Participation in the Activities of the Tow Center for Developmental Oncology

Participation in the Activities of the Tow Center for Developmental Oncology

For External Researchers

Learn how you can join our world-renowned faculty.


All faculty in the Memorial Hospital, the Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program, and the Sloan Kettering Institute are invited to join the Tow Center for Developmental Oncology (TCDO).

As concepts and therapies of developmental cancers are broadly relevant to basic molecular and developmental biology and human cancer in general, the TCDO collaborates with diverse MSK Centers, Programs, and Departments.

TCDO-affiliated faculty shall participate in all TCDO activities, including seminars and research in progress meetings, and apply for grant funding and use of shared resources. A letter of interest should be sent to [email protected].


The Tow Center for Developmental Oncology Career Development Awards

The Tow CDO Career Development Award is for current MSK residents, fellows, and instructors who are engaged in mentored research projects. While the program is designed for MD physicians, PhD scientists working on problems with immediate medical relevance are also invited. Research projects must be related to the biology or therapy of cancers that affect children and young adults, but otherwise can be from any discipline of medicine and field of science. Applicants cannot be concurrently supported by other young investigator or career development awards. The TCDO Career Development Award will provide salary support and research funds (up to $50K/yr which can be used to support technician salaries) for 1-3 years. Please send your CV, one-page letter research summary, one-page letter description of career plan, proposed budget, and mentor’s letter of recommendation. Applications must be submitted via InfoReady by May 15, with support commencing on July 1.


  • Sheila Alcantara, MD, PhD (SKI). Stem-Like Cancer Cells and the Immune Microenvironment in Metastatic Medulloblastoma. Mentor: Luis F. Parada, PhD.
  • Oriana Miltiadous, MD (Pediatrics). Microbiome evolution in patients undergoing stem cell transplant and correlates with immune reconstitution and outcomes. Mentors: Jaap-Jan Boelens, MD, PhD; Marcel van den Brink, MD, PhD.


  • Sanam Shahid, MD (Pediatrics). Chimeric antigen receptor-modified natural killer cells targeting CD371 in pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia. Mentor: Katharine C. Hsu, MD, PhD
  • Melissa Lumish, MD (Medicine). Utilizing microbiome analysis and patient-derived organoid models to define molecular and immunologic determinants of early onset gastrointestinal cancers. Mentors: Karuna Ganesh, MD, PhD; Andrea Cercek, MD
The Tow Center for Developmental Oncology High-Impact Exploratory Projects

Investigators of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are invited to submit research applications for support from the Tow Center for Developmental Oncology. The mission of the Tow Center is to develop fundamental insights into the molecular mechanisms of cancers in children and young adults, and to devise new approaches for their definitive therapy and control. There are many unanswered questions that need to be addressed for childhood and young adult cancers. Impactful projects aimed at advancing basic science relevant to our understanding of young-onset cancers, as well as projects focused on mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, experimental therapeutics, and translational science involving human patients are all of interest. Innovative proposals that might not qualify for traditional sources of funding are invited, including those that are exploratory with substantial measure of risk, so long as this is balanced by clear explanation of significance and potential for high reward. A one-page letter of intent (LOI) should include: the project title, an outline of the specific aims of the proposal, the individual investigator(s) and their programmatic/departmental affiliation(s), and an estimated budget amount for one or two years up to $100,000. The letter must provide a rationale for the proposal, explain its innovative aspects, and justify exploratory aspects by the potential for important advances. Please include one-paragraph explanation of potential future studies to be carried out upon successful completion of this exploratory project. Applicants may not submit multiple LOIs as the principal investigator; however, the PI on one application may be listed as a Co-PI on other applications. The LOI should be uploaded to InfoReady, with detailed instructions available from [email protected].


  • John Petrini, PhD: The RING Domain of RTEL1: A Newly Discovered Ubiquitin Ligase


  • Santosha Vardhana, MD, PhD: Altered T-cell homeostasis as a driver of chronic immune dysfunction in pediatric patients with B-cell malignancies
  • Viviane Tabar, MD: Therapeutic Targeting of Notch2Nl in Pediatric and Young Adult glioma 
  • Christopher Klebanoff, MD, PhD: A gene therapy strategy to enhance the persistence and antitumor efficacy of human chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified NK cells for childhood cancers 


  • Andrea Ventura, MD, PhD: A multidisciplinary approach to model, investigate, and treat desmoplastic small cell round tumors
  • Thomas Vierbuchen, PhD: Role of BAF Complex Function in RAS- and HIPPO-regulated Transcriptional Programs Required for Cellular Competitiveness During Embryonic Development
  • Wesley Tansey, PhD: A preclinical active learning platform for large-scale adaptive combination therapy screens for pediatric sarcomas
  • Stephen Roberts, MD: Modeling oncogenic transformation in neuroblastoma
  • Prasad Jallepalli, MD, PhD: Exploiting R-loops as an epigenetic vulnerability of Ewing Sarcoma
  • Chrysothemis Brown, MBBS, PhD: Uncovering novel immune-therapeutic strategies in pediatric neuroblastoma