Pediatric Cancer

Current Projects
Kathryn R. Taylor, PhD

Dr. Taylor is investigating the impact of neural activity on pediatric high-grade glioma (pHGG) invasion. The innate ability of pHGGs to diffusely infiltrate healthy brain tissue is a classical hallmark of the disease, which represents a major contributor to the devastating prognosis. Using optogenetic techniques to stimulate neuronal activity, she will directly and noninvasively test the effect of activity-dependent secreted proteins on tumor cell invasion in human cancer cells and animal models. She plans to confirm the pro-infiltrative effect of candidate proteins on pHGG and subsequently uncover the mechanisms by which they alter the molecular dynamics of the tumor cell. Her hope is to highlight a novel means by which the neural microenvironment drives glioma progression and most importantly identify a new set of therapeutic targets to limit glioma spread.

Project title: "The effect of neuronal activity on pediatric glioma invasion"
Institution: Stanford University
Award Program: Sohn Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Michelle L. Monje, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Other Cancer, Pediatric, Brain
Research Area: Developmental Biology
Peng Wu, MD, PhD

Dr. Wu focuses on hepatoblastoma, the most common childhood liver malignancy and the cancer with the fastest growing incidence rate in children under the age of five years. Hepatoblastoma is characterized by a low overall mutational burden, but carries activating mutations in the Wnt signaling pathway. Using new techniques to culture cancer cells derived from patients, Dr. Wu aims to understand how abnormal Wnt activation drives cell proliferation and irregular differentiation in hepatoblastoma. The results of these studies may lead to new treatment strategies for liver cancer and other rare tumors.

Project title: "Understanding and modulating aberrant differentiation in Hepatoblastoma" 
Institution: Stanford University
Award Program: Sohn Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Roeland Nusse, PhD
Cancer Type: Pediatric
Research Area: Cancer Genetics
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