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Meet Scarlett James

Scarlett James was a fun-loving six-year-old when she was diagnosed at MSK with a pediatric cancer known as T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2013.

Pediatric oncologist and researcher Neerav Shukla, MD, was part of the MSK team that cared for Scarlett. He and his colleagues shepherded their young patient through chemotherapies that destroyed the cancer cells in her body—treatments so intense that Scarlett missed two years of school.

Today, Scarlett is cancer-free and thriving. She is back in school and, as an adolescent who loves horseback riding, back in the saddle. She and her brother Austin love playing with their Labrador Retriever, Cooper, a therapy dog. Scarlett’s parents saw an opportunity in their child’s journey to improve treatments by making them less toxic and more effective. They became interested in therapies that target the specifi c genetic mutations that cause cancer.

These ther apies are part of MSK’s burgeoning Pediatric Translational Medicine Program (PTMP), directed by Dr. Shukla and designed to move ideas and observations from the lab to the children who need them.

Scarlett’s mom, Jennifer James, created The Scarlett Fund to raise money for PTMP. She cast a wide net, reaching out to everyone she knew. Talent shows, galas, MSK fundraising events like Fred’s Team and Cycle for Survival—if there was a way to engage people, Jennifer brought them on board. Scarlett also invited friends to join her in Central Park for Kids Walk.

The Scarlett Fund blossomed, and it continues to grow. To date, it has raised more than $2.5 million for PTMP. It is funding a Fast-Track clinical trial that promises a better leukemia treatment. It represents the future.

The original thinking that advances cancer care is supported and sustained by the tent poles of research and philanthropy. Thanks to The Scarlett Fund and other thoughtful donors, MSK pediatric teams are accelerating progress so more children will survive cancer than ever before.