Caltagirone advocates for pediatric cancer research funding at House Democratic Policy Committee hearing

PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 1 – State Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, to discuss the dire need for pediatric cancer research funding.

Caltagirone requested the hearing because he has introduced a legislative package that would establish funding for pediatric cancer research at four critical pediatric research facilities in the Commonwealth, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, and the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

“As we speak, children are fighting for their lives in Reading, in Berks County and across Pennsylvania,” Caltagirone said. “To help them, and whenever we talk about curing pediatric cancer, we first need to think about funding. You cannot find a cure without funding the research. With new funding mechanisms nearly in place, I am hopeful that the state that cured polio can cure pediatric cancer."

“I want to thank Representative Caltagirone for hosting today’s hearing on increasing funding for pediatric cancer research. It’s important that we continue to advocate for children and their families and dedicate the resources needed to help doctors and researchers find a cure,” said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee.

Hearing testifiers included John Maris, MD, pediatric oncologist and chair of Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Valerie Brown, MD, PhD, director of experimental therapeutics in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Penn State Children’s Hospital; Carly Nemo Wilfong, childhood cancer survivor and advocate; Christopher Winters, president, National Children’s Cancer Consortium; and parents and childhood cancer warriors.

The House in April passed Caltagirone’s House Bill 46, which would establish a check-off box on Pennsylvania's state income tax form to allow taxpayers to designate an unlimited contribution for childhood cancer research through the establishment of the Pennsylvania Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. The donations, deducted from the taxpayers’ refunds, would go to a current list of four hospitals and institutions in Pennsylvania that are conducting childhood cancer research and designated by the secretary of the state Department of Health.

The bill moved from the Senate Finance Committee last week. Caltagirone said he is confident that Pennsylvanians will have the option to check the box on their 2018 state income tax forms.