Family fuels research

A BIG STEP Libby Kranz, left, with children Jonathan, Nicholas, Charlotte, and Bridgette along with a picture of their late sister, Jennifer.

Thanks in part to contributions from Unravel Pediatric Cancer, a Gilroy non-profit organization founded by Libby and Tony Kranz, researchers at Stanford have made what could be a potential breakthrough against the brain cancer that claimed the Kranz’ daughter, Jennifer.

Stanford researchers Dr. Michelle Monje and Dr. Crystal Mackall published research in Nature Medicine claiming the first eradication of a severe brainstem tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma in mice, with human trials coming soon.

Drs. Monje and Mackall’s research was aided by financial contributions from Unravel Pediatric Cancer, along with the donated brain tumor from six-year-old Jennifer Kranz, who died from the disease in 2014.

“We couldn’t save our daughter, but we can help the last piece of her save other kids,” said Libby Kranz. “Our foundation’s unrestricted funding model is allowing Dr. Monje to do just that.”

While not all donated tumors are viable candidates to be used in research, researchers were able to use Jennifer’s donated tumor to help further their research.

“Unravel’s support of my DIPG research program has been critical to the progress we have made and hope to continue,” Dr. Monje said. “Together, we are moving closer to our goal of an effective therapy for children with DIPG.”

Unravel Pediatric Cancer advocates unrestricted funding, meaning that researchers are free to use grants given by Unravel as they see fit.

“What makes us different is what we fund and how we fund it,” Kranz explained. “We fund innovative things. We support new ideas. We find new researchers who have new ways to fight cancer. We have unrestricted funding, and if we want to fund something specific, we don’t tie the researcher’s hands. If they have good enough research, we just give them the money, and they communicate with us. If it doesn’t work, they are not handcuffed by us.”

Unravel Pediatric Cancer will host its Third Annual 5k Family Fun Run on Sunday, June 3, from 9am to 12pm at Gilroy Sports Park. Anyone who registers before May 13 will get a free t-shirt. More information is available at