Speakers & Chairs


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Childhood Cancer 2017

18th / 19th September, Newcastle
Two-day meeting focused on translational research for patient benefit.

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Speakers & Chairs

Dr Nick Goulden (Conference Chair)
Medical Research Director, Children with Cancer UK
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Nick Goulden retired from Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he was a Consultant in Paediatric Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, in December 2015. He subsequently took up the role of Medical Research Director at Children with Cancer UK on a part-time basis.

Nick was instrumental in incorporating the detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) into treatment stratification for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and through his involvement in the last two national clinical trials for ALL, he has helped deliver amongst the best outcomes achieved internationally for this disease.

red-dot Day one: Precision medicine

Louis Chesler (co-chair)
Paediatric Solid Tumour Biology and Therapeutics Team Leader, Clinical Services Division, The Institute of Cancer Research, London; Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London
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Louis completed his early scientific and medical training in the United States, taking his Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MD and PhD at Northwestern University and Medical School in Chicago. During this time he also worked for the US National Institute of Health and National Cancer Institute as an Intramural Fellow.
In 1995, he joined the University of California, San Francisco, working as a paediatric oncology consultant and running a neuroblastoma research programme, before moving to London in 2007 to take up a Senior Clinical Lectureship at The Institute of Cancer Research. His lab focuses on the development of new personalised approaches to childhood cancer treatment, including improving understanding of the role of the MYCN oncogene.

David Walker (co-chair)
Professor of Paediatric Oncology, Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, University of Nottingham; Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology, Nottingham Children’s Hospital
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David led the development of the clinical service for children with cancer in Nottingham as part of the mid-Trent region from 1990 to 2006. He has participated in NHS management in a variety of roles including Clinical Director for Children’s Services, lead clinician for Cancer Services and is now lead clinician for Mid-Trent Cancer Research Network.

David’s research interests have a broad spectrum within paediatric oncology with a particular interest in brain tumours, health outcomes, functional imaging, drug delivery, clinical trials and adolescent medicine. Since the late nineties he has been co-director, with Richard Grundy, of the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre which has brought together over 60 clinical and scientific researchers across the University interested in research related to childhood brain tumours.

The current flagship campaign, “Headsmart – Be brain tumour aware”, is aiming to raise awareness across the UK of the relative risk of brain tumours in children and young people as one of the differential diagnoses of a broad spectrum of children’s symptoms. Headsmart was launched in June 2011, supported by an evidence-based age-stratified health messages decision-support website and an evaluation programme.

Richard Gilbertson
Li Ka-Shing Chair of Oncology, Head of Department of Oncology & Director of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, Cambridge University
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Richard trained as a paediatric oncologist in the UK where he earned his MBBS and PhD degrees, becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1995.

He moved to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis in 2000 where he served as the Co-Leader of the Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program and founding Director of the Molecular Clinical Trials Core before being appointed as the Comprehensive Cancer Center Director, Executive Vice President, and Lillian R Cannon Endowed Chair in 2011. In 2014 he was appointed as the Scientific Director of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In August 2015, Richard moved back home to England to take up his current post at Cambridge University. His laboratory research is focused on understanding the link between normal development and the origins of cancer, particularly brain tumours. His lab was the first to describe a cancer stem cell niche; demonstrate that a solid cancer can arise from tissue-specific stem cells; use innovative cross-species genomics to trace the developmental origins of pediatric brain tumors; and to use whole genome sequencing to identify novel subgroup-specific mutations in medulloblastoma and ependymoma. His research has been translated into numerous diagnostic tests and innovative clinical trials for children with cancer.

Darren Hargrave
Consultant Paediatric Oncologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital; Reader in Paediatric Neuro-oncology, UCL Institute of Child Health
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Darren specialises in paediatric neuro-oncology and the development of new anti-cancer drugs for children and adolescents. He trained in the UK and Canada and is a member of both national and international groups in the fields of paediatric neuro-oncology and drug development.

He is the Chair of the UK NCRI Children’s Cancer Novel Agents Subgroup and was the former Chair of the SIOPE High Grade Glioma working group. He is a Chief/ Principal Investigator of several completed, on-going and planned clinical trials in paediatric cancer.

His research interests include: the biology of childhood malignant glioma and DIPG, the use of innovative imaging techniques in childhood cancer, neurofibromatosis related tumours and drug development of targeted therapies in childhood and adolescent oncology.

Anthony Moorman
Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University
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Together with Professor Christine Harrison, Anthony heads the Leukaemia Research Cytogenetics Group (LRCG) at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.

Over the past 24 years, the LRCG has worked towards comprehensively characterising the genetic landscape of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Utilising genetic and clinical data on more than 10,000 clinical trial patients, Professor Moorman and his team have identified and assessed multiple genetic abnormalities. Several of these biomarkers are now routinely used to tailor the therapy of newly diagnosed patients.

Stefan Pfister
Professor of Pediatric Neuro-oncology & Head of Division of Pediatric Neurooncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg
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Stefan has headed the Division of Pediatric Neurooncology at the German Cancer Research Center since 2014.

Being a paediatrician by training, Stefan received his MD from Tübingen University, and his clinical education at Mannheim and Heidelberg University Hospitals. As a physician-scientist, he completed postdoctoral fellowships with Christopher Rudd at the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute/ Harvard Medical School, and with Peter Lichter at the German Cancer Research Center, Division of Molecular Genetics.

His research focuses on the genetic and epigenetic characterisation of childhood brain tumours by applying next-generation profiling methods and subsequently translating novel findings into a clinical context. For his translational neurooncology projects, Stefan received amongst others the German Cancer Award in 2012.

red-dot Day two: Immunotherapy

Persis Amrolia (co-chair)
Professor of Transplantation Immunology, UCL Institute of Child Health; Consultant in Bone Marrow Transplant, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
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Persis has an outstanding record of translating cutting edge science into clinical benefit for patients and has played a key role in developing a world-class research programme on the BMT unit at Great Ormond Street.

His research work has focused on the use of immunotherapy to prevent infections and leukaemic relapse after stem cell transplant.

He is currently leading two major clinical trials in these approaches with two more studies planned. In parallel with this, with his colleagues on the BMT Unit at GOSH, he has pioneered novel antibody-based conditioning regimens for children with genetic diseases of the immune system to reduce the need for intensive chemotherapy before bone marrow transplant.

He has published more than 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals and attracted over £9 million in research grants.

John Anderson (co-chair)
GOSHCC Professor of Experimental Paediatric Oncology, UCL Institute of Child Health; Honorary Consultant Oncologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital
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After studying both biochemistry and medicine at undergraduate level in Oxford and Newcastle, and paediatrics training, John did his PhD in cancer genetics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London. His current research is based on modulation of the immune system to recognise cancer in both preclinical and clinical studies and with a focus on children’s solid cancers.

Nai-Kong Cheung
Medical Oncologist; Head, Neuroblastoma Program, Enid A Haupt Chair in Pediatric Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
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Nai-Kong Cheung is a paediatric oncologist specialising in immunologic approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of paediatric cancers, mainly focusing on neuroblastoma.

He and his colleagues have developed multi-modality therapies which include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, isotretinoin and targeted therapy with monoclonal antibodies. These treatment strategies have dramatically improved survival for patients with metastatic neuroblastoma. Today, more than 50 per cent of these patients treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering survive the disease, compared with fewer than 5 per cent in the 1980s.

Immunotherapy has now become the standard of care for patients with metastatic neuroblastoma.

The team is also actively involved in early clinical trials of novel therapies, including biologic agents and vaccines, natural killer cells, and combinations of these novel therapies with conventional treatments.

Stephan A Grupp
Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program; Director of Translational Research for the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Medical Director of the Stem Cell Laboratory
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Working with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Stephan Grupp is running a phase I clinical trial called CART19 in which they are using genetically modified T cells to treat patients with B cell cancers such as ALL, B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the adult disease chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and other B cell malignancies. Their initial results show some of the most powerful activity against cancer of any clinical trial testing engineered cell therapy to date.

Stephan also specialises in neuroblastoma and was part of the group that did the nationwide clinical trial establishing antibody-based immunotherapy as the new standard of care in neuroblastoma.

Outside of the clinic, Stephan is a lab scientist and stem cell transplanter. Working with a group of four institutions, he pioneered a treatment called tandem transplant — two sequential courses of high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant given six weeks apart. This clinical trial helped raise the bar for treating high-risk neuroblastoma, with the tandem treatment protocol achieving three-year survival rates of almost 60 per cent, three times the survival rate before stem cell transplants, and still the best phase 2 treatment result in the world literature. This tandem transplant approach has been tested in a nationwide phase 3 trial to prove whether it should become the national standard of care.

Daniel W Lee
Assistant Professor, Director of Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant, St. Baldrick's Foundation Scholar, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department of Pediatrics University of Virginia
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Daniel Lee was among the first to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cell therapy for children and young adults with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and B-cell lymphomas. In the clinical trial he leads, patients’ own T cells are genetically engineered with a CAR targeting the antigen CD19 resulting in remissions in the vast majority of patients with refractory or relapsed disease.

Capitalizing on the success of the CD19-CAR T cell therapy, Dr Lee’s laboratory now aims to develop other CAR-based therapies for the treatment of medulloblastoma, ependymoma, and other paediatric brain tumours.

Martin Pule
Clinical Senior Lecturer/ Honorary Consultant in Haematology, UCL Cancer Institute
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Martin Pule is a clinician scientist in the UCL Cancer Institute’s Department of Haematology. His lab is co-ordinating the Advanced T-cell Engineered for Cancer Therapy (ATECT) consortium – a five-year EU-funded research collaboration that aims to improve CAR therapy.

Martin trained at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, under Malcolm Brenner, one of the pioneers of engineered T-cell treatments and author of one of the first studies demonstrating that T cells could be taken from a patient with neuroblastoma, engineered to express tumour-specific receptors, and then administered back to the patient as a treatment.

After Baylor, Martin returned to Europe to finish his clinical training and to set up his own lab at University College London (UCL).

red-dot Day three: Influenceable causes

Denis Henshaw (co-chair)
Scientific Director, Children with Cancer UK; Senior Research Fellow in Chemistry, Emeritus Professor, University of Bristol
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Denis has acted as Scientific Director of Children with Cancer UK since retiring from the University of Bristol in 2011.

He spent much of his career investigating natural alpha-particle emitters and their retention in the human body. He showed independent correlations between levels in orthodontic teeth and traffic pollution and domestic radon levels. He also revealed a correlation between leukaemia and other childhood cancers with domestic radon exposure, supported by radon-derived alpha-dose calculations to bone marrow.

Denis is also interested in the health effects of electric and magnetic fields. His team’s research into power line corona ion emission may explain the reported increased incidence of leukaemia in adults and children, at substantial distances from power lines. He has also studied the underlying mechanisms by which magnetic fields may cause adverse health effects. His current interests centre on a range of environmental exposures that may contribute to childhood cancer risk.

Tariq Enver (co-chair)
Professor of Stem Cell Biology, Director, UCL Cancer institute; Vice Dean for Research, UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences
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Tariq Enver’s research career has been principally concerned with understanding the mechanisms by which tissue and developmental stage specific gene expression is achieved and regulated with early work focusing on the regulation of the β-globin gene clusters.

His current work deploys post-genomic technologies and mathematical modelling approaches to gain further insight into how blood stem cells are configured in molecular terms, the nature of the pathways involved in their cell fate decisions, and how these are corrupted by chimaeric transcription factors associated with human leukaemia.

Mark Miller
Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), School of Medicine, Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine; Co-Director of the UCSF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU); Director, Children’s Environmental Health Program, California Environmental Protection Agency
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Mark received his medical degree and completed a Pediatric residency at Michigan State University. He received his Masters in Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from UC Berkeley and completed a residency with the California Department of Health Services in Preventive Medicine.

He has worked with Physicians for Social Responsibility to develop the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit, a resource to assist clinicians to incorporate preventive environmental health messages into routine pediatric care. He is part of the development team and a primary author of the Story of Health, an award winning multi-media E-book on environment and health.

He is a co-investigator and Pediatric Health Specialist at the UC Berkeley, Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment (CIRCLE) where a diverse team of scientists is investigating possible environmental causes of childhood leukemia.

Mark was greatly influenced as a college student when he had the opportunity to visit Minamata, Japan as a guest of the Minamata Disease Victims’ group. Minamata was the site of one of the world’s first mass industrial poisonings, a result of mercury released from a company making material for the plastics industry. In his own pediatric practice he began to develop educational materials for patients and their families to alert them to how environmental exposures may be affecting their health.

Soterios Kyrtopoulos
Research Professor Emeritus and Director of the Laboratory of Chemical Carcinogenesis and Genetic Toxicology, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Institute of Biology, Medicinal Chemistry & Biotechnology, Athens, Greece
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Soterios Kyrtopoulos’ research interests include the role of DNA damage and repair in chemical carcinogenesis and cancer chemotherapy and the application of biomarkers of carcinogenic exposure and disease risk in population-based studies (molecular epidemiology).

During recent years, Soterios has been active in the area of toxicogenomics and the use of global profiling technologies for the improved understanding of the environmental causes of cancer as well as the formulation of the emerging concept of the exposome. He has participated in a large number of collaborative EU projects, including NewGeneris, acting as coordinator in five. The most recent EU project coordinated by him (EnviroGenomarkers - "Genomics biomarkers of environmental health"), which ended in 2013, has been included by the European Commission services among the "FP7 success stories".

Kurt Straif
Section Head, IARC Monographs, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
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Kurt Straif’s research focus is on occupational and environmental risk factors for cancer; he serves on several national and international committees charged with primary and secondary prevention of cancer.

He studied medicine at the Universities of Liège, Heidelberg and Bonn (1976-84) and philosophy (with a focus on theory of science) at the University of Bonn, Germany. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Occupational, Environmental and Social Medicine (1984-90). He obtained his PhD in Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles (2001).

He joined the Monographs section at IARC as Senior Epidemiologist in 2001 and has led the programme since 2010.