In August 2020, Children’s Minnesota and Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund (PTACF) announced the establishment of the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic Endowed Chair in Cancer and Blood Disorders Research and the appointment of Dr. Kris Ann Schultz as the inaugural holder of the position. Children’s Minnesota has the largest pediatric cancer and blood disorders program in the Upper Midwest, caring for more than 58 percent of children diagnosed with cancer or blood disorders in Minnesota.
“Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund is proud to fund an Endowed Chair in Cancer and Blood Disorders Research at Children's Minnesota and could not be more excited by the appointment of Dr. Schultz for the Chair position,” said Kevin Werwie, President of Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund. “Dr. Schultz is a talented clinician, researcher, collaborator and leader and so deserving of this honor. This Endowed Chair ensures the targeted research we have supported through our Pine Tree donor community over the past 35 years continues for many years to come."
Dr. Schultz is the first Endowed Chair holder in the Cancer and Blood Disorders program of Children’s Minnesota. She is the Principal Investigator for the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma DICER1 Registry and the Principal Investigator and founder of the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor Registry. Both Registries are based at Children’s Minnesota. Pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) is a rare lung cancer that occurs in young children. Research from Children’s Minnesota and other collaborating institutions has shown that PPB is linked to changes in a gene called DICER1, which serves as a dimmer switch for cell proliferation. Dr. Schultz leads a global team to discover how to best treat the three main types of PPB and other DICER1-related cancers in children and adults with the goal of developing treatment plans tailored to the individual needs of patients. This work has also led to the development of surveillance guidelines with the ultimate goal of detecting DICER1-related cancers in their earliest and most curable form. Dr. Schultz is the principal investigator of an R01 grant funded by the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health focused on the role of circulating tumor DNA in management of PPB.
“Congratulations to Dr. Schultz on this distinguished honor which will provide consistent financial support for her research and transform the lives of our patients and patients around the world,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota. “We are grateful to Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund for their long-standing support. Their generosity helps accelerate Dr. Schultz’ research to pursue breakthrough treatments and care for patients.”
The Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic, organized by the Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund, was created in 1986 by Ron and Mary Ann Peterson when their 12-year-old daughter, Julieann, was diagnosed with leukemia. Julieann was treated at Children’s Minnesota and survived. Grateful for the care their daughter received at Children’s Minnesota, the Petersons established the mixed doubles tennis tournament with a mission to raise funds and support research to lessen the suffering caused by pediatric cancer. The Jacobson family of the Pine Tree Apple Orchard stepped in to provide the funds to establish the event. Since 1986, the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic has raised almost $6 million for childhood cancer research at Children’s Minnesota, and through these efforts, Children’s Minnesota has become internationally recognized for collaborative rare tumor and supportive care research which has increased survival rates and improved quality of life for children with cancer in Minnesota and around the world.
“This work has been a remarkable partnership between very inspiring kids with childhood cancer, their families who have so generously shared their journey and this amazing group of dedicated volunteers and donors,” said Dr. Schultz. “This partnership is the key to Pine Tree’s mission—to lessen the suffering caused by childhood cancer. I feel so honored and grateful to be a part of the amazing stories of these children and this remarkable organization. I also remain so inspired by this dedicated group of volunteers, tennis players and donors whose generosity and hard work has led to groundbreaking discoveries for children and adults with cancer including DICER1 related cancers. It’s exciting to think of the amazing advancements yet to come, thanks to this incredible partnership,” said Dr. Schultz.