The Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association (ANRA) is conferring its highest honor on pediatric oncologist Garrett M. Brodeur, M.D., of the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Brodeur will receive the ANRA Lifetime Achievement Award tomorrow at the association's international meeting in Cologne, Germany.
The Award singles out a researcher who has achieved worldwide scientific prominence in investigating neuroblastoma over the course of a career. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor of childhood.
A cancer of the peripheral nervous system that typically appears as a tumor in a child's abdomen or chest, neuroblastoma varies greatly in severity, ranging from forms that spontaneously disappear to high-risk subtypes that are difficult to cure. Because of this variability, researchers have sought ways to predict the course of disease in order to select the most appropriate treatment for each patient.
Over his career, Brodeur has focused on identifying the genes, proteins and biological pathways that give rise to neuroblastoma and drive its clinical behavior. He also has built on this knowledge to develop more effective and less toxic treatments for children.
He first demonstrated in the 1980s that some neuroblastoma cells developed multiple copies of the MYCN gene, and this identified a high-risk subtype of neuroblastoma, necessitating more aggressive treatment. This discovery ushered in the current era of genomic analysis of tumors, both in adult and pediatric oncology. Profiling specific molecular alterations in a given patient's tumor helps guide oncologists toward the most appropriate treatment.
Brodeur and colleagues also discovered important neuroblastoma-related genetic changes, such as deletion of the short arm of chromosome 1 and loss of the CHD5 tumor suppressor gene. He collaborated with other CHOP researchers who identified the ALK gene as the gene responsible for most cases of hereditary neuroblastoma.
Another major focus of his research has been on the role of TRK receptor tyrosine kinases, a family of signaling proteins that control the clinical behavior of neuroblastomas. His preclinical work led to a clinical trial with a novel drug that selectively blocks these signals. He is now working on the second generation of such drugs, as well as on nanoparticle delivery systems to treat patients more effectively, and with less toxicity.
Brodeur has been a member of the CHOP medical staff since 1993 and holds the Audrey E. Evans Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology at the Hospital. He also is a professor of Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is an associate director of the Abramson Cancer Center. Last year, Brodeur received the prestigious Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
This is only the third time that ANRA has presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. It first honored Dr. Audrey E. Evans in 2000. Evans, now retired, did pioneering research on neuroblastoma at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and hosted the original Advances in Neuroblastoma Research meetings at CHOP, beginning in 1975. In 2012, ANRA honored Dr. Manfred Schwab of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, who first identified the MYCN oncogene in neuroblastoma.
About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program receives the highest amount of National Institutes of Health funding among all U.S. children's hospitals. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 535-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu.
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