With a goal to help researchers find a new treatment approach for children fighting cancer recurrence, cannabis industry pioneer Joe Caltabiano has made a transformative gift of $250,000 to Gateway for Cancer ResearchSM (Gateway), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding transformational early-phase cancer research.
A survivor of childhood cancer, Caltabiano was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, when he was just seven years old. He has cited the diagnosis as being one of the most profound moments of his life, as well as a motivating factor for his work in the cannabis industry. A Gateway Board member since 2016, Caltabiano has made finding a cure for cancer one of his life’s goals.
“Gateway Concierge allows visionary benefactors like Joe to channel their personal passion for fighting cancer into purpose by co-creating new possibilities in cancer care with world-class clinician-scientists. This funding will dramatically improve the lives of children undergoing treatment for leukemia,” said Jessica Cestone, Executive Director, Gateway Concierge. “For a project of this scale, collaboration is key to its success. The timing of Joe’s transformative gift allowed Gateway to sign on as one of the early funders of the trial to help accelerate the discovery of new and effective treatments that will provide lasting cures for children with blood cancer.”
Gateway utilized Caltabiano’s gift to provide a grant to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to support the Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Master Clinical, an international collaboration to expedite the development of new targeted treatments for childhood leukemias. All patients enrolling on the PedAL trial will receive genetic sequencing and biomarker screening to identify the individual molecular drivers of their disease. Each patient will then be matched to a sub-trial of targeted therapy that is the best match for their unique genetic information.
“Despite the challenges of my treatment and recovery, I actually view my childhood leukemia journey as one of the best things that ever happened to me because it gave me a unique perspective that helps guide my attitude to this day. It is hard to have a bad day once you have survived cancer,” Caltabiano said. “I want more kids going through cancer treatment to have the opportunity to feel this same way. Recovering from leukemia is really tough, especially when you are a child. The Gateway Concierge program provides such an incredible opportunity to make a real difference.”
Founded in 1991, Gateway is one of the only nonprofits solely dedicated to funding Phase I and II clinical trials for cancers of all types, urgently bringing breakthroughs to the bedside for courageous patients and their families. As a survivor of childhood cancer, Caltabiano understands all too well the urgent need to change the course of treatment for children with relapsed leukemia.
“For children with relapsed acute leukemia, there is no standard of care, and their prognosis is poor. As a childhood cancer survivor, I chose to invest in Gateway because of its targeted mission to fund early phase research, which is where cancer breakthroughs happen,” Caltabiano said. “It is an honor and privilege to be associated with Gateway and its important work.”
Caltabiano is a respected voice in today’s emergent cannabis industry and regularly provides guidance to startups and established companies alike. Caltabiano is founder of JSC Fund where he seeks to uncover and advance opportunities within the cannabis market. Prior to launching JSC Fund, Caltabiano co-founded Cresco Labs, one of North America’s largest vertically integrated cannabis operators. During his tenure, Caltabiano grew Cresco Labs from a startup to a Multi-state Operator with annualized revenue of over $250 million and operations spanning nine states.