Wish Lists Lead to Cures

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The 2015 Young Investigator Summit

The future - where there is a cure for all kids with childhood cancer - lies in the hands of young scientists who are just starting out in their careers in research. This doesn't mean seasoned researchers are not making a difference or have a place in the future, but young scientists have their whole careers ahead of them. With the pace science is advancing now, we have a chance to make huge advancements in the coming years.

For many years at Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), we had on our wish list the desire to design a summit that brings together the young scientists who are doing research funded by ALSF. A summit where scientists could meet, learn about each other's research and hear from the top, experienced childhood cancer researchers in the world. Wouldn't that be amazing? Having an event like that would bring these elements together, build important collaborations and would change lives.

Over 4 years ago, I sat in a room with a company that wanted to make a difference in the childhood cancer world. They asked us what was on our wish list and we told them about our idea of a Young Investigator Summit. That company, Northwestern Mutual, loved the idea because young scientists was a focus of their philanthropy and they agreed to underwrite the cost of the summit.

As I sit here on a plane heading to the 4th annual ALSF Young Investigator Summit in Chicago, I think about the 55 young scientists who will be there. I think about the ideas and collaborations that will result from these scientists meeting each other. I think about the young kids who might be alive today because of a treatment a scientist learned about from a previous summit. And I think about the kids who will no doubt be saved because of treatments these scientists have a hand in developing.

I think about the differences being made because someone once asked what was on our wish list and we had an answer. It's time to make sure we have new items on our wish list.

What is on your wish list and are you ready to present it at a moment's notice?