“Mommy, cancer is not hard.”

– Faris D.

Our commitment to childhood cancer research is unique and deeply personal. Our Chief Angel Officer’s words give us clarity on the research we support. We fund original and transformative research in areas where there is high need and a high potential for impact.

Our Core Principles & Priorities

Progress in the understanding and treatment of childhood cancer is only possible through a steadfast commitment to research.

To advance breakthroughs in childhood cancers where outcomes have not changed in decades, we support new paradigms in research and treatment.

Our APPROACH

We carefully vet and fund research – as if our child’s life depends on it. 

We provide accessible opportunities for the public to interface with and understand the research that we invest in.

Projects, Partners, and Grantees

The Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center
What makes the FDV Center unique?

The world’s only comprehensive research center dedicated to Ewing sarcoma

24-hour access line for anyone affected by Ewing sarcoma

Undergraduate internship program

Lab tours and meet-the-researchers

The Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center at Texas Children’s Cancer Center (an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center) was established in 2014 with a little over $1,000 in seed funding from Faris’ personal piggy bank, and is the world’s only comprehensive research center dedicated to Ewing sarcoma. Part of the Solid Tumor Programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the FDV Center is dedicated to advancing the research and treatment of Ewing sarcoma, the second most common bone tumor in children, as well as other sarcomas. A global leader in research and clinical care, the Center also hosts international symposia, an undergraduate internship program, a youth ambassador program, and is home to world’s only round-the-clock access line for anyone affected by Ewing sarcoma.

The Faris Foundation Immunotherapy Scholar Award (2019-2021)

A grant of $300,000 over two years, awarded to Dr. Sujith K. Joseph (Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Childrens Cancer Center), for his project “Developing Sarcoma-specific T-cell Platform for Grafting Chimeric Antigen Receptors.”

Research Summary:
Sarcoma is an aggressive childhood cancer affecting bones and soft tissues. Clinical success remains limited for children whose cancer has spread. Immunotherapy uses patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. We introduce an artificial molecule called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on immune cells. The CAR introduced T cells can identify and kill cancer cells in a targeted manner. 

CAR T cells have shown benefit to patients in early clinical testing. A clinical trial at our center tests for the safety of this CAR T cells targeting HER2 protein. In this trial, a child with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, achieved complete cure. We observed activation of the patient’s own immune system following CAR T cell treatment. Furthermore, we identified various tumor proteins targeted by the patient’s own immune system. These proteins participated in uncontrolled cell growth, cancer spread and cell invasion. Some of these proteins had expression limited to or elevated on cancer cells. We are validating these proteins as sarcoma targets with immune potential. Once validated, we will develop sarcoma-specific T cells for cancer therapy.

In The News
April 9, 2019 – Dr. Sujith Joseph, Senior Staff Scientist, and Dr. Meenakshi Hegde, Assistant Professor, both members of the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center have been awarded the Faris D. Virani Immunotherapy Scholar Award of $300,000 over two years, by The Faris Foundation. 

Press Release

The Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center
A Message from Dr. Jason Yustein, Director

Nearly 5 years ago we established the Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center at the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Our mission is to be a one of a kind comprehensive Center that personally engages and provides the highest quality clinical care, with the most effective therapeutic options to every newly diagnosed or relapsed Ewing sarcoma patient. Besides the individualized, personal care we provide for each of our Ewing sarcoma patients, we are dedicated towards performing state-of-the art research that is accelerating our insights into the biology of Ewing sarcoma and has led us towards the identification and testing of novel therapies for the treatment of this extremely aggressive disease. Presently, the Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center is made up of numerous physicians, physician-scientists, and all the essential supporting members critical to accomplishing the mission of the Center.

Two of our main research focus areas have been on understanding (1) mechanisms of resistance to therapies and (2) how the sarcoma cells travel to, or metastasize to other locations. Clinically, both of these conditions have extremely poor patient outcomes. We truly believe increasing our scientific knowledge into these key clinical entities is essential towards improving patient outcomes. Our research has led to numerous publications in top research journals where we have reported new avenues for therapeutic interventions, including targeting critical pathways needed for the growth and progression of Ewing sarcoma. This has led to the Center reaching out to and collaborating with pharmaceutical companies in order to actively obtain agents in clinical trials. Using our experience in modelling Ewing sarcoma metastasis we have been testing these agents, not previously investigated for Ewing sarcoma, for the treatment of this aggressive disease.

Besides the Virani Center’s active projects studying metastasis and mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, we are actively engaged with numerous colleagues across the Texas Medical Center and within the state of Texas. These include working with other investigators looking at testing additional novel agents as well as re-purposing, or use of previously identified therapies in novel combinations that can have significant benefit to patients, as well as scientists modelling and investigating the pathways in the cell needed for sarcoma initiation.

While the Virani Center is working closely with scientists in Houston, around the state and country, we have also taken the initiative to bring together the leading experts in the research and care of Ewing sarcoma patients. Since the establishment of the Virani Center, we have hosted two outstanding International Ewing Sarcoma symposiums, in 2015 and 2017, where physicians and scientists from across the U.S., Canada and Europe have come together to discuss and share their insights regarding the state of Ewing sarcoma care and research. The symposiums have allowed the direct interactions between these experts to identify deficient areas and begin collaborative efforts towards addressing these areas.

The Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center has become an internationally recognized center for providing outstanding clinical care and performing collaborative cutting-edge research. Our mission will not be complete until we can offer the necessary care and treatment options that will successfully eradicate this disease for all patients diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma.