My research focuses on the translation of laboratory discoveries into therapies for pediatric cancer. While at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, I spearheaded the implementation of a vaccine protocol in young people with tumors that share biology with melanoma. I was the co-Principle Investigator of protocol DFCI 05-115, under the mentorship of Dr. Steve Hodi of Cutaneous Oncology. This Phase I protocol accrued a dozen patients, 6 of whom are still alive after initiating the protocol in autumn, 2005. An adenoviral vector was used to transfer the gene for GM-CSF to an autologous tumor cell product that was given back to the patient to stimulate the immune system through paracrine secretion of GM-CSF. I have also helped start a multi-center Phase II study of a novel c-Met inhibitor for the same tumors treated in the vaccine protocol. Both the vaccine trial and the c-Met inhibitor trial were based on rationale described by colleagues in the laboratory.
In Boston, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. David E. Fisher in Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. My clinical investigations involved collaboration with both Dr. Holcombe Grier and Dr. George Demetri. In Miami, I have been appointed to build a Phase I program for pediatric cancer within the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Eli Gilboa has been appointed as my primary mentor, and has already begun directing me to new clinical trial ideas. My long-term goal is to develop a career as a translational researcher in the treatment of pediatric solid tumors, standing at the intersection of laboratory and clinical investigation, linking ideas from my laboratory based colleagues like c-Met inhibition directly to interested pharmaceutical companies. Clinically, I specialize in the treatment of children with sarcoma and melanoma, and have a position on the Rare Tumor Subcommittee of the Children’s Oncology Group, through which I can help to collect information about such patients.