The Team Jack Foundation is proud to announce a commitment of $10,000 in June to support the education of Dr. Chittalsinh Raulji in pediatric neuro-oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. This grant is part of Team Jack’s Power 5 Brain Tumor Initiative at UNMC.
As Nebraska’s only cancer center, UNMC is deeply committed to caring for the children of our region with top-notch care. In order to do this, it is important to have specialized physicians to treat kids, specifically with brain cancer. To complete the team of physicians necessary to treat kids with brain tumors, a pediatric neuro-oncologist is critical to ensure access to advanced care and clinical trials. Due to the high demand for pediatric neuro-oncologists and their limited numbers, it has been difficult to recruit one to Nebraska. Despite this challenge, UNMC has successfully filled this gap.
Dr. Raulji completed his Hematology/Oncology fellowship from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans in 2015, joining the UNMC oncology group in 2020. Prior to coming to Nebraska, he practiced in Bangor, Maine for five years and cared for brain tumor patients, often collaborating with Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Raulji’s fellowship research was in glioblastoma multiforme, and he was considering a pediatric neuro-oncology specialization. Understanding the need for neuro-oncology care here in Nebraska, Dr. Raulji has committed to focusing solely on pediatric neurooncology and to advancing his education with this opportunity at the University of Colorado.
The pediatric neuro-oncology group at Children’s Hospital Colorado has agreed to host Dr. Raulji for three months this summer to provide an intensive education of clinical neuro-oncology. Dr. Raulji’s prior experience allows for a shorter immersive educational experience to attain the clinical knowledge necessary to fulfill the clinical role and offers opportunities for ongoing collaboration even after the time on-site ends. The grant from the Team Jack Foundation will cover expenses for Dr. Raulji to go to Colorado this summer to receive this extensive education.
Dr. Raulji’s vision is that he would function as the bridge between the bench and the bedside back to the bench, helping translate research ideas into clinical trials, while simultaneously bringing relevant clinical questions to the group for deeper investigations employing the scientific process.
“We have eager, earnest scientists with expertise in cancer signaling pathways that go awry, how cancers manipulate DNA repair machinery to survive, developing nanoparticle-conjugated drugs and small molecule inhibitors, and targeting the tumor for drug delivery, to name a few. We have the infrastructure and collaborative spirit to truly lead breakthroughs in elucidating brain tumor pathophysiology and treatment. I feel that Dr. Raulji will provide an essential link by making our work relevant to the patient experience, eventually culminating in our Nebraskan children with brain tumors leading better lives,” said Dr. Sidharth Mahapatra, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UNMC who is also Co-director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Group and Chair of the Medulloblastoma Collaborative.
While the team at UNMC and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center continue to investigate novel treatments for pediatric patients with brain tumors, Dr. Raulji will be evaluating and improving their clinical experience in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. He has a vision to continue the development of the comprehensive pediatric brain tumor clinic to include multiple disciplines relative to patients and their families, whether that be other medical teams, behavioral health or neurocognitive evaluations.
“The resources provided by Team Jack allow him to think big as it applies to the experience of Nebraska children and their families,” said Dr. Don Coulter, Professor of Pediatric Oncology at UNMC and Director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Group.