Kate Amato Foundation awards $75K in grants for pediatric cancer research

Launches Kate’s Kindness Project in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.


The Kate Amato Foundation is continuing to honor Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September with two major announcements.

The foundation is awarding $75,000 to fund two groundbreaking pediatric cancer research projects. In addition, it has launched Kate’s Kindness Project, which provides immediate direct support to local children hospitalized with cancer.

Kate Amato, a Jacksonville Beach child who died in 2016 after a long battle with cancer, is the inspiration for the foundation. Kate’s bright smile, strength and grace captured the hearts of thousands of residents in the community and around the world.

Through her illness, Kate’s parents discovered how severely underfunded research is for pediatric cancer and witnessed first-hand the brutal effects of outdated, toxic treatments. To honor Kate’s life and continue the fight for other children, the Kate Amato Foundation was formed to find safer, smarter and more effective treatments for children with cancer.

Each year, the foundation grants funding to cutting-edge pediatric cancer research projects at some of the leading Immunotherapy and Cancer Genomics research labs in the country including: Duke University, Baylor College of Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School.

“Kate Amato Foundation is dedicated to supporting research to advance the next generation of pediatric cancer treatments that are more effective and less toxic than current approaches,” said Dr. Duane Mitchell, director of the University of Florida Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program, who serves on the foundation’s scientific advisory board.

These grants are predominantly funded by the signature events held each year: the KATE KUP Triples Tennis Tournament and the KATE KLASSIC Golf Tournament. Both were sidelined this year due to the pandemic.

Although COVID-19 has dramatically impacted fundraising efforts this year, Kate Amato Foundation has announced an award of $75,000 to fund two projects. The 2020 Kate Amato Foundation Grant recipients are:

  • Ken Morita, MD, PhD at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital whose project will investigate a novel, targeted drug compound that is nontoxic, highly potent and could potentially treat a variety of childhood cancers, including T-cell leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma and solid tumors.
  • Matthew Harlow, PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital whose project will investigate the cellular processes of metastasis to the lungs in order to develop novel drug compounds. This research is critical for the development of safer, targeted immunotherapies for children with metastatic osteosarcoma.

In addition to funding these research projects, the foundation is partnering with Once Upon a Room-Jacksonville to launch Kate’s Kindness Project. This initiative will provide direct support to local children and families fighting cancer during COVID-19.

“The support we have received is overwhelming, humbling and inspiring,” said Kate’s parents, Lisa and Jeff Amato. “The outpouring of love and support for Kate throughout her illness was breathtaking and the ongoing support to build her legacy by funding research to help future children is extraordinary. It shows just how kind and caring our community is.”

To donate to the Kate Amato Foundation or learn more, go to KateAmatoFoundation.org.