Shelia Santacroce receives grant from Northwestern Mutual and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

On March 5, Shelia Santacroce, PhD, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Member and Beerstecher-Blackwell Distinguished Scholar, received a $50,000 research grant from Northwestern Mutual and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to fund children’s cancer research.

Dr. Santacroce, who is also a member of the Family Health Division at the UNC School of Nursing, will work alongside co-investigators Debra Barksdale, PhD, also from the School of Nursing and Jamie Crandell, PhD, from the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. They plan to examine systematic inflammation and arterial stiffness in children ages seven through 17 for nine months after they complete cancer therapy.

Stiffened arteries require a greater amount of force to expand, forcing the heart to work harder. Therefore, according to Dr. Santacroce, arterial stiffness can potentially indicate whether cancer treatment puts a child’s heart at risk. Dr. Santacroce and her team will also explore whether the psychological and physiological responses that children have to cancer will affect their risk for adverse cardiovascular side effects.

The grant was presented to Dr. Santacroce by Jay Scott, co-executive director of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Mike Condrey, managing partner of Northwestern Mutual. “One of the biggest obstacles to curing childhood cancer is the lack of research funding,” said Condrey. “Locally, we’re funding top university nurse researchers who are making a difference.”

 Northwestern Mutual, through the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, has teamed up with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to focus on fighting childhood cancer. This grant is part of a two-year, $100,000 Nurse Discovery Award.