I'm excited to announce that our laboratory is moving to the Oregon Health & Science University where my team and I will be building and leading a Pediatric Cancer Biology program as well as a robust Preclinical Testing Program for childhood cancers. Whether to move a laboratory requires careful consideration, as described by Joe Simone in his 'Maxims'. Some key aspects in pursuing this opportunity for our lab are:
- an existing COG Pediatric Oncology Phase I program, so that we can more easily move new treatments from the laboratory bench to the clinic,
- Strong leadership in the Department of Pediatrics by Chairman and pediatric oncologist, Dr. Stacy Nicholson,
- Clinical trials expertise including Pediatric Hematology Oncology division chief, Dr. Linda Stork, and Phase I program PI, Dr. Suman Malempati (who currently conducts a COG clinical trial of an Igfr-1 inhibitor for rhabdomyosarcoma),
- An exceptional stem cell biology community with the Oregon Stem Cell Center to complement our interest in muscle and tumor stem cells,
- Field-leading expertise in gene therapy, including the research of Pape' Family Pediatric Research Institute Director, Dr. Markus Grompe, and fellow pediatric oncologist faculty member, Peter Kurre,
- A tradition of excellence in Neuroscience, complementing our interests in medulloblastoma, through the Vollum Institute led by Dr. Richard Goodman,
- a strong Division of Biomedical Engineering to enhance our multi-disciplinary approach to cancer research,
- opportunity to partner with the community in growing the pediatric cancer biology program faculty through collaboration with The Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation,
- the opportunity to collaborate with 2009 Lasker-Debakey Prize awardee, Dr. Brian Druker. Brian and colleagues pioneered the use of Imatinib (Gleevec, or STI571) as a targeted molecular therapeutic for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). This precedent of finding a non-chemotherapy treatment for CML is one that we would very much like to repeat for childhood cancers. Such an approach would make a lot of sense, because growth factor receptors known to be active in many childhood cancers belong to the classes of kinases for which many new drugs are being developed for adult cancer. We have already had very productive collaborations with our colleagues Drs. Jason Glover, Jeff Tyner and Mark Loriaux in the Druker laboratory that will lead to co-authored studies this Spring.
We look forward to being a part of the OHSU community, and forging new ground in the discovery of novel and more effective treatments for childhood cancer.
"Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible", St. Francis of Assisi
[ above right: Mt Hood and Downtown Portland. photo credit, USGS ]