In my research, I am seeking to understand the events that transform benign tumors such as low-grade astrocytomas into malignant tumors. We have demonstrated that certain cells from the bone marrow travel to the brain and promote the development of the blood vessels that tumors need to grow and spread. My colleagues and I are seeking to develop a way to monitor certain cells in the blood to see if we can predict which tumors are most likely to become malignant, enabling us to provide treatment early to keep a tumor in a chronic, benign state. We are also examining the role these cells have in the metastatic spread or dissemination of other malignant tumors, including medulloblastoma.
We are performing molecular characterization of a type of tumor called brainstem glioma, which currently has no cure, with the hope of designing therapies targeted directly to the cause of this devastating childhood brain tumor. I started and am leading the Pediatric Brain Tumor Collaborative between Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center, where I also have an appointment. The mission of this effort is to drive the development and conduct of new clinical trials, using a multidisciplinary approach.
I truly draw inspiration from my young patients every day. I keep the goal of a happy productive childhood and continued physical, emotional, and intellectual development in mind with every treatment decision we make with our patients and their families.