The Hematological Malignancies Program (HMP) continues a long tradition of leukemia and lymphoma research in the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center (SJCCC), facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations among basic, translational and clinical research investigators. The HMP has 27 Full members, and one Associate (junior mentored) member, drawn from seven departments. The overall goal of the Program is to advance cures for children with leukemia, while minimizing acute and long-term side effects of therapy. To this end, the Program conducts multi-disciplinary research across the full spectrum of basic science, translational and clinical research: (1) Basic Science Research within the HMP aims to identify and characterize the key genetic alterations that underlie childhood hematological malignancies, and to determine the potential of these alterations to serve as therapeutic targets. This group also studies the biology of bone marrow transplantation. (2) Translational Research focuses on defining genetic determinants of disease risk, drug pharmacology; efficacy and toxicity. This group also builds on genomic and transplant discoveries made in the Basic Science Group to develop innovative tools to classify leukemia, detect minimal residual disease, and treat hematologic malignancies. (3) Clinical Research within the HMP serves as the final step to translate basic science discoveries to the clinic. To this end the group conducts large, single-institution or multi-center clinical trials to advance cures for childhood leukemia, including trials of molecular targeted and cell transplant-based therapies. Members also collaborate with experts in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program to define and mitigate treatment late effects. For many years the members of the HMP have played leading and collaborative roles in the national consortia including the NCI-Children's Oncology Group (COG). The HMP benefits from strong extramural funding that totals $14.3 million in cancer-related awards ($10.4 million peer-reviewed; $3.9 million non-peer reviewed sources). The HMP is also a highly productive Program, publishing 469 manuscripts during the last funding period (30%, intraprogrammatic; 28%, interprogrammatic).
Leukemia is the most common pediatric malignancy, accounting for one third of all childhood cancers. Despite steady increases in the overall cure rate for leukemias, significant numbers of children still suffer relapsed or refractory disease, and many have unacceptable treatment-related toxicities. Therefore, by translating basic understanding of leukemia biology to the clinic, the HMP strives to improve the use of existing therapies, discover new treatments for resistant disease, and reduce late effects of therapy.
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