Children fighting cancer have new hope thanks to an endowment gift from Dick and Ethie Haworth to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation. Their major gift establishes the Haworth Family Pediatric Oncology Innovative Therapeutics Clinic at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

The gift will support an endowed directorship held by nationally recognized Giselle Sholler, MD, in addition to clinical care and research services including designated staff, clinical research functions and family support services. Dr. Sholler, a Spectrum Health Medical Group physician who practices at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, becomes the Haworth Endowed Director of Pediatric Oncology Innovative Therapeutics in addition to her research role at the Van Andel Institute.

“Generous gifts from the community are vital to the long-term success of a children’s hospital,” said Bob Connors, MD, president, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “We are grateful to the Haworth family for this wonderful contribution that enables this program and service development. We continue to grow world class programs right here in West Michigan.”

“We believe in the work of the children’s cancer program at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,” said Ethie Haworth. “We want to be an encouragement to Dr. Sholler in advancing the science and we look forward to learning about the results of this new initiative,” added Dick Haworth.

The Haworth Family Pediatric Oncology Innovative Therapeutics Clinic at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital will enable research and clinical care for children with neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is one of the deadliest forms of pediatric cancer and current treatment is often a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The new clinic will tackle neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers on three fronts with a “precision” approach.

Pediatric tumor samples will be analyzed with sophisticated gene analysis so that treatment can be designed specifically for each child. This type of advanced personalized medicine is only available at a handful of other hospitals in the nation. Information from samples will be examined, cataloged in a database and analyzed based on the uniqueness of each child’s cells. Information gathered through the project will help develop future treatment options for other children. Eventually the program can expand to help develop a Phase I clinical trials program in collaboration with the Van Andel Institute.

“This transformational gift from the Haworth family provides funding for vital services and infrastructure to take pediatric cancer treatment to an entirely new level,” said Jim Fahner, MD, division chief, pediatric hematology/oncology, Spectrum Health Medical Group and division chief, pediatric hematology/oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “We are poised on the brink of breakthroughs in cancer treatment. Our program can now have access to the best diagnostic and therapeutic insights of molecular mapping and targeted treatment available anywhere.”

Dick and Ethie Haworth have a long-standing commitment to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Ethie was one of the co-chairs leading the campaign to build the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. In addition to their personal generosity, Dick made a contribution of Haworth furniture which is used throughout the new hospital. Ethie has been involved with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital since 2004 through a special toy project she initiated to help bring joy and happiness to children as they battle illness and injury at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.