Research Interests

Jeffrey Allen, M.D.

We maintain a large clinical data base on our patients with brain and spinal cord tumors which facilitates the study of the natural history of uncommon childhood tumors.

We also conduct institutional and cooperative group clinical trials to identify more effective and safer ways of controlling both malignant and slower growing primary brain and spinal cord tumors. We are also interested in identifying and remedying some of the late effects of therapy such as cognitive impairments and neuro-endocrine deficiencies.

We have initiated collaborations with basic scientists both at NYU and elsewhere to explore more precise molecular methods of categorizing childhood brain tumors, identifying new and recognized tumor oncogenes and what molecular events may predispose a tumor to infiltrate normal brain and metastasize.

Lastly, we maintain a large Tumor Bank which collects stores and distributes aliquots of tumor tissue to our research collaborators.

 

Teena Bhatla, M.D.

My major research interest is the development of novel treatments for relapsed childhood leukemia, given the poor outcome of children treated with conventional approaches such as stem cell transplantation.

As the director of the pediatric hematologic malignancies program, I oversee the treatment of all pediatric leukemia and lymphoma patients at NYU Langone. As a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, I am involved in designing and implementing clinical trials for patients with relapsed and refractory leukemia.

I have specifically focused my research career on investigating the epigenetic mechanisms in the evolution of relapsed clones. My goal is to discover novel agents that could potentially alter the genetic fingerprint of resistant leukemic blasts and render them susceptible to chemotherapy. My research is highly translational and I use banked samples from patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

 

William Carroll, M.D.

Our laboratory is focused on two major challenges facing children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

In our laboratory we focus on two major challenges facing children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). First, in spite of dramatic improvements in outcome, one in five children will suffer a relapse and then have a poor prognosis. Second, the physical and emotional costs of therapy for those who are cured are high, with short- and long-term side effects.

Therefore, we seek to understand mechanisms of drug resistance and to identify pathways unique to the cancer cell that can serve as targets for more effective, less toxic therapeutic approaches.

We use modern genomic and epigenomic methods to understand the genesis and evolution of ALL that leads to treatment failure. We have shown that resistant cancer cells acquire novel mutations that are responsible for drug resistance. In some cases, a small clone emerges through the selective effect of chemotherapy in a model reminiscent of Darwinian evolution. However, in other cases, such mutations may have been acquired during the course of treatment. Through years of effort we have created a “genetic fingerprint” of resistant cells and have used this information to pilot novel methods to prevent and treat relapse.

Most recently we have focused on the epigenome—molecular mechanisms that control gene activity that are not related to the DNA sequence itself. We have shown that DNA modifications, including methylation and histone changes, also allow the cancer cell to overcome therapy. The availability of new agents that target these epigenetic changes may allow for more effective treatment of relapsed disease and we are exploring this approach in laboratory models.

Our laboratory encompasses the full spectrum of investigation involving basic bench research, highly translational efforts using samples from patients, and clinical trials in children with ALL.

 

Sharon Gardner, M.D.

My specific interests include the treatment of children with malignant brain tumors and the use of high dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue in children with a variety of malignancies.

As the Director of the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Program I oversee all of the hematopoietic stem cell transplants performed in pediatric patients at NYU. My primary research interests include therapy for patients with malignant brain tumors.

I have focused on the use of high dose chemotherapy in order to reduce and in some cases eliminate the use of radiation therapy particularly in very young children newly diagnosed with brain tumors and older patients with recurrent brain tumors for whom irradiation is not a curative option.

I have written many of these studies which were initially piloted as limited institution studies and subsequently became national cooperative group trials.

In addition to clinical trials in patients with brain tumors, I am also involved in high dose chemotherapy trials in patients with recurrent Hodgkin's Disease and Ewings' sarcoma.

I am currently a member of the supportive care committee of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium. Through this committee, I am actively involved in decreasing the toxicity associated with high dose chemotherapy through early detection of potential complications as well as through the development of therapies to decrease the side effects often associated with this treatment.

I am currently leading a study in the consortium involving the use of enteral feeds during high dose chemotherapy in order to decrease the toxicity associated with parenteral nutrition.

As a member of the Children's Oncology Group Transplant Steering Committee I am involved with developing policies and procedures for performing hematopoietic transplants in children across the country as well as developing new clinical trials.

 

Linda Granowetter, M.D.

My specific interests include the treatment of children with malignant bone and soft tissues sarcomas. I am actively involved with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), an international consortium of pediatric oncology centers. As a member of the Ewing Sarcoma committee, I have been involved in the design and implementation of clinical research trials for the treatment of Ewing Sarcoma, and I have led an international trial of high dose therapy for children and adolescents for the COG group. I am the author of many peer reviewed journal articles and reviews in this area.
 
In addition to clinical trials in patients with bone sarcomas, I am very interested in palliative care: primarily symptom management and family support for children and young adults and their families facing life threatening illnesses. I serve as the medical director of the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at NYU Langone. Our primary goal is family and patient support. It is important to say that palliative care is not only hospice or end of life care! I have published research in this area in the forms of books and peer reviewed articles on palliative care, and our group here is continuing research into family perceptions of palliative care and symptom management. I also serve as vice-chair of the ethics committee for the NYU-Langone community.