Latest News and Events

2020 RIS Research Grants Awarded to Mayo Clinic and Children’s Minnesota

Rein in Sarcoma has awarded $40,000 in new sarcoma research grants to Children’s Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. The grants were announced during the recent virtual Fall Fundraiser. The RIS Research Committee reviews the top proposals brought forward by each institution's evaluation committee, and in turn recommends final awards to the RIS Board of Directors for approval.

Dr Kris Ann Schultz - Children's MN

Dr Kris Ann Schultz

Children's Minnesota

Rein in Sarcoma awarded Children's Minnesota a grant of $15,000 for “DICER1-related Genitourinary Sarcomas”

Principal Investigators: Kris Ann P. Schultz, MD, pediatric oncologist

Lay Summary:
DICER1-related sarcomas include pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB), renal sarcoma, ovarian, cervical and uterine sarcoma, and a newly-described tumor type, PPB-like peritoneal sarcoma which may arise from peritoneal structures. We have preliminary data suggesting that in PPB, quantitation of circulating tumor DNA bearing DICER1 “hotspot” mutations may provide a way to measure tumor burden and provide a strategy for early diagnosis, especially for children with recurrent disease. In this proposal, we will leverage our prior Rein in Sarcoma funding and R01-funded existing PPB-related research activities and extend these to include additional DICER1-related sarcomas. Development of this additional collated data source is the next necessary step toward our goal of validating ctDNA for clinical use in children and young adults with DICER1-related sarcomas.

Fabrice Lucien-Matteoni, PhD

Fabrice Lucien-Matteoni, PhD

Mayo Clinic

Rein in Sarcoma is awarding Mayo Clinic a grant of $25,000 for “Targeting the Immune Checkpoint B7-H3 for the Treatment of Rhabdomyosarcoma”

Principal Investigator: Dr. Fabrice Lucien-Matteoni, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in Urology
Co-Investigators: Dr. Haidong Dong, MD, PhD, Professor of Immunology, a world-renowned immunologist and Dr. Akilesh Pandey, PhD, Professor in Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Director of the Proteomic

Lay Summary:
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue tumor in children, with nearly 20% of children presenting with locally aggressive and/or metastatic disease. A fundamental problem with this disease is the lack of effective and tolerable therapeutic regimens. Current protocols including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are extremely toxic and may lead to multiple deleterious long-term effects. Moreover, a significant percentage of patients tends to relapse and for those patients, life-expectancy is less than 5 years.

Our group is dedicated to help develop more effective and more tolerable treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma. In the past year, we have screened for proteins enriched in RMS tumors compared to normal muscle in the intent to identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of RMS. We have discovered the molecule B7-H3 as an important mediator of tumor progression. B7-H3 protects tumor cells from being attacked by immune cells. We have found that loss of B7-H3 expression leads to tumor regression through an effective antitumor immune attack. In this proposal, we intend to understand how B7-H3 protects RMS tumors from the immune system. Additionally, we will initiate the development of an antibody-based therapy that inhibits B7-H3 function and boosts anticancer immune response. This work will lay the foundation for the immediate clinical utility of developing clinical trials to assess the efficacy of B7-H3 blockade for the treatment of refractory and relapsed RMS.

These grants are made in addition to research grants to the University of Minnesota made in January of this year.

Sunflower Gardens of Hope: Planting Community Strength

Sarcoma Garden of Hope

Last spring we had a call from Rein in Sarcoma community supporter, Katherine. She had the brilliant idea to keep us all connected by planting sunflowers at our homes and apartments. She was inspired by the Victory Gardens of WW II, and Sunflower Garden of Hope activity area at Rein in Sarcoma’s Party in the Park. 

Did you get a packet of sunflower seeds? If you haven’t already submitted pictures of the resulting blooms, please take a photo or two and share them using #SarcomaSunflowers. You can also send your photographs to us at and we’ll post them on the Rein in Sarcoma Facebook Page and in a Flickr photo album. This way, we can tend our community garden and stay Stronger Together, keeping all of us turning to the sun and each other for continued hope and strength.

Check out the images contributed so far:

#StrongerTogether #RIS2020

Jan Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars Make an Impact

2019-20 RIS Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars

2019-20 RIS Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars (l-r): Regina Martinez, Nicholas Reiners, Ryan Claxton, June Zolfaghari, Jake Kloeber

As the new academic year begins, we thank the outgoing Jan Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars for their work and dedication to advancing sarcoma education and awareness and improving sarcoma patient outcomes.

A synopsis of their projects:

June Zolfaghari developed a slide presentation for the University of Minnesota Medical School Radiology-Sarcoma Curriculum. “Identifying Osteosarcomas on Radiographs” is a beneficial resource for students. To view it – once you are on the website, type “sarcoma” in the keyword search.

Regina Martinez completed a Spanish translation of the RIS organization and Red Flags brochures. Regina partnered with Valeria Lopez, RIS board member to translate the RIS brochures into Spanish and modify portions to maximize cultural sensitivity and community engagement. She also initiated a small consulting group with Dr. Miguel Fiol and the UMN Latino Medical Student Association. Initially they thought of ways to disseminate these materials virtually, but are now exploring other avenues to engage the local Latino community in a more accessible manner. This summer, Regina provided sarcoma education and resources at a pop up health care clinic in Power Horn Park, Minneapolis, MN.

Distributing Spanish Sarcoma Brochures

Regina and colleague distributing RIS Spanish language brochures.

Spanish language RIS Brochures

Spanish language Red Flags and RIS organization brochures

Nicholas Reiners worked on Electronic Medical Records Best Practice Alerts (EMR BPA) development and live implementation with testing in five primary care clinics. Nick will be presenting the findings of the EMR BPA to a national audience at the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS) in November 2020. This is the cumulative work of the past five years of several Jan Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars working under the guidance of Dr. Randy Hurley of Regions Hospital, HealthPartners medical system. The diagnostic tool helps guide primary physicians to consider sarcoma cancer when patients present with soft tissue masses. The ultimate goal is more timely, accurate diagnosis of sarcoma tumors, resulting in improved outcomes for patients. We hope that this tool can be expanding regionally to other EPIC medical records users in Minnesota, and eventually expanded nationally.


At the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, scholars Jake Kloeber and Ryan Claxton worked to provide opportunities to expose Mayo medical students to sarcoma-centered education. Together, they coordinated several opportunities for students to interact with and learn from sarcoma cancer physicians. They organized a week long experience for first year medical students to observe physicians in different oncology related fields. As a part of this, students spent their week learning from several medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists who work in sarcoma care at Mayo Clinic. Another project brought a bone and soft tissue pathologist to speak to medical students about pathology and the role it plays in sarcoma diagnosis and treatment. These educational opportunities help to raise awareness of sarcoma cancers with medical students and potentially inspire students to incorporate sarcoma care into their future practice.

Jake is interested in assessing the impact of these education. He constructed a survey to assess medical student exposure to sarcoma care during their training. The purpose is to determine how students rank the quantity and quality of their exposure to sarcoma-centered patient care and information. He will be distributing this survey to students at Mayo’s medical school. Jake hopes that these contributions will help to improve sarcoma education and will help direct efforts to educate future healthcare providers. We will follow up with findings as they become available.

As primary author, Ryan presented the two scientific the journal articles sited below.

“Utility of the Free Vascularized Fibula Flap to Reconstruct Oncologic Defects in the Upper Extremity” Anticancer Research” V 40: 2751-2755 (2020)

 “Extraskeletal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma: A High Incidence of Metastatic Disease to Lymph Nodes” at COA/CORS/CORA

We are proud of each of the 2019 – 2020 program participants and thankful to their mentors, Dr. Katie Dusenbery (UMN) and Dr. Scott Okuno (Mayo Clinic). We also thank Jan and Tim Maudlin for their sponsorship of the scholars through the Jan Maudlin Sarcoma Scholar Named Fund. Their work together advances sarcoma education, timely diagnoses, and improved patient outcomes. We know each of our scholars will continue to provide strong sarcoma leadership and support education throughout their careers. Thank you for serving our mission and outreach so well!

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