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About the Department of Pediatric Oncology

  • The research goals of the Department of Pediatric Oncology are to promote basic laboratory research, translational investigation, and clinical studies to better understand and treat childhood cancers. Under the leadership of Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD, research across the continuum from laboratory research to clinical trials is contributing to the improvement of care for children with cancer with a particular emphasis on the development of new therapeutic approaches. In this setting, the Department also provides an exceptional training environment for basic and clinical researchers.

    Clinical Research

    Through our combined program with Boston Children's Hospital — Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center — the Department is developing unique pediatric clinical trials to improve the treatment and care of children with cancer. The Department's clinical trials portfolio includes investigator-initiated, cooperative group, and company-sponsored trials for a variety of cancers at different stages of progression.

    Bridging Programs

    The Department of Pediatric Oncology has two bridging programs that are specifically designed to increase the pace at which new discoveries lead to new treatments. These programs bring together faculty with deep expertise in cancer genomics, chemical biology, drug discovery, cancer biology, and clinical trials. The overarching goal of the bridging programs is to develop new and more effective therapies for children with cancer. Our bridging programs are as follows:

    Precision Medicine
    • Using tumor-profiling techniques to genetically define patients' tumors and match them with targeted therapies
    • Linking basic discoveries emanating from departmental laboratory research and the Center for Pediatric Cancer Therapeutics to genetically-matched pediatric patients
    Center for Pediatric Cancer Therapeutics
    • Working closely with colleagues in the Dana-Farber Chemical Biology Program to identify new small molecules that target proteins relevant for childhood cancers
    • Developing experimental and computational tools to dissect the genetic and epigenetic determinants of pediatric cancers
    • Validating new therapeutic targets and drugs through in vivo pediatric models of disease, including patient-derived xenografts
    • Providing the preclinical datasets required for translation into the clinic

    Basic and Translational Research

    The Department's basic and translational research focus spans hematological malignancies, solid tumors, neuro-oncology, drug discovery and cancer biology, and population sciences. We have 15 independent research laboratories conducting research in the Department.

  • Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, and members of his lab team

    Research in Pediatric Hematologic Malignancies

    Our highly interactive Department of Pediatric Oncology has a history of research and innovation that has resulted in many of the therapeutics currently used internationally to treat hematologic malignancies, including leukemia and lymphoma.
    Cigall Kadoch, PhD, in her lab

    Research in Pediatric Solid Tumors

    Laboratories in the Department of Pediatric Oncology are leading the charge to understand pediatric cancers at the molecular level. Through basic, translational, and collaborative research efforts, the Solid Tumor group is focused on identifying new therapeutic targets and biomarkers in pediatric solid tumors.
    Mariella Filbin, MD, PhD, in her lab

    Research in Pediatric Neuro-Oncology

    There are many different pediatric brain tumor types and classifications based on a tumor's cell structure, composition, rate of growth, location, and other characteristics. The goal of the pediatric brain tumor research team is to better understand the cellular and molecular biology of these childhood brain tumors to unearth new therapeutic strategies.
    Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, in his lab

    Pediatric Drug Discovery and Cancer Biology

    Researchers in the Department of Pediatric Oncology investigate the molecular mechanisms of multiple cancers, focusing on the mechanisms that underlie fundamental processes such as cell differentiation, cell division, genome stability, gene expression, and chromatin modeling. We also integrate multiple disciplines in order to discover and develop novel interventions or drugs to manipulate therapeutic targets.
    Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH

    Pediatric Oncology Population Sciences

    The Program in Population Sciences includes faculty members and trainees whose research focuses broadly on aspects of health care delivery, outcomes research, and health care quality. The goal of the Program in Population Sciences is to improve care quality and outcomes for children with cancer and blood disorders through research on health care delivery and its outcomes, and by training the next generation of investigators in the field.