Cure Childhood Cancer License Plate

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gabriel Santistevan is a 14-year-old brain tumor survivor from Aurora, Colorado who has spent the last 12 months working to complete the steps necessary to create a childhood cancer awareness special license plate, including acquiring more than 8,000 petition signatures and testifying at a handful of committee hearings in the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives. Gabe is currently an eighth grader in Aurora. He completed treatment for Stage IV Medulloblastoma brain cancer in June 2014 and is cancer-free, though he deals with a number of difficult side effects from his treatment.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill to create the Cure Childhood Cancer special license plate. Proceeds from the license plate will benefit two local nonprofit organizations who are helping in the fight against kids’ cancer: The Morgan Adams Foundation and Cops Fighting Cancer.Cops Fighting Cancer  provides financial assistance to families in the midst of a child’s cancer diagnosis, and The Morgan Adams Foundation funds pediatric cancer research at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.



Are you interested in the plate?
Send us an email and we’ll keep you up to date!




Like a Boss Hats

Thursday, May 10, 2018


These hats were designed with Leigh and Cooper in mind. The “like a boss” logo celebrates, Leigh Anderson, who decided to handle her cancer diagnosis “like a boss.” She had this tattooed on her arm and many of her loved ones have done the same.

The back of the hats include NGU#2. NGU#2 celebrates Cooper Deming. NGU/Never Give Up was a club that Cooper and his friends made up in elementary school and #2 was Cooper’s baseball number. After experiencing double vision, Cooper was diagnosed with a brain tumor just days after finishing 6 grade and passed away May 2017. The world lost an amazingly bright star in Cooper.

In honor of Cooper, we will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the hats to The Morgan Adams Foundation. The Morgan Adams Foundation raises money and awareness on behalf of children affected with cancer. Working with leading physicians, they directly fund pediatric cancer research and therapies which will improve survival rates and reduce the devastating side-effects cancer treatments have on our children. Cooper and Leigh, we will never stop telling your stories. 





This custom technical trucker hat combines the look and attitude of a trucker hat with performance fabrications.

  • Performance woven material front
  • Wicking internal sweatband
  • Structured front panels
  • Mesh side and back panels
  • Adjustable plastic snap back



Monday, April 23, 2018

Dr. Adam Green joined the neuro-oncology group at Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2014. He has a dual role – caring for patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado in the pediatric neuro-oncology department and conducting research for The Morgan Adams Foundation Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program. His goal is to develop better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for rare brain tumors that have low survival rates. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which has a 0% survival rate, is at the top of his list. The tumor is rare: about 200 patients, mostly between the ages of five and nine, are diagnosed each year in the U.S. The sole treatment option for DIPG is radiation, which only serves to slow the tumor’s progression, not stop it.
I planned to become a pediatrician when I was in high school and I was a neurobiology major in college. I became interested in pediatric brain tumors in medical school and then specifically in DIPG because of a patient I treated during my first year of fellowship. It felt unacceptable to me that we still have a disease in our field for which we can offer patients and families no hope for cure, unlike every other cancer we treat. I felt compelled to try to change this through research.
In my work on DIPG to this point, we have used cell culture and lab models of the disease, created directly from patient tumor samples, to identify new weaknesses in these tumors and try to exploit those weaknesses through new treatments. We have been able to bring two of these treatments into clinical trials.
One trial is designed to determine whether chemotherapy delivered orally or by IV can penetrate to DIPG tissue enough to have an effect. The trial arose from work conducted in our lab as part of The Morgan Adams Foundation Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program and is currently expanding to other hospitals. The trial will help us decide whether we should continue to investigate new medicines delivered by these routes or focus on delivering chemotherapy directly to the tumor. I am confident we’ll be able to answer this question.
Dr. Green and his colleagues will present findings from this clinical trial at the International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology, taking place this July in Denver.


MAF Families and Supporters Invited to Attend ISPNO 2018 Family Day

Monday, April 16, 2018
On June 29th, The Morgan Adams Foundationand other organizations will host Family Day on the University of Colorado AnschutzMedical Campus in Denver.
ISPNO Family Day will include a full day of programs specifically created for families of Central Nervous System tumor patients and will cover a wide range of topics, including research updates, education issues, nutrition and wellness, caregiving, and creating a family’s “new normal.” A special, specific track for adolescents/young adults battling cancer will be offered, and there will also be a special breakout session for grieving families. The day’s sessions will be followed by a cocktail hour and dinner.
Family Day is free for our cancer families - however PLEASE DO REGISTER so we can have an accurate head count for lunch and snacks! We hope to see you there.
For additional information AND TO REGISTER, please visit

2018 Funding 625k to Support 11 Research Projects

Monday, April 09, 2018

Doctors and Researchers of The Morgan Adams Foundation Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program

The Morgan Adams Foundation Board of Directors has granted $625,000 to fund 11 research projects and equipment in The Morgan Adams Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2018. This brings the total amount of research dollars we’ve funded since our inception in 2001 to more than $4.7 million dollars.

“The crucial support from Morgan Adams continues to fund all those high-risk, high-reward studies that would otherwise not be possible,” said Rajeev Vibhakar, MD, PhD and Program Leader of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. “It is these studies that often lead to novel, groundbreaking research projects and subsequent therapeutic interventions.” (Below is a summary of the research projects funded in 2018. We’ll tell you more about these projects and the equipment in upcoming newsletters.)


The RNASeq transition: Creation of a pediatric brain tumor RNAseq reference database (year 2 of 2)
Andrew Donson, Nick Foreman, Rajeev Vibhakar
Through 15 years of using gene chip technology (“chipping”) to analyze tissues of brain tumor samples, The Morgan Adams lab now houses one of the largest pediatric brain tumor gene expression databases in existence. This resource has been an essential reference set for state-of-the-art diagnosis, allowing researchers to assign children’s brain tumors into newly described and clinically relevant pediatric brain tumor subgroups. RNA sequencing provides amplified data, giving researchers the unprecedented opportunity to identify the DNA mutations underlying tumor growth. Identification of tumor mutations will allow more definitive identification of tumor types so that more effective chemotherapy can be selected to specifically target these tumors.
Chipping “in the round.” Extension of tumor characterization to include mutational and fusion data on all new patients
Nick Foreman, Andrew Donson, Rajeev Vibhakar
Researchers will use RNA sequencing to analyze new tumors, as well as tumor samples from the last 30 years. This project will extend the analysis to identifying whether tumors result from gene mutations or fusions of existing genes. This improved characterization of tumor samples provides additional information to help determine the best treatment for each tumor.
High throughput next-gen sequencing and analysis of CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene knockout system
Sujatha Venkataraman, Rajeev Vibhakar
This project will perform sequencing and analysis of different brain tumor cells based on CRISPR/Cas9 platforms from two companies. CRISPR/Cas9 is a technology that enables researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding, or altering sections of the DNA sequence. (Paid for by The Adam Crocker Fund for Cancer Research.)
Lab model to investigate nanoparticle-mediated brain drug delivery (year 3 of 3)
Krishna Madhavan, Rajeev Vibhakar
Many of the drugs used in chemotherapy to treat brain tumors perform very well in the laboratory settings, but they fail to cross the blood-to-brain barrier in direct clinical applications, meaning the chemotherapy doesn’t reach the tumor. This project will study the delivery of drugs using gold nanoparticles into brain tumor cells in lab models to evaluate the effectiveness of delivery routes and the drug dosage required to be effective.
Pre-clinical modeling of drug efficacy in pediatric brain tumors
Angela Pierce, Rajeev Vibhakar
Development of novel drugs to treat pediatric brain tumors is often complicated by a lack of robust pre-clinical data and lab modeling of drugs. This frequently results in phase 1 clinical trials that fail. To avoid situations like this, we have established pre-clinical models of a range of brain tumors (funded by MAF in 2015) and we can test multiple drugs using this platform. These studies will leverage data from all MAF-funded research from the past 7 years to test novel therapeutics and combinations.
High-throughput drug screening in pediatric brain tumors for rapid clinical translation
Andrew Donson, Nick Foreman, Katie Dorris
This project will systematically test more than 100 FDA-approved oncology drugs on all pediatric tumor types, using an established process that allows testing to be done quickly, using tumor samples obtained from Children’s Hospital Colorado patients. Previous analysis by researchers led to the identification of novel therapeutic approaches for a patient with an Ependymal tumor.
By specifically testing FDA-approved compounds that already have known treatment effects in adults and often children, the results of testing can be rapidly applied to patients without the need for time-consuming drug development and safety testing.
Disease progression model for H3K27M-mutant DIPG: Determining downstream effects of effective treatment
Sujatha Venkataraman, Adam Green
Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are aggressive tumors at the base of the brain that typically are untreatable. In the past several years, major sequencing projects have found most of these tumors harbor a mutation in histone 3 called H3K27M, which is unique in human disease. Histones are proteins around which DNA folds and mutations in these proteins have major implications for which genes are turned on and off. We believe that a better understanding of the H3K27M mutation’s effects will allow us to target DIPG treatments against the combination of genetic changes truly driving the tumor.
The oncogenic role of the SEC in H3K27M-mutant DIPG
Nathan Dahl, Rajeev Vibhakar
This project seeks to understand secondary factors, in addition to mutations in the histone 3 gene (H3K27M), that lead to growth of the DIPG tumor. Completion of this project will bring new understanding of the mechanisms by which H3K27M mutations drive the formation of DIPGs and lay the groundwork for a novel therapeutic approach in treating these tumors.
Use of pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to model DIPG cell formation and radio-resistance
Sujatha Venkataraman, Rajeev Vibhakar
This project will use stem cells to create lab models of DIPG tumors and better understand the biology of this tumor, including how tumor cells form and how they develop resistance after radiation. Understanding the biology of a tumor is the best way to target the tumor effectively. This will ultimately result in new therapies for DIPG patients.
Analysis of paired BRAF V600E mutant glioma patient samples to identify novel resistance mechanisms to targeted BRAF inhibition
Jean Mulcahy-Levy, Theodore Nicolaides
(University of California San Francisco)
BRAF V600E mutations occur in a variety of gliomas, and the development of targeted therapies has provided a new treatment option for some patients. However, research shows that these mutations are likely to develop a resistance to these therapies. This project seeks to identify molecular and pathway alterations driving resistance to BRAF V600E inhibitors in central nervous system tumors. This will provide tools to identify patients who will need additional therapies to treat their tumors.
Oncogenesis caused by loss of SMARCB1 tumor suppressor is dependent on the activity of SIRT2
Rajeev Vibhakar
This project seeks to determine the molecular mechanisms by which the SIRT2 gene drives atypical teratoid/rhabdoid (AT/RT) tumor progression and to provide pre-clinical validation that using the drug TM is a worthwhile therapeutic approach. It is expected that this will then progress to a phase 1 clinical trial for treating AT/RT patients.

Thank You for Making the 2nd Annual ZCC a BIG Success

Thursday, April 05, 2018

(c) A Fine Photographer, 2018

I want to thank every volunteer, restaurant, brewery and distillery for donating their TIME and talents to the 2nd Annual Zach's Chili Challenge! It's because of people like yourselves that The Morgan Adams Foundation continues to be a driving force in raising money for research in the fight against pediatric cancer. As a cancer mom time is invaluable, your time at these events, gives parents faith and hope that new treatments with fewer side effects can cure their child. We are so grateful for your help and look forward to your support in the future.

Tim & Catherine Canaday

Denver to Host 18th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology

Monday, April 02, 2018

The 18th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology – a unique forum that brings together leading researchers, physicians, surgeons, nurses, and social workers to exchange information and results and collaborate – is coming to Denver this summer. ISPNO is the major global meeting of the international community of professionals involved in the scientific research, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of infants, children, and young people with central nervous system (CNS) tumors.

This is the first time the symposium will be held in the U.S. since 2008. Denver being named as a host site marks another recognition of the groundbreaking research being conducted at the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“The fact that this international, highly regarded conference is being held in Denver speaks directly to the leading edge research being conducted at Children’s Hospital Colorado, research that would not have been possible without The Morgan Adams Foundation,” said Nick Foreman, MD, ISPNO conference co-chair and Associate Chief of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “The Symposium is critically important for researchers around the world. It provides a forum for the thoughtful exchange of information and many opportunities to further collaborative efforts, both of which will lead to more promising studies that we can use to help our patients.”

The Sympoisum will take place from June 30 to July 3 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Denver. It will include plenary and poster sessions, keynote talks, and roundtable discussions about the latest research and clinical care of pediatric CNS tumors.

More than 1,500 pediatric neuro-oncology specialists from around the world will come to Denver to engage in dialogue regarding new treatments, innovative research, and advances in pediatric neuro-oncology. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Please email if you are able to help!
For more information, please visit



Newsletter March 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Read our March 2018 Newsletter HERE.

My miracle - experimental chemo

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In 2005, I was given a rare, stage 4, metastatic cancer diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma that would forever change my path in life. I was told that this cancer had no treatment plan and therefore my roadmap was determined by entering my age, gender, type of cancer and stage of progression into a computer model that would develop a random treatment. The 42 weeks of chemotherapy, along with the highest radiation possible, would devastate my body. My doctors told me I would most likely not see my 16th birthday. There were times that I didn’t think I could go on and simply wanted to give up. I was only 15. 

Cancer took from me my only chance to be a real teenager. But cancer will do that. It will make you fight whether you're ready or not. I remember fearing that I would never get my driver’s license, walk across a stage to receive my high school diploma, fall in love, or ever just be healthy again.

By January of 2007, I had finished my last day of chemo, radiation was over, and my scans were clear! I don't think I had ever felt such happiness like I did that day. I had seen my last outpatient room with the ugliest curtains I ever laid eyes on, thanked my angel of a nurse, Donna, for taking such great care of me and for always providing me with my favorite "after chemo" cocktail of Ativan and Dilaudid, then headed home.

That happiness lasted a bittersweet six months. The morning of my Mom's birthday, I woke up from a vivid nightmare that the cancer was back. And it was. So, I embarked on yet another course of experimental treatment. Round two was another 50-week roadmap of different chemos that would end up taking almost 2 years to complete and another six weeks of radiation. Radiation that I would fail to complete due to the devastation to my body. The following years were darker than I ever thought imaginable. There were daily clinic visits, some emergency surgeries, nearly weekly trips to the ER, and too many blood transfusions to count.

At two points in my treatment, we were told the cancer wasn’t responding, and at 17 years old, I found myself planning how and where I'd like to spend my last days. My doctors told me I’d feel no more pain and that I didn’t have to fight anymore. If there ever was a time to start believing in miracles, that was it. After repeated scans, it wasn’t what they thought. What had appeared to be new tumors in my lungs turned out instead to be tiny pockets of fluid. There was my miracle. The experimental treatment had been working. Experimental chemotherapy that saved my life and gave me the gift of many more tomorrows. During those years, my body had been through changes that I would never wish on anyone, especially not a child.

I recently celebrated my 28th birthday. I wasn’t supposed to have that gift. Not a day goes by that I don’t love and appreciate this life. My hope is that every child will have that same opportunity for life-saving treatment. Research is what saved my life. That’s what led my doctors to the experimental therapy and to my miracle.

Please give generously to The Morgan Adams Foundation, so they can fund research to help more kids with cancer. Donate online at

Thank you,

Morgan McKillop

You can help kids with cancer RIGHT NOW

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Our young friend Cooper knew research was being done on rare types of kids' brain tumors. He knew that research took money. So when doctors explained last April that his hope for remission was gone, the bright 12-year-old had an idea: he would use his life savings to find a cure.

If only it were that simple. If only the dollars Cooper had saved for college could have made that happen. If only diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, weren't the deadly pediatric brain cancer it is. If only the answers had been found before it claimed his life.

After Cooper passed, Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD - one of the researchers working closely with The Morgan Adams Foundation (MAF) - told his parents that targeting DIPG is her "only mission and focus in life." "I lost my own small son Rishi to cancer," Venkataraman reflects. "Kids should not go through these sufferings. DIPG is under-researched and it is always fatal. We are working hard to find a way to improve outcomes for these children."

Childhood cancer is scary. Some types remain 100% fatal. But there is hope.

Last year, Sujatha and Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar received a $20,000 MAF grant to identify drug therapies that may slow DIPG tumor growth. This research has yielded important data and resulted in more grants - totaling $500,000 - from the federal government and other organizations, and that means a new possibility of hope for kids like Cooper.

You have made this possible.Your gift starts the process of getting good ideas out of the lab and into tangible treatment options for kids and teenagers.

Your continuing support will help doctors and researchers pursue every possible new treatment avenue for kids with cancer. The hope you give these kids will be leveraged many times over. I invite you to join me in continuing our work to create a brighter future for kids and teens battling cancer.

With much gratitude,


Founder and Executive Director

Remembering Trevor

Trevor Kling was very involved as a Morgan Adams Foundation Ambassador. A shining light among us, this 14-year-old Honor Roll student missed only one day of school while enduring 36 radiation treatments and 14 months of chemotherapy. He passed in October, more than two years after his diagnosis with anaplastic astrocytoma grade III.

Trevor's dad Dave shares, "When his mom Cheryl and I explained to Trevor that he was dying, he told us he still wanted to fight for other kids. He knew being an Ambassador would help make more money to fund more research, even if it couldn't help him. So, we're going to continue that, because it will make a difference for someone 10 years down the road."

The outlook for kids with Trevor's type of cancer has changed little. Your gift can help move the needle on the translational research needed to change the survival rates for kids battling highly aggressive brain tumors.

Please give generously.

By shining laser light on cancer cells, researchers at The Morgan Adams Foundation Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program are able to track the effect of promising cancer drugs. "We use a variety of lasers, not for making things happen, but for detecting what is happening in our cancer cells," explains pediatric hematologist-oncologist Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar. "With our imaging flow cytometer, we can detect individual cells, which allows us to learn more from very small samples. The cells are treated with dyes, so that - depending on the laser we shine on them - the light reflected is different. This allows us to tell if the cell is dying - a process called apoptosis - or alive."

Anti-cancer drugs trigger apoptosis in cells that are diseased. Dr. Vibhakar says, "A lot of the research funded by The Morgan Adams Foundation focuses on drugs currently available for the adult population. We want to find new 'targets' for these existing drugs in the pediatric population." When you support this work, your gift helps us fund ways to get new treatments to kids with cancer faster than the decade or more required for most drug development.

Through your gift, you can help make this happen. In this lab. At this time. Thank you for shining a light on new treatment possibilities for kids with cancer.

"This program is the cutting edge."


A neuro-oncology program led by world-class researchers, Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar and Dr. Nick Foreman. A lab producing and documenting breakthrough results. And a promise to stay on the leading edge of finding a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Those energies merged in September at the naming of The Morgan Adams Foundation Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Program. Board Chair John Dudasch recalled his daughter's fight: Avery died at the age of 11 after an 11-month battle with a diffuse high grade glioma. He noted, "These aren't just nameless kids we are asking you to work for. Cancer strikes everywhere. You can help us make a difference."

Please join the Dudasch family in supporting the vital work being done in this dedicated lab. Every gift will be multiplied - in research, results, kids healing, and our infinite hope for a cure.