The running joke in Alex Huang’s pediatric oncology immunotherapy lab is that, to become a member of the research team, you have to shave your head. While that’s not really the case, many do so anyway—for a good cause.

The researchers in Huang’s lab will “brave the shave” once again at the 2017 Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Shave It Off event Friday, March 10, for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

St. Baldrick’s raises money for childhood cancer research, helping to fill a void in federal funding. Money raised for St. Baldrick’s directly impacts the Huang lab as a source of research funding.

During the event, individuals from Case Western Reserve, University Hospitals and the community come together to shave their heads in support of children with cancer.

Huang, associate professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve, will participate for the ninth straight year, while senior research associates David Askew and Jay Myers will be making it eight years in a row.

Jay Myers and others get their heads shaved

For the lab, the annual Shave it Off event has become a group outing, with eight to 12 members joining forces each year—and many even have their families get involved.

Askew’s wife and oldest daughter, for instance, have participated. The son of one technician has participated many times in the past and this year organized a team of students from Mayfield High School.

The Huang Lab’s team has already raised more than $2,500 for this year’s event. Overall, more than $44,000 has been raised for 2017 Shave it Off.

For Askew, some of the inspiration to participate comes from his previous position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was a postdoctoral fellow.

“When I was working at St. Jude, the research facility was very close to the patient area, so that really hit it home every day,” he said. “When you see that much suffering in children, it’s really rough.”

Through their involvement with the fundraising efforts and research, members of the Huang lab are doing their part to help find cures.

Find out how you can get involved and donate to the cause at