Expert Pitch

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Experts Available

As Childhood Cancer Awareness Month approaches, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has experts available to discuss the many facets of pediatric cancer from clinical care to innovative research to psychosocial support and quality of life to childhood cancer survivorship. St. Jude faculty and staff are some of the most respected, credible and highly regarded sources in the world.

Brain TumorsAmar Gajjar, M.D., is co-chair of the Oncology department and director of the Neuro-Oncology division at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He has played a central role in the research and treatment of pediatric brain cancer, introducing the concept of molecularly targeted treatment to brain tumor therapy. Gajjar has also been the principle investigator on key studies that have offered new insights into the treatment of brain cancer in children.

Cancer Care and Outcome DisparitiesChing-Hon Pui, M.D., is chair of the Department of Oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and medical director of the St. Jude International Outreach China Program. Pui’s research findings have transformed how the most common childhood cancer is treated worldwide. His contributions include more effective risk-adjusted chemotherapy and improved patient monitoring. His work has shown that childhood leukemia treatment success can be extended equally to diverse ethnic, racial or socioeconomic groups nationwide.

Cancer SurvivorshipLes Robison, Ph.D., is chair of the Epidemiology and Cancer Control Department and associate director of its Cancer Prevention and Control program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Robison is an expert in the epidemiology and etiology of childhood cancer, cancer survivorship, cancer outcomes research, and clinical trials in cancer prevention and control. He is also a principal investigator for the multi-institutional Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.

Melissa Hudson, M.D., is the director of the Cancer Survivorship Division and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is also principal investigator of St. Jude LIFE. Hudson co-chaired a task force that made the St. Jude After Completion of Therapy (ACT) clinic’s findings an integral part of national guidelines for screening and managing the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment.

Child Life Shawna Grissom is the director of the Child Life Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Child Life specialists help normalize the hospital environment through stress management, coping and creating outlets for children that promote a sense of mastery, play, learning, self-expression, family involvement and peer interaction.

Clinical Trials ManagementRichard J. Gilbertson, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Division of Brain Tumor Research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His research is focused on understanding the link between normal development and the cellular and molecular origins of cancer, particularly pediatric brain tumors. Gilbertson is also involved in a series of clinical trials for new treatments of cancer.

Family-Centered CareAlicia Huettel, RN, is the family-centered care coordinator at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Huettel works with families and hospital staff to enhance communication and empower parents and patients. Huettel also focuses on strengthening the role and voice of parents and developing programs and committees that encourage and support family-center care.

GenomicsJames Downing, M.D., serves as scientific director, deputy director and executive vice president of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The work in his laboratory is focused on the fundamental regulatory mechanisms that control normal and leukemic hematopoiesis, and on cancer genomics and its application to the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancers. He currently leads the St. Jude arm of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, the largest effort in the world aimed at sequencing the complete genomes of pediatric cancer cells. The project is comparing DNA from patients’ healthy tissues with cancerous tissues in order to better understand the DNA mutations and other genetic changes that give rise to disease. This effort to sequence the complete normal and cancer genomes is expected to provide the foundation for the next generation of treatments in the fight against childhood cancer.

Hematological Malignancies Charles Mullighan, MBBS (Hons), MSc, M.D., is an associate member in the Pathology Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His research uses genomic profiling and experimental modeling to investigate the genetic basis of acute leukemia, most notably in high-risk subtypes of the disease. His work has identified genetic alterations that contribute to the development of leukemia and led to new diagnostic tests and therapeutic targets. He is also co-leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program and medical director of the Tissue Resources Core Facility at St. Jude.

Nutrition in Childhood Cancer PatientsGinger Carney is a registered dietitian and the director of Clinical Nutrition at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Carney, an author, editor, reviewer and lecturer on clinical nutrition topics, focuses on providing nutritional care to children with cancer and other pediatric catastrophic diseases.

Obesity among Childhood Cancer SurvivorsKiri Ness, Ph.D., is an assistant member in the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Ness’ research concentrates on cancer survivors, working with children and adults, many of whom have chronic diseases as a result of the cancer or its treatment. Ness also focuses on clinical and population measurement of physical performance and disability; exercise and physical activity intervention for chronic disease in childhood; the impact of disability on quality of life and life satisfaction; and obesity and metabolic syndrome in long-term pediatric cancer survivors.

Palliative and End-of-Life CareJustin Baker, M.D., is director of the division of Palliative and End-of-Life Care, attending physician in the Quality of Life Service, and director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Baker’s research focuses on ethical considerations surrounding enrollment in Phase I clinical trials. His research has demonstrated the powerful positive impact of integrating high-quality palliative care into the ongoing therapy of children suffering from serious illnesses.

Pharmacogenetics and Personalized MedicineMary V. Relling, Pharm.D., is chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her work focuses on improving drug therapy for childhood leukemia, and her areas of research include pharmacogenetics of antileukemia therapy and host-and treatment-related risk factors for adverse effects of cancer therapy.

Translational MedicineDr. William E. Evans is director and chief executive officer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For more than 30 years his research at St. Jude has focused on the pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents in children, for which Evans has received three consecutive NIH MERIT Awards from the National Cancer Institute. The major disease focus of his pharmacogenomics research is acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.


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