Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Pediatrics

Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation Research

The research mission of the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation is to understand the causes of cancer and non-malignant blood disorders, and help develop new approaches for treatment and cures. The Lurie Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases is a hub of research in the field, having led efforts ranging from molecular genetic studies of certain childhood cancers, to the pioneering use of stem cell transplantation in treating and curing sickle cell disease, to the study of a multidrug-resistant gene in cancerous brain tumors.

Research within a national network

Membership in The Children's Oncology Group (COG) allows Lurie Children's to offer the best treatments for our patients and families. Being part of an NCI-sponsored group assures cutting-edge, state-of-the-art treatment approaches and protocols that are rigorously monitored, scientifically sound, and reviewed at many levels, including the NCI. As a member of COG, Lurie Children's has access to new agents that are unavailable elsewhere because they are experimental. Because of the hospital's involvement with COG, the members of the Division are aware of every development in cancer research, which means that patients will be among the first to undergo new treatments as they become available.

Research based locally

The Pediatric Oncology Program centers around the clinical and basic research activities of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute, and others in Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center laboratories at Northwestern University. The program's leader is Bento Soares, PhD, highly regarded investigator with distinguished careers in pediatric oncology research and cancer genomics, whose skills and expertise complement each other. The program consists of high quality clinical investigations and unifying laboratory studies centered on the themes of embryonic development, the tumor microenvironment, genomics and epigenomics and pediatric oncogenesis, minimal residual disease and the use of mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of disease. Both fundamental and translational studies are in progress. In addition, the Pediatric Oncology Program has significant clinical trials activity with innovative investigator-initiated studies at both the institutional and cooperative group level. The program has strong interactions with other basic, clinical and cancer prevention and control programs.

The Pediatric Oncology Program's scientific goals

Pediatric research efforts have been centralized, new researchers have been attracted to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and new collaborative efforts such as the following have emerged.

Cancer Focus and Rationale

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago is the major pediatric tertiary care referral center in the Chicago metropolitan area. The program has a 22-bed in-patient facility incorporating six beds for bone marrow transplantation, and a comprehensive, ambulatory pediatric cancer facility consisting of nine examining rooms, phlebotomy area and laboratory space, a reception area, waiting room and play room, satellite pharmacy, two treatment rooms and an adjacent 14-bed day hospital located together on the fourth floor of the hospital, with an additional four-bed ambulatory stem cell transplant unit. The inpatient and outpatient areas together constitute the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases and represent a multimillion dollar investment by the hospital, underscoring its commitment to the program in pediatric oncology.

Patient resources and clinical volumes are significant for a pediatric program. The number of pediatric hematology/oncology out-patient visits per year exceeds 13,700, and annual admissions to the day hospital for oncology patients are in excess of 4,800. The average number of new oncology patients seen yearly by this section is approximately 215, and approximately 360 long-term survivors of pediatric leukemia and solid tumors are under active care by members of the program.

Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute is the research arm of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, which itself is the pediatric teaching hospital for Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. The research center opened in June 1995 as a five story, 123,000 square feet building devoted entirely to basic research. The research center comprises seven research programs (Cancer Biology and Epigenomics, Developmental Biology, Experimental Therapeutics, Human Molecular Genetics, Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology and Neurobiology), six research centers (Center on Obesity Management and Prevention, Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, Pediatric Practice Research Group, Special Infectious Diseases, Center for Clinical Trials, and Falk Brain Tumor Center), and a number of shared core facilities (Pritzker Library, Microarray Facility, High Speed Cell Sorting, Biostatistics Core, Vector Core, Microscopy and Imaging Facility, Sequencing Core, Research Histology, Zebrafish Facility and more. These cores have had a positive impact on the Pediatric Oncology Research Program and the cancer center by centralizing pediatric research efforts, by attracting new researchers to Lurie Children's and by creating new collaborative opportunities within the institution.

For more specifics on the research activities being conducted in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation, please visit the division page on the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute website.