Sheila Santacroce Receives Funding For Two Childhood Cancer Studies

Beerstecher-Blackwell Distinguished Scholar Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP, FAANP, has received funding for two studies related to inflammation in children who have received cancer treatment.

For the first study, Dr. Santacroce received a $100,000 Discovery Award from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to study “Arterial stiffness in children who recently completed cancer therapy.” She is one of only five nurse researchers across the country who received a Discovery Award this year.

Dr. Santacroce plans to examine systemic inflammation and arterial stiffness in children ages 7-17 years-old for nine months after they have completed cancer therapy. Stiffened arteries require a greater amount of force to cause them to expand, forcing the heart to beat harder. Therefore, arterial stiffness can potentially indicate whether cancer treatment puts a child’s heart at risk. Dr. Santacroce also plans to explore whether the psychological and physiological responses kids have to cancer affects their risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Drs. Debra Barksdale and Jamie Crandell, from the SON and the School of Public Health respectfully, are co-investigators for the study.

For the second study, “Phenotype and genotype associations with symptom clusters,” Dr. Santacroce is a co-investigator and the UNC site coordinator. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Santacroce and her colleagues will be assessing biomarkers of inflammation in children ages 3-17 years-old who are receiving treatment for leukemia, a cancer that affects blood and/or bone marrow. The biomarkers will be assessed after the children receive their first round of chemotherapy, also known as the post-induction phase. The children and their parents will also be reporting any symptoms, such as cognitive changes or nausea, to the researchers.

The primary investigator for the study is Dr. Marilyn Hockenberry from Duke University School of Nursing. Other co-investigators and site coordinators include nurse researchers Dr. Sharron Docherty from Duke University; Dr. Ki Moore from the University of Arizona; Dr. Casey Hooke from the University of Minnesota; and biostatistician Dr. Micheal Scheuler from Baylor College of Medicine.