Childhood cancer: On the front lines

Doctors Sigrid A. (left) and Ayyappan K. Rajasekaran, with the Nemours Center for Childhood Cancer Research in Wilmington (he's the director) sit in a high tech lab with a new, unique high-resolution microscope (left) that studies cell surfaces. On the computer monitor are images of cells that are being studied/researched into how best to avoid cancer cell migration and metastasis. ( Clem Murray / Staff Photographer )

Ayyappan K. Rajasekaran and Sigrid Rajasekaran

Director of the year-old Nemours Center for Childhood Cancer Research at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Ayyappan envisions "a 100 percent cure rate." The key, he says, is developing the kind of "personalized" medicine that is improving adult-cancer treatment.

Ayyappan, a native of India, and his wife, Sigrid, from Germany, were doing adult-cancer research at UCLA when Nemours beckoned. The cell biologists studied growth factors involved in numerous adult cancers - research that won Sigrid a major grant that she will use to study childhood cancers.

Liz and Jay Scott

In the five years since Alex Scott died of neuroblastoma at age 8, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised $25 million, making it the second-biggest childhood-cancer philanthropy in the world.

Her parents, who work out of a modest office in Wynnewood, are much in demand as speakers. But Jay says the really inspiring people are the sick children and the foundation's 100,000 volunteers: "We get letters from people thanking us for letting them help us."

- Marie McCullough