Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio – Maryam Fouladi, MD, has been named the co-executive director of the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Rachid Drissi, PhD, will join the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases in The Abigail Wexner Research Instituteas a principal investigator.

Dr. Fouladi will continue her extensive work on brain stem gliomas (DIPG) at Nationwide Children’s alongside Jeffrey Leonard, MD, co-executive director of the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program and chief of Neurosurgery at Nationwide Children’s. Dr. Fouladi is the founding director of CONNECT, an international consortium that works to develop and test novel therapies in early phase clinical trials.

Using preclinical data to further support future phase I clinical trials, Dr. Drissi’s lab will focus on cellular aging and telomerase inhibitors to suppress brain tumor growth in children.

“Dr. Fouladi and Dr. Drissi are an incredible team and have a strong sense of purpose and vision to find cures for children with brain tumors,” said Timothy Cripe, division chief of Hematology, Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplant at Nationwide Children’s. “Alongside Dr. Leonard, we truly have one of the most dynamic pediatric neuro-oncology programs in the world.”

Dr. Fouladi, who also is a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, is the founding chair of The International Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) and Diffuse Midline Glioma (DMG) registries. In addition to serving as the chairs of the Collaborative Network for Neuro-Oncology Clinical Trials and CNS Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group, Dr. Fouladi has authored or co-authored more than 140 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Fouladi will replace Dr. Jonathan Finlay, who is stepping down as co-executive director. Dr. Finlay will continue his work at co-investigator for the Head Start IV trial he is conducting through Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s NEXT Consortium.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have such an accomplished and driven leader like Dr. Fouladi joining our team,” said Dr. Finlay. “With her leadership, Nationwide Children’s will undoubtably continue and expand as a center of expertise and discovery in every facet of pediatric neuro-oncology.”

Prior to Nationwide Children’s, Dr. Fouladi was the medical director of the Brain Tumor Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and was also a full professor and the Marjory J. Johnson Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Translational Research. She received her medical degree from the University of Toronto and completed her pediatric residency and hematology/oncology fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  She completed her neuro-oncology fellowship training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital followed by additional training in the Molecular Pharmacology Department at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Drissi was a postdoctoral research associate with Dr. John Cleveland and Research Associate Investigator with Dr. Jeffrey Dome and Dr. Michael Kastan at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

He previously was the director of the Brain Tumor Center Translational Research Laboratory and Associate Professor in the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics. He earned his master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Rouen followed by a master’s degree in biochemistry and his PhD in molecular biology from the University of Paris VI.