Research Programs

Pediatric Oncology Research Program

Program Leader(s): John Maris, MD and Frank Balis, MD

The ultimate goal of the Pediatric Oncology Research Program is to improve the chances of cure for children with cancer while minimizing the adverse short- and long-term consequences of the disease and its treatment. Specific goals are to accomplish the following: 1) Molecular Pathogenesis: identify the genes (oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, etc), proteins and pathways responsible for the malignant transformation and progression of childhood cancers. 2) Translational Research: translate this information into improved genetic diagnosis, classification, prediction of outcome, and selection of therapy; and the preclinical development of biologically based therapies that target the genes, proteins and pathways critical to maintaining the malignant state using relevant animal models of pediatric cancers. 3) Clinical Trials and Experimental Therapeutics: conduct controlled, innovative institutional, cooperative group, consortium or industry-sponsored Phase I, II, and III clinical investigations of currently available diagnostic, therapeutic and supportive care modalities within the Cancer Center, in accordance with the most rigorous ethical and scientific standards. We are also committed to bring biologically based novel therapeutic agents into clincal trials rapidly and safely. 4) Cancer Control: reduce the physical, neuropsychological, social, and economic burdens of pediatric cancer through investigations on the etiology and prevention of childhood cancer, assessment of the complications of pediatric cancer and cancer treatment. We have disease-focused programs in neuroblastoma, neuro-oncology, hematopoietic neoplasia, and sarcomas that address many of these goals. The fourth goal of cancer control crosses multiple diagnoses and disciplines.r