Pediatric cancer researcher to revamp the care journey for pediatric patients

Patient Care |

04/15/2024

Riley Coat 2024 08 1 1

Jennifer Belsky, DO, pediatric hematologist and director of Pediatric and AYA Lymphoma at Riley Children’s Health, determined to improve the care journey for patients needing cancer therapy treatment.

With a steadfast commitment to revamping the care journey for children with cancer, Jennifer Belsky, DO, pediatric hematologist and director of Pediatric and AYA Lymphoma at Riley Children’s Health, leads a three-year research study to analyze the detrimental side effects of children and teens when receiving cancer therapy treatment.

Under a $30,000 grant from The Heroes Foundation, an Indianapolis-based cancer organization, Dr. Belsky’s research focuses on addressing the debilitating impacts of chemotherapy and radiation, two cancer treatments that most often take an emotional toll on young patients and their families. Despite the success in targeting cancer cells and managing cancerous conditions, each round of these treatment therapies bring its own set of complications, affecting quality of life and the overall care experience for children.

“Throughout my career so far, the most frustrating part of treating patients is watching children suffer from the life-saving medicines that I am forced to give them,” Dr. Belsky said. “That is why this research is incredibly important.”

One of the most challenging side effects Dr. Belsky aims to tackle in her research is neuropathy, a condition characterized by nerve pain, numbness, muscle weakness and other symptoms. It is often a result of medications like Vincristine, a treatment commonly used for pediatric cancer.

Furthermore, Dr. Belsky and her research team will conduct blood samples and cognitive interviews to gain deeper insights into the impact of neuropathy on young patients. By understanding the mechanisms behind this side effect, Dr. Belsky hopes to pave the way for interventions that alleviate pain to further improve the cancer journey for pediatric patients.

The generous grant comes from support from The Heroes Foundation’s Team JOEY program, whose ongoing mission is to further the battle against pediatric cancer. Since 2016, the program has allocated $70,000 to various research studies to bolster promising results in the field of pediatric hematology and oncology. Ultimately, the grant gifted by Team JOEY will enable Dr. Belsky and her team to significantly advance their research efforts, offering hope and relief to families grappling with childhood cancer diagnoses.

In addition to her research initiative, Dr. Belsky is a pioneer in the pediatric hematology and oncology department at Riley Children’s, whose clinical focus is treating children and adolescent young adults with acute leukemias and lymphoma. Presently, Dr. Belsky is active in multiple clinical trials.

About pediatric hematology and oncology

Experts within the pediatric hematology and oncology program at Riley Children’s combine leading-edge medicine with personalized care to treat children with cancer and blood disorders. Program distinctions include:

  • Early access to clinical trials, novel cancer therapies and research through the Children’s Oncology Group Phase I and Pilot Consortium and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro Oncology Consortium
  • One of the few children’s hospitals in the nation with comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment programs for neurofibromatosis and vascular formations

Related Doctor

Jennifer A. Belsky, DO, MS

Jennifer A. Belsky, DO, MS

Hematology - Oncology