Scientific Advisory Council
The CureSearch for Children’s Cancer Scientific Advisory Council was created in 2012 to develop and guide the organization’s scientific strategy, agenda, and grants program in a way that strengthened the value of our research outcomes by focusing on moving findings from the bench to the bedside as quickly as possible.
With the support of the Scientific Advisory Council, CureSearch funds laboratory research aimed at transcending research barriers and developing innovative research approaches to solve the field’s most challenging problems.
CureSearch Scientific Advisory committee members (click each for more info):
Chair, Scientific Advisory Council, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer
Chairman, Department of Pediatrics
Chief, Bone Marrow Transplantation Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY
Richard J. O’Reilly, MD is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Richard J. O’Reilly has pioneered the development of curative marrow transplantation approaches for patients who lack HLA matched siblings. He and his colleagues introduced the use of matched unrelated donors and T-cell depleted transplants from HLA half matched donors in order to provide a normal blood system without GvHD to patients afflicted with lethal immune deficiencies and leukemia. His laboratory is currently exploring the potential of adoptive cell therapies employing immune cells grown in vitro to treat or prevent infections and recurrence of leukemia following transplantation.
Dr. O’Reilly received his M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, New York in 1968. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston and specialty training in infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He initiated the marrow transplant program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1974, and was appointed Director and Chief of the Transplant Program in Pediatrics in 1976. From 1976 until 2004, he was also Chief of the Allogeneic Marrow Transplantation Service in the Department of Medicine. He has also served as Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics since 1986. Dr. O’Reilly is the incumbent of the Claire L. Tow Chair in Pediatric Oncology Research.
He has received numerous honors since 1968, including the Lila Acheson Wallace Chair of Pediatric Research, the Louise and Allston Boyer-Young Investigator Award – Clinical Research, The Vincent Astor Chair of Clinical Research, Distinguished Alumnus Award – MSKCC, the Herman Boerhaave Medal from the University of Leiden, the McGovern Award of the Houston Academy of Medicine, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, the Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize of the Society for Translational Oncology.
Dr. O’Reilly is the author or co-author of over 360 articles on the topic of bone marrow transplantation and transplantation immunology.
Li Ka Shing Chair of Oncology
Head of Dept. of Oncology
Director, Cambridge Cancer Center
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Dr. Richard Gilbertson trained as a pediatric oncologist in the UK where he earned his MD (1992) and PhD (1998) degrees, becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1995. He moved to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, in 2000 where he served as Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Executive Vice President, and Director of the Division of Brain Tumor Research. He held the Lillian R. Cannon Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Endowed Chair. In 2015, Dr. Gilbertson returned to the UK to direct the University of Cambridge Cancer Center as the Li Ka Shing Chair of Oncology.
His laboratory research is focused on understanding the link between normal development and the origins of cancer, particularly brain tumors. His lab was the first to describe a cancer stem cell niche in brain tumors; demonstrate that a solid cancer can arise from tissue specific stem cells; use innovative cross-species genomics to trace the developmental origins of pediatric brain tumors; and to use whole genome sequencing to identify novel subgroup-specific mutations in medulloblastoma. His research has been translated into numerous diagnostic tests and innovative clinical trials for children with cancer.
Pathologist-in-Chief and Department Head
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
Vice Chair of Department of Pathology
Keck School of Medicine of USC
Los Angeles, CA
Alexander Judkins, MD is the Pathologist-in-Chief and Department Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Vice Chair of the Department of Pathology at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. Dr. Judkins is widely recognized for his diagnostic expertise and research in pediatric brain tumors, particularly embryonal CNS neoplasm, including atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT) and nonneoplastic pediatric neuropathology, where his focus has been on developmental malformations and the neuropathology of seizure disorders. He also has expertise in digital pathology and is working to build tools to integrate bioinformatics and pathology image data analysis.
Prior to joining CHLA, Dr. Judkins served as the Chief of the Division of Neuropathology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He also served as the Director of their Pathology Core Laboratory and Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Dr. Judkins currently serves in editorial positions at a variety of journals and publications, including Brain Pathology, the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology and Acta Neuropathologica.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School
Vice-Chair for Research, Pediatric Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
A. Thomas Look, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as leader of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Leukemia Program.
Over the past two decades, Dr. Look has published multiple peer-reviewed papers about the molecular basis of apoptosis and cancer and the application of molecular genetic findings to improve the treatment of childhood malignancies, particularly T-cell acute leukemia and neuroblastoma. He moved from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1999 specifically to establish a research program in the zebrafish model, to conduct genetic studies aimed at the identification of novel targets for cancer therapy, and is now internationally recognized as a leader in this field.
Dr. Look’s initial work led to the first transgenic model of leukemia in the zebrafish, paving the way for chemical and genome-wide genetic modifier screens in a vertebrate disease model. Recently, his laboratory developed the first zebrafish transgenic model of childhood neuroblastoma, opening up the opportunity to apply the powerful genetic technology available in the zebrafish to identify new molecular targets for therapy in this devastating childhood tumor.
He is the principal investigator on several NIH-funded grants, including a Program Project focusing on T-ALL pathogenesis. He also serves on numerous editorial boards for peer-reviewed journals, including Neoplasia, Cancer Research and the International Journal of Hematology.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology
Baylor College of Medicine
Founding Director, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
Texas Children’s Hospital
Malcolm Brenner, MD, PhD, is Founding Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Texas Children’s Hospital and The Methodist Hospital. He is a Distinguished Service professor, in the Departments of Pediatrics and of Medicine at BCM. Brenner received his medical degree and subsequent PhD from Cambridge University, England. Brenner’s clinical research interests span many aspects of stem cell transplantation, using genetic manipulation of cultured cells to obtain therapeutic effects. Efforts in Brenner’s laboratory to analyze the cell of origin when relapse occurs in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia led Brenner’s team to be the first to label autologous bone marrow cells genetically after purging, prior to being reintroduced to the patient. He is studying the effects of gene transfer into autologous neuroblastoma cells and the use of gene-modified EBV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyctes for prevention and treatment of lymphoproliferative disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, lung cancer and neuroblastoma. His group recently pioneered the first clinical use of a new safety switch for cellular therapy.
Brenner is past Editor in Chief of “Molecular Therapy” and a former President of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and the International Society for Cell Therapy. He has won many awards for his work and in 2011 these including the ASGCT Outstanding Achievement Award and the American Society of Hematology Mentor Award.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Oncology
Director, Center for Childhood Cancer Research
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Stephen Hunger is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist who specializes in research and treatment regarding children, adolescents and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, almost all focused on pediatric ALL. Dr. Hunger is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Oncology and Director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Hunger is the prior Vice-Chairman (2002-2007) and Chairman (2008-2015) of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) ALL Disease Committee. In these roles he has been responsible for oversight of the design and conduct of clinical trials and linked translational research studies that enroll over 2,000 children with ALL each year, including more than 70% of US children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL. Dr. Hunger leads the COG ALL TARGET (Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Therapies) Project, that has conducted comprehensive studies of the genetic features of childhood ALL and revolutionized understanding of the genomic landscape of pediatric ALL. These findings are now being translated to clinical trials of targeted therapy in Philadelphia chromosome-like ALL. Dr. Hunger also has an interest in global health with a focus on improving treatment for children with ALL in low and middle income countries.
Kyle Haydock Professor of Oncology
Professor of Oncology, Pediatrics, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and Human Genetics
Director, Pediatric Oncology
Director, Johns Hopkins/National Cancer Institute Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Don Small received his undergraduate, MD, and PhD degrees from the Johns Hopkins University (1979, 1985). He trained in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology at Hopkins. During his pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship, he studied the role of a number of proteins in DNA replication. He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1990, and was named the Kyle Haydock Professor of Oncology in 2003, with joint appointments in Pediatrics, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and Human Genetics. He has served as Director of Pediatric Oncology at Johns Hopkins since 2006.
His laboratory was the first to clone the human FLT3 gene, which is the most frequently mutated gene in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He led the team that investigated the role of FLT3 in leukemia and was the first to discover drugs capable of inhibiting the tyrosine kinase activity of FLT3. This research revealed that this class of drugs could preferentially kill leukemic cell lines and primary AML samples expressing mutant FLT3–one of the first successful molecularly targeted cancer therapies. His lab also developed a high-throughput cell-based in vitro assay that facilitated screening of a large library of kinase inhibitors and identification of several with great potency and selectivity against FLT3. His group led the first clinical trials investigating the use of a FLT3 inhibitor in adult relapsed and refractory FLT3-mutant AML, and determined how best to combine these drugs with chemotherapy. The team also helped design the first pediatric trials of FLT3 inhibitors for use in treating pediatric AML and infant ALL.
His lab continues to investigate the process of leukemic transformation, the role of FLT3 in leukemia stem cells utilizing mouse models, and signaling changes in leukemic stem cells.
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Attending Physician in Pediatric Oncology
Principal Investigator, Linde Program in Cancer Chemical Biology
Director, Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Loren D. Walensky, MD, PhD, is a Principal Investigator and Attending Physician in the Department of Pediatric Oncology and the Linde Program in Cancer Chemical Biology at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program.
Dr. Walensky’s research focuses on the chemical biology of deregulated apoptotic and transcriptional pathways in cancer and other pediatric diseases. The goal of his laboratory is to develop an arsenal of new compounds – a “chemical toolbox” – to investigate and block pathologic protein interactions. Dr. Walensky has broken new ground in our understanding of BCL-2 family protein interactions, which govern the critical balance between cellular life and death. His team has generated highly specific and stable “stapled peptides” that preserve the structure of biologically-active alpha-helices, maximizing their potential as novel tools to elucidate biological pathways and as prototype therapies for cancer, infectious diseases, and diabetes. His research contributed to the founding of Aileron Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotechnology company, which has advanced to clinical trials a first-in-class stapled peptide drug to reactivate p53 in cancer, developed based on Dr. Walensky’s work.
Dr. Walensky is the recipient of numerous awards including a Stand Up to Cancer Innovative Research Grant, an NIH Director’s Transformative RO1 Award, a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award, a Harvard Medical School Young Mentor Award, and most recently, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Morse Award for Research Excellence, the Samuel Rosenthal Prize for Excellence in Academic Pediatrics, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research, and an NCI Outstanding Investigator R35 Award. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Society for Pediatric Research, and the American Pediatric Society.
Industry Advisory Council
The CureSearch for Children's Cancer Industry Advisory Council was created in 2016 to guide the organization's Catapult Initiative. The council brings together industry leaders committed to pediatric oncology drug development. With the support of the Industry Advisory Council, CureSearch hopes to propel new treatments over the Valley of Death by facilitating collaboration between academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies, fostering and encouraging pediatric oncology drug development and clinical trials and accelerating commercialization of new therapies for children with cancer.
CureSearch Industry Advisory committee members (click each for more info):
Chair, Industry Advisory Council
Global Franchise Head, Pediatrics
Raphaël Rousseau is the Global Franchise Head of the Innovative Pediatric Drug Development (iPODD) group at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Prior to joining Roche in 2009, Raphaël was a professor of Medical and Pediatric Oncology at the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, where he established a clinical and translational research program in high-risk pediatric cancers. He also became a permanent expert for biomedical research within France's Agency for the Safety of Medicinal Products. In 2008 he was awarded the Cancer Foundation Advanced Clinical Research Award in Sarcoma from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his translational research project in pediatric osteosarcoma. Raphaël currently serves as Chair of the CureSearch Industry Advisory Council.
Steve is a pediatric hematologist oncologist who joined Gilead Sciences in 2013 and currently serves as senior director in the hematology oncology section leading several programs. Prior to working at Gilead Sciences he worked as executive director at Amgen for 4 years after 20 years of academic practice in pediatric hematology oncology with special expertise in stem cell transplantation.
Senior Vice President, Head of Clinical Development
Silverback Therapeutics, Inc.
Samuel Blackman is Senior Vice President and Head of Clinical Development at Silverback Therapeutics in Seattle, Washington. For the past 9 years he has been focused on the early clinical development of novel cancer therapeutics and has held various positions of increasing responsibility within the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently, he served as Senior Medical Director at Juno Therapeutics where he was responsible for clinical development of novel immunotherapies for leukemia, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) therapies. Previously, Samuel served as Executive Director and Head of Translational Medicine at Seattle Genetics where he was responsible for pre-clinical and early clinical development of novel antibody drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics for cancer and lead a group of 30 physicians and scientists.
Senior Director and Clinical Program Leader
Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research (NIBR)
Scott is a Senior Director, Oncology Research Physician in Translational Clinical Oncology at Novartis. Prior to joining Novartis in 2010, Scott was a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, laboratory scientist, teacher and program director in the Simmons Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. At Novartis, he currently leads the PD-1 inhibitor clinical development program, which provides the foundation for combination immunotherapies.
Clinical Development Lead, Cancer Epigenetics
Arindam Dhar is an Executive Medical Director at Glaxo Smith Kline, Pennsylvania, and serves as the Clinical Development Leader for their Cancer Epigenetics Program. He leads a team of physicians and clinical scientists in the development of 4 novel assets, providing strategic leadership for development of the cancer epigenetic clinical portfolio. He also serves as the medical lead for their expanding bromodomain inhibitor program. Many pediatric cancers have epigenetic modifications that are target for therapy with these assets as single agents and in combination. Before joining GSK in 2013, Arindam was Medical Director at Bristol Myers Squibb working in their early and late development programs for six years. Prior to that, he was with the Interagency Oncology Task Force, a joint NCI-FDA program.
Senior Vice President
Head of Immuno-oncology
Global Medicines Development, AstraZeneca
Robert joined AstraZeneca in 2014 and currently serves as Senior Vice President and Head of Immuno-oncology, Global Medicines Development. Prior to AstraZeneca, Robert was Executive Director and Section Head of Oncology Clinical Development at Merck, where he had leadership responsibility for the development of immune-oncology assets, including Pembrolizumab, and also served as the founding Chair of the Pediatric Development Committee. Robert graduated with Alpha Omega Alpha honors from Yale Medical School and received his training in pediatrics and pediatric hematology-oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Su Young Kim is a Medical Director in Clinical Development Oncology at AbbVie. He graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and obtained his PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, focusing on tumor suppressor genes. He received this fellowship training in pediatric hematology-oncology at the joint program at the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health. At AbbVie, Su Young currently works in the chronic lymphocytic leukemia program and leads the clinical development of venetoclax in pediatric patients.
Executive Director, Hematologic Malignancies Franchise Clinical Lead
Sandra Meech is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and Executive Director in Global Oncology at Pfizer Inc. She is a member of the Strategy, Innovation and Collaboration Group where she provides technical and clinical reviews for clinical stage in-licensing opportunities and is involved with strategic projects aimed to enhance innovation and external collaborations. Sandra is the Co-Chair of the Pfizer Pediatric Council, Pfizer's strategic pediatric resource supporting clinical development project teams and influencing the external environment in order to deliver high quality pediatric clinical development programs for the safe use of medicines in children.
VP, Clinical Affairs & Patient Engagement
Loxo Oncology, Inc.
Dr. Deborah Morosini joined LOXO Oncology in 2016 as vice president of clinical affairs & patient engagement, bringing expertise in oncology drug development, clinical genomics and insightful philanthropic activism. Loxo Oncology, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company innovating the development of highly selective medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers. As an early team member & VP at Foundation Medicine (FMI), she developed a niche specialty in the genomics of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer. Prior to joining FMI, she founded and led the molecular pathology group at AstraZeneca US, where she helped develop and implement biomarker strategies for biomarker driven trials. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Foundation, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) scientific advisory board, Target Cancer, the NHGRI council, Cancer Support Community: New Jersey, and the development subcommittee for the AYA cancer foundation, Critical Mass.
Vice President, Clinical Development
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Dr. Skolnik is Vice President of Clinical Development for Inovio Pharmaceuticals and prior to that was Chief Medical Officer and VP of Clinical Research for TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals, as well as a US Medical Affairs lead in Oncology for GSK, and clinical lead physician for several pivotal oncology programs at AstraZeneca. Dr. Skolnik is a practicing pediatric hematologist-oncologist with experience in both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies. Dr. Skolnik has experience with both early and late-stage clinical development and extensive experience in developing oncology drug programs for children. Dr. Skolnik previously served as chair of a Children's Oncology Group study, and has several peer-reviewed publications, one of which serves as the basis for novel trial design methodology in the pediatric oncology space.
Oncology Scientific Advisor
Dr. Trigg is the Oncology Scientific Advisor at Bristol-Myers Squibb focused on Immuno-Oncology Therapeutics as well as pediatric related activities, including initiating a pediatric survivorship fellowship in 2015. Prior to this role, Dr. Trigg served on the National, Executive, and Regional Medical Director teams for Oncology Medical Affairs at Merck for 8 years. He also brings 25 years of academic experience through which most of his research centered on treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and innovative methods for stem cell transplantation. He has served as the chair of the ALL Strategy Group of the Children's Cancer Group and the ALL Open Studies Committee of the Children's Oncology Group. He has received several national and international accolades including the "Fly for Eagles" award in 2005 for his contributions to the research and care of those with childhood leukemias.
Director, Oncology Extramural Research
Amgen US Medical Organization
Tony Wagner is the Director of Oncology Extramural Research at Amgen. He graduated from USC Keck School of Medicine with a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Brown University Alpert Medical School where his academic work focused on vascular biology, renal physiology and blood pressure regulatory mechanisms. He has worked at Amgen for 20 years focusing on the development external research collaborations and strategic alliances with the National Cancer Institute, academic research centers, and other top tier oncology research organizations.