The Phoenix Women’s Board of the Steele Children’s Research Center, affectionately known as PANDA, supports the advancement of medical knowledge to improve treatments and cures for devastating childhood diseases. The strong and unique partnership between the members of PANDA and the researchers and physicians at the Steele Center have made it possible for us to embody our name, People Acting Now Discover Answers.
Over the past 18 years, PANDA has raised more than $9 million for the Steele Center, whose mission is “to teach, to heal, to discover.” The Steele Center’s cutting-edge discoveries have propelled children’s medical research to a worldwide stage. The Steele Center has become a leader in pediatric research across the globe. PANDA is proud to have funded internationally recognized physician-scientists to investigate a range of pediatric illnesses including those involving cancer, autoimmune disorders, genetics, gastroenterology, and developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
This year, PANDA will focus our fundraising efforts on the Children’s Epilepsy Project. Epilepsy that first occurs in adults and older children is diagnosable and generally responds well to medication. Unfortunately, when epilepsy begins in infancy or in young children, it represents a set of complex disorders without specific etiologies, resulting in perplexing conditions causing a stressful life for the affected children and their parents. The etiology of infantile epilepsy is multi-factorial, including genetics, metabolic, and structural brain issues. This research project, in partnership with Rady Children’s Genomic Institute, will explore both the basic science and clinical aspects of epilepsy with an emphasis on children diagnosed as infants or at an early age. The Rady team will provide whole genome sequencing for children, and the Steele team will investigate genetic mutations and determine their functionality and how to treat them. The goal is to develop a new paradigm for treatment of these children through research including whole genome sequencing, and examination of structural brain disorders, and metabolic issues.