I am a pediatric neuro-oncologist who is a specialist in brain tumor biology, and I take care of children with brain tumors. I am an authority on the mechanisms by which cancer metastasizes throughout the body, particularly through the establishment of blood vessels that tumors need to grow and spread.
I have a joint appointment with Weill Cornell Medical College as the Stavros S. Niarchos Chair, where I run a laboratory studying the biology of medulloblastoma and high-grade gliomas. We are working to understand how cells in the environment around a tumor foster tumor growth. For example, we have found that brain tumors may send out signals to make certain nascent cells in the bone marrow multiply and travel to the brain to induce the formation of new blood vessels to feed brain tumors. We’re trying to develop monoclonal antibodies to receptors on these bone marrow cells so we can learn how to target them with therapy and inhibit them.
These bone marrow cells are often resistant to radiation therapy and may make tumor cells resistant to treatment as well. We’d like to use this information to learn how to overcome treatment resistance and reduce the risk of brain tumor recurrence. It would also be beneficial to learn how to measure these bone marrow cells in patients during treatment to see if we can pinpoint early evidence of cancer progression.
In addition to patient care and research, I teach fellows, residents, medical students, graduate students, and MD/PhD students in the Tri-Institutional MD/PhD Program, which includes The Rockefeller University. I have won several awards for my work, including the 2006 Presidential Distinction Award from President Cavago Silva of the Portuguese Republic. I was selected to be an investigator with the Champalimaud Foundation, the first foundation focused on the prevention and treatment of metastatic disease in Lisbon, Portugal.
My colleagues and I have published our work in major scientific journals such as Nature, Cell, and Science. I am also the lead editor of a major textbook called Cancer Metastasis: Biologic Basis and Therapeutics, the first textbook dedicated to research on metastasis and the treatment of metastatic disease. I also serve on the board of the Tumor Microenvironment Steering Committee and the Metastasis Steering Committee of the American Association of Cancer Research.
I’d like the results of my research to be used to personalize medicine for each patient to make it more effective with fewer side effects. Each child cured makes everything I do worthwhile.
- Clinical Expertise: Pediatric Neuro-oncology; Pediatric Oncology
- Languages Spoken: English
- Education: MD, Brown University School of Medicine; PhD, University of Vermont
- Residencies: Duke University Medical Center
- Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Board Certifications: Pediatrics
Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.