Home Childhood Cancer Research Seminar Series


Steph Forman


Virtual seminar


15 - 18 Feb 2021


9:00 am - 10:00 am
Centre for Cancer Research cell image

Childhood Cancer Research Seminar Series

The Childhood Cancer Research Seminar Series is a series of virtual talks by international paediatric cancer researchers, hosted by Hudson Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne, Australia) from 15-18 February 2021.

The seminar series will commence on Monday, 15 February 2021, to coincide with International Childhood Cancer Day.

Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19 on travel, this seminar series is being held in lieu of Hudson Institute’s annual Childhood Cancer Research Symposium.

Webinar link | Password 730129 (same link and password for all days)

Monday, 15 February @ 9am–10am AEDT

Dr Peter Dirks
Chief, Division of Neurosurgery; Professor, Departments of Surgery and Molecular Genetics; Senior Scientist, Developmental Biology Program, Research Institute
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) (Canada)

Seminar title: Brain Tumours arise from aberrant developmental and regenerative programs

Dr Peter Dirks is Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto. He obtained an MD from Queen’s University, and did both PhD and neurosurgery residency training at the University of Toronto. He is a Senior Scientist in the Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology in the SickKids Research Institute and he holds a Graduate School appointment at the in the Department of Molecular Genetics. His team was the first to identify cancer stem cells in human primary brain tumours and his ongoing research is focused on understanding the origins and growth mechanisms of primary brain tumours of children and adults.

Tuesday, 16 February @ 9am-10am AEDT

Dr Michelle Monje Deisseroth
Associate Professor of Neurology, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery, Pathology, Psychiatry and Pediatrics; Stanford Medicine Faculty Scholar
Stanford University (USA)

Seminar title: Neuron-glial interactions in the childhood nervous system: from cognition to cancer

Dr Michelle Monje Deisseroth, MD, PhD joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Oncology. Following her undergraduate degree in biology at Vassar College, Dr Monje Deisseroth received her MD and PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. She then completed neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School program. She subsequently returned to Stanford for a clinical fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology and a postdoctoral fellowship. The scope of her research program encompasses the molecular determinants of neural precursor cell fate, neuronal-glial interactions, and the role of neural precursor cells in oncogenesis and repair mechanisms. As a practicing neurologist and neuro-oncologist, Dr Monje Deisseroth is dedicated to understanding the neurodevelopmental origins of pediatric brain tumors and the neurological consequences of cancer treatment.

Wednesday, 17 February @ 9am–10am AEDT

Dr Kimberly Stegmaier
Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Ted Williams Chair and Vice Chair of Pediatric Oncology Research
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (USA)

Seminar title: A First-generation Pediatric Cancer Dependency Map

Dr Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the Ted Williams Chair at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has advanced the application of genomics to drug and protein target discovery for pediatric malignancies. She is the Vice Chair for Pediatric Oncology Research, Co-director of the Pediatric Hematologic Malignancy Program, and an attending physician providing clinical care in Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr Stegmaier is also an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. She has served as a Council Member with the Society for Pediatric Research from 2013-2016 and now as the Chair for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Pediatric Cancer Working Group. Dr Stegmaier is the recipient of numerous awards, such as the Joanne Levy, MD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement from the American Society of Hematology, the Society for Pediatric Research Young Investigator Award, a Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Innovative Research Grant, the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School, the 2016 E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics, an NCI Outstanding Investigator R35 Award, and the 2017 St. Baldrick’s Foundation Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award.  Dr. Stegmaier received her undergraduate degree from Duke University where she graduated valedictorian, medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and trained in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Thursday, 18 February @ 9am–10am AEDT

Dr Rob Wechsler-Reya
Director, Tumor Initiation & Maintenance Program; Professor, NCI-Designated Cancer Centre
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (USA)

Seminar title: Less Heat, More Light: Discovering Smarter Therapies for Pediatric Brain Tumors

Dr Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD is Professor and Director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program at the Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) Medical Discovery Institute. His research focuses on the signals that control growth and differentiation in the cerebellum, and how these signals are dysregulated in the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. His lab’s contributions include demonstrating the importance of Sonic hedgehog as a mitogen for neuronal precursors; discovering a novel population of stem cells in the developing cerebellum; demonstrating that both neuronal precursors and stem cells can serve as cells of origin for medulloblastoma; and identifying cancer stem cells that are critical for tumor propagation of tumors. Most recently, they have uncovered a mechanism by which medulloblastoma cells evade the immune system, and a therapy that overcomes evasion and sensitizes tumor cells to immune checkpoint inhibitors. His lab has developed multiple genetically engineered mouse models and patient-derived xenograft models of medulloblastoma, and is using them to test novel approaches to therapy. In addition to his position at SBP, Dr Wechsler-Reya is Director of the Clayes Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics at the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. There he works with a team of physicians and scientists to capture genomic, transcriptomic, epigenetic and functional data from pediatric brain tumor patients, and uses this information to improve diagnosis and treatment.

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