Dr. Craig Byersdorfer, a pediatric oncologist at C.S Mott’s Children’s Hospital, accepted a $250,000 research grant to fund pediatric cancer research from Hyundai Motors America, and Hyundai dealerships in Southeastern Michigan, at a ceremony at the hospital Friday.
Byersdorfer research focuses on making bone-marrow transplantations a safer and more feasible option for patients who have cancer.
Several former standout athletes at the University attended or spoke at the event — including Charles Woodson, who won the Heisman Trophy during his time at the University. Woodson spoke in a pre-recorded video, along with John Krafcik, CEO and President of the Hyundai Motors Company.
Hyundai has been increasingly supportive of cancer research since an initial gift of $50,000 five years ago. This is the second check of $250,000 Hyundai has given for research this year.
Speaking at the event, Byersdorfer said that the environment at the University combined with philanthropic contributions have helped advance his research.
But he said he derives his motivation to research from two factors — the loss of his mother to cancer and his frequent meetings with families who have children with cancer.
“(Cancer research) became a very personal story for me to give something back,” said Byersdorfer.
Valerie Castle, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, said philanthropic donations were crucial to supporting scientific research and development.
“We depend on your philanthropy, we depend on your support,” she said. “And your support makes it possible for Craig Byersdorfer to have a successful career working to take care of children.”
Krafcik said Hyundai donating toward cancer research has helped tie together his company.
“It is our sole philanthropic focus,” Krafcik said.
Catherine Dyer, whose son Michael was a patient of Byersdorfer’s after being diagnosed with stage IV hepatoblastoma, also spoke at the event. Her son had a five percent chance of survival, but four years later is in remission.
“Every time we went, we got to see an improvement in (Michael),” Dyer said. “And Craig was really good about explaining what the CT was, what the MRI was, what they were expecting and how they saw that change in him. We were sad to see him not be our doctor anymore but we were so glad to hear the kind of research that he was going to do for future patients.”