is a Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) survivor who was first diagnosed in 2016.

The group sat with Dr. Chris Vakoc and members of his laboratory Dr. Olaf Klingbeil and Dr. Toyoki Yoshimoto to discuss their progress in RMS and other sarcomas.

Their research focus is on new target identification, which pursues a long-term goal of replacing chemotherapy with personalized medicines tailored for selectively halting sarcoma without harming normal tissues. While their efforts have a long path ahead to bring these medicines to patients, in the past year the Vakoc lab has made several important discoveries that fill major gaps in our knowledge of sarcoma and revealing its vulnerabilities. With pediatric cancer consistently underfunded, researchers rely on the generous support from private donors and foundations to bring novel therapeutics and cutting edge research to the fight against RMS and other pediatric cancers.