I joined cc-TDI half a year after it was founded, and my first major task at the lab was to begin operations and setup at the (then new) Beaverton lab space. I arrived at an empty lab relatively uncertain I had found the proper spot, but more confident as I discovered a dozen heavy wooden tables ready to be constructed. I have truly been around since the first lab bench was set up. And to see where cc-TDI is now, with a cast and crew of fantastic and daring researchers, a community of families and advocates who keep us motivated and moving, and a growing list of clinical trials and promising agents…. it’s pretty astounding.
I’m proud to serve the pediatric cancer community in all my roles as a pediatric cancer research. While I’m always working to advance the bioinformatics analysis pipelines at cc-TDI, my current research is focused on the rare and deadly pediatric brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. I recently received a grant from the Matthew Larson Foundation to study the role of two interesting and novel targets in DIPG: IL13RA2 and HAS2. IL13RA2 is an immuno target highly expressed in DIPG cells, but absent in normal brain cells, creating a unique “flag” for DIPG. My goal is to exploit the flag as a druggable target to kill DIPG cells while leaving normal brain cells alone; while this approach is beneficial for any cancer type, DIPG is a disease where such an approach is most desperately needed as it is essentially inoperable and does not respond meaningfully to radiation or chemotherapy. I had the privilege to be part of the first international DIPG consortium project, and I feel immensely proud to continue finding new treatments for this terrible disease. Beyond my research project, I love to work with my fellow colleagues on their projects as well. My knowledge in bioinformatics means I play a small (or large!) role in most projects, and I immensely enjoy working alongside all the researchers at cc-TDI.
And no blog post is complete without a shout out to my puppy, Stormy. It’s actually his birthday today, so I owe him a nice steak.