See also our related blogs for the Keller Laboratory and the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Initiative.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

OHSU and NSWF welcomes Dr. Jeff Toretsky

Jeffrey A. Toretsky, M.D.,
Professor of Oncology and Pediatrics
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center -
Georgetown University

"Drugging the Undruggable:
Targeting Transcription in Ewings Sarcoma"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
4:00 P.M.
OHSU Main Hospital, 8th Floor Conference Room

To View Presentation Via Live Stream - CLICK HERE

Sponsored by Northwest Sarcoma Foundation Lectureship
Hosted by Charles Keller, MD, Leader Pediatric Cancer Biology Program - OHSU

Our thanks to Paul Meltzer

Our thanks to Dr. Paul Meltzer, NCI, who gave a talk at OHSU on oncogenomics Tuesday October 9th as part of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Seminar Series.  Paul is an expert on osteosarcoma (and pediatric sarcomas in general), and we were grateful for his visit and insight.  
[picture, right:  OHSU AYA fellow Lara Davis with Paul]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lara Davis is recipient of Umpqua Innovation Award

The Knight Cancer Institute and Pediatric Cancer Biology Program are grateful to Umpqua Bank for their ongoing commitment to innovation in the field of childhood cancer research.  This year's recipient is AYA Oncology fellow, Dr. Lara Davis, who will use this $10,000 award to explore a novel culture technique for growing and expanding primary human sarcoma cells.  
[ pictured (left to right):  Brian Druker, Lara Davis, Ray Davis (CEO, Umpqua Bank) and Charles Keller]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Now Open: OHSU Personalized Leukemia Trial

For details of this intriguing trial, see Clinical #  NCT01620216.  An approach where functional testing directs therapy.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation sponsors Hepatoblastoma Lectureship

(reposted from the Macy Eason Cancer Research Foundation release; This Knight Cancer Institute Seminar Series lecture by Dr. Stefano Cairo is Tuesday June 4 in the OHSU Main Hospital Conference room at 4pm.  Public Welcome!)

(Perry, GA.) - The Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation, a nonprofit pediatric cancer foundation headquartered in Perry, Ga., is catalyzing pediatric cancer research this week by bring together world-renowned cancer and stem cell doctors and scientists for the Macy Easom Memorial Lectureship at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.,  on Tuesday, June 5.

The Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation was established in memory of Macy Easom, a 4-year-old girl diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of pediatric liver cancer, who passed away at the age of 5. The foundation’s mission is to provide funding to enable research devoted to finding a cure and treatment for hepatoblastoma and other pediatric cancers while promoting public awareness.

To help reach its mission, the foundation has partnered with Stefano Cairo, Ph.D., a human geneticist at XenTech in Paris, France, as well as Charles Keller, M.D., a nationally accomplished childhood cancer physician-scientist, and Markus Grompe, M.D., an internationally recognized liver biology expert -- both from Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital PapĂ© Family Pediatric Research Institute, and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, Ore.

“Hepatoblastoma is a neglected rare cancer in children, but this liver tumor is among the top eight causes of childhood cancer deaths,” says Dr. Keller. “Scientists studying other pediatric and adult cancers (including hepatocellular carcinomas) are building a foundation of knowledge about potential signaling pathways that may be related to how hepatoblastoma tumors start and progress, but the amount of focused research on hepatoblastoma is limited and a clear plan to tackle this disease is lacking.”

Dr. Keller says the scientific exchange afforded by the lectureship will bring together experts on hepatoblastoma biology, and those with internationally recognized expertise in liver stem cells from which this tumor likely arises. “The Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation, and its commitment to establishing a basic science laboratory for the study of hepatoblastoma is of vital importance if we are to reverse the trend of mortality in this childhood liver cancer.”

For more information on the Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation, visit

The lecture, which begins at 4 p.m. in the OHSU Hospital eighth-floor auditorium, is free and open to the public. For more information, please send an email to

For the Tuesday June 5 4pm PST LIVE Internet feed for Dr. Cairo's seminar, click here.  
About Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation
The Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation in Perry, GA was formed to help find a cure for hepatoblastoma, a form of pediatric liver cancer, as well as other pediatric cancers. Macy Easom was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at the age of four and passed away at the age of five. Her family has formed the foundation in hopes of partnering with doctors for pediatric cancer research and to eventually bring a pediatric cancer research center to the Southeast.


OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital ranks among the top children's hospitals in the United States in eight clinical specialties.* It ranks 36th nationally for NIH-awarded pediatric research funding among children's hospitals affiliated with an academic medical center**, and is one of only 22 NIH-designated Child Health Research Centers in the country.
OHSU Doernbecher cares for tens of thousands of children each year from Oregon, southwest Washington and around the nation, resulting in more than 175,000 discharges, surgeries, transports and outpatient visits annually.
Nationally recognized OHSU Doernbecher physicians and nurses provide a full range of pediatric care in the most patient- and family-centered environment. These highly trained clinicians also travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, providing specialty care to more than 3,000 children at more than 150 outreach clinics in 15 locations. In addition, OHSU Doernbecher delivers neonatal and pediatric critical care consultation to community hospitals statewide through its state-of-the-art telemedicine network.
* U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals 2011-12
** National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lyla Nsouli Foundation funds academic – pharma pilot study

The Lyla Nsouli Foundation is proud to announce the award of a 67,000 USD pilot grant to Dr. Sakir ‘Hume’ Gultekin, Neuropathologist and Associate Professor of Pathology, Oregon Health & Science University.  In this pilot study, Dr. Gultekin will examine a new set of cell surface receptors in diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) to determine whether their co-expression matches a profile consistent with novel therapeutic targets. While at the earliest stage of preclinical development, it is hoped that novel targets and unique therapeutic approaches might lead to a clinical trial for children with DIPG in the foreseeable future.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

(re-posted from the AYA Voice)

In a joint effort with our community partners, Familias en Accion and Oncology Youth Connection, the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program will begin our Cancer Transitions sessions. The program aims to help young adult patients (aged 18-39 at time of session start) with cancer, who are transitioning from active treatment to survivorship. Participants need to have completed treatment in the last two years. Beginning Thursday, May 24, 2012, the six-week program will focus on a new area of survivorship each week, providing information on things like tips for healthy eating, how to keep exercise in a busy schedule, and how to take control of survivorship. We’ll also provide tools for working through the emotional and social hurdles faced during the transition period after treatment, as well as give AYAs a chance to connect with others and learn they are not alone. So if you are a survivor, or you know someone who could benefit from this FREE program, please email Mindy or call 503-494-0446 to get more information or to register. Space is limited.
Adolescents and young adults with cancer have different needs from other patients. The Knight Cancer Institute is proud to offer Oregon's only program designed exclusively for people ages 15-39. Our internationally-recognized, award-winning Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program is dedicated to ensuring all AYAs with cancer have access to services tailored to their specific needs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dr. Langenau gives Scott Michael Carter Memorial Lectureship

We are excited to welcome MGH cancer researcher, Dr. David Langenau, 4pm on Tuesday May 6 to present the second annual Scott Michael Carter Memorial Lectureship, “Self-renewal mechanisms in T-cell Leukemia and Rhabdomyosarcoma”.  The Knight Cancer Institute seminar series lecture will be held in the OHSU Main Hospital auditorium, room 8B60.  
For more information on the Scott Carter Foundation, and Scott's selfless legacy, click here.  
Live stream 4pm PST:  click here

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Miles Alpern Levin Memorial Lectureship

We are grateful to Dr. Thomas Rando, Professor of Neurology & Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, for having presented the second annual Miles Alpern Levin Memorial Lectureship with his seminar entitled, "Molecular Regulation of Stem Cell Quiescence".  This topic, activation vs quiescence of muscle stem cells and progenitors, is very much relevant to the study of childhood muscle cancers, such as the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma that affected Miles.  Below is the video that introduced Miles' life.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Test Your Knowledge on Adolescents & Young Adults with Cancer

[ re-posted by  ]

April 2-8th is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week (NYACAW). What better way to celebrate than to share some facts about this special population of 15 to 39 year olds affected by cancer?
Did you know?
  • Every year 70,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer.
  • That makes AYAs more likely to have cancer than their childhood counterparts.
  • Survival rates for adolescent and young adults have lagged behind the steady improvement for children and older adults.
  • AYAs have special needs such as fertility preservation consultations, and unique psychosocial concerns.
  • OHSU Knight Cancer Institute has the only AYA Oncology Program in the state of Oregon.
Now that you’ve got some facts, test your knowledge against the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Adolescent and Young Adults with Cancer Quiz. Don’t forget to check out the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute AYA Oncology Program website to find out what we do and how we can help you or someone you love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Patient Groups and Researchers Join Forces to Speed Treatments for Rare Pediatric Brain Tumor

(reposted from here

Four Organizations Fund International Research Consortium to Improve Lives of Children Suffering From Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) 
January 23, 2012 (Washington, DC, and Bethesda, MD) – Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, The Cure Starts Now Foundation and The Lyla Nsouli Foundation for Children’s Brain Cancer Research today announced their collaborative funding to support groundbreaking research aimed at dramatically improving the lives of children suffering from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) – one of the most devastating pediatric cancers.  Together, the four organizations have committed $229,000 to support the work of the DIPG Preclinical Consortium, the only international scientific group focused on preclinical development of targeted therapy combinations for DIPG.  The goal of the research is to test and then move the most effective therapy forward to early phase clinical trials in the next 18 – 24 months.
Children with DIPG have a uniformly dismal prognosis with a median survival of 9 months.  A DIPG tumor grows amidst the nerves in the pons (middle) of the brain stem, and therefore cannot be surgically removed. Radiotherapy provides only temporary improvement of symptoms.  No chemotherapy has ever proven effective. Novel therapies are desperately needed. “The scientific community has truly rallied around this cause.  The mandate for a novel therapeutic approach was born in the Children’s Oncology Group brain tumor committee under the bold leadership of Dr. Amar Gajjar.  With the consortium co-leadership of clinical trialist Maryam Fouladi and the accountability to DIPG patients and their family, this program is moving unexpectedly quickly towards its goal,” says Charles Keller, MD, Associate Professor and leader of the Pediatric Cancer Biology Program, Pape' Family Pediatric Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University.
“If we succeed, it will be because families that have donated their children’s tumor gave us this opportunity.  We are reminded every day that the cultures we study are parent-directed Legacy Gifts of the most selfless kind from children who current therapy could not save (the brain stem being vital to life; therefore, tumor donation can only occur at autopsy).  What  ABC2 , CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, the Lyla Nsouli Foundation, and The Cure Starts Now have done to make our consortium possible, and so quickly, is unprecedented – and greatly appreciated,” adds Dr. Keller.
The research project entitled, "Rapid Preclinical Development of a Targeted Therapy Combination for DIPG" was launched with initial support from The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Two additional European labs were added to the project with funding from The Lyla Nsouli Foundation for Children’s Brain Cancer Research (based in London, UK).
The funding from ABC2 and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer added a cutting-edge functional genomics component that will prioritize potential new drug targets. “We are proud to support this multi-national team of researchers in their efforts to rapidly develop effective drugs to treat children suffering from DIPG,” said Max Wallace, CEO of ABC2. “By combining forces with our non-profit partners, ABC2 looks forward to leveraging the resources and expertise of all the organizations to improve the lives of children with cancer.”   John Lehr, president and CEO of CureSearch for Children’s Cancer echoed Wallace’s comments saying that “developing new drug targets is an integral step to providing children with DIPG a  better prognosis.  CureSearch is committed to funding research in rare cancer types so that one day, all children will be guaranteed a cure.”
# # #
About the DIPG Preclinical Consortium
The multi-national consortium is identifying potentially important biological pathways in DIPGs that are readily targetable with currently available molecularly-targeted agents. In addition, the consortium has successfully grown human DIPG tumors from autopsy materials in the petri dish and has developed mouse models of DIPG – a key resource to functionally testing potential therapies.

Since the number of children with this unfortunate disease is limited, and the number of available targeted agents is quite large, the consortium hypothesizes that it can identify a promising combination of molecularly-targeted agents using functional genomics to prioritize targets. The ultimate goal is to move the most effective single agent or combination therapy forward to early phase clinical trials in the next 18-24 months.

The DIPG Preclinical Consortium team includes:
Charles Keller MD, Kellie Nazemi MD and Nate Selden MD, PhD at Oregon Health & Science University
Oren Becher MD, Duke University Medical Center
Michelle Monje MD, PhD, Stanford University
Maryam Fouladi MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Cynthia Hawkins, MD, PhD, University of Toronto
Xiao-Nan Li MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Dannis G. van Vuurden MD, MSc, & Esther Hulleman, VU Cancer Center Amsterdam
Jacques Grill, Institut Gustave-Roussy, Villejuif, France

For More Information about the Research Funding Partners:

Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure:
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer:
The Cure Starts Now Foundation:
The Lyla Nsouli Foundation for Children’s Brain Cancer Research:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Knight Cancer Institute Seminar Series speaker, Dr. Robin Jones (Seattle)

We are pleased to have Dr. Robin Jones, Director of the Bob & Eileen Gilman Family Sarcoma Research Program of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, with colleague physician-scientist Dr. Seth Pollack giving the their joint seminar, "Novel Therapeutic Strategies in Sarcoma" on Tuesday January 17 at 4pm in the OHSU Main Hospital 8th Floor Conference Room 8B60.  The public is welcome, and after the seminar a stream of the lecture will be available here.