A key objective for the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics (DEB) is to provide biostatistical support to maximize the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute’s (Greehey CCRI) research productivity. As the Greehey CCRI gains new research faculty, the biostatistics needs will grow.
Over the past three decades, great strides have been made in improving the survival of childhood cancer. Clinical research as shifted focus from improving survival to improving the quality of survival, especially for malignancies, where we have achieved very high survival rates.
The development of cancer involves a complex multi-step succession of molecular events involving the acquisition of mutations in proto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and other genes that control, directly or indirectly, cell proliferation, cell cycle control, and cell death.
Comparatively small numbers of children with cancer limit the definitive data from which to decide what, if any, benefit a novel anticancer agent may have in children. Hence, there is a need for pre-clinical models of childhood cancer to screen new agents’ potential activity in transgenic or xenograft animal and cell culture models.
Related to the fundamental basic research in molecular oncogenesis, we plan to establish a component of a larger trans-disciplinary program in hematologic malignancies at Greehey Children Cancer Research Institute.
The goal of the molecular oncogenesis and cancer genetics programs of the Greehey CCRI is to identify and characterize the genes, gene products, and pathways involved in pediatric cancers, recognizing that the study of pediatric cancer models has relevance to the problem of cancer in general.
The Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) is a comprehensive program to systematically evaluate new agents against childhood solid tumor and leukemia models. The PPTP is supported through an NCI research contract to The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with Dr. Peter Houghton as the Principal Investigator.
As part of their professional curriculum, students in the Doctor of Optometry program learn to conduct comprehensive pediatric eye exams and assess retinoblastoma. Optometry students from the Summer Fellowship Training Program at the Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIW) participate in a collaborative research project with the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute that aims to investigate the molecular basis of retinoblastoma.
In collaboration with the Kids With Cancer Foundation of Vietnam, our team members evaluated institutional capabilities and any possible impact of program implementation. We found that in southern Vietnam, cancer survival was estimated as low as 5% compared to more than 90% survival for childhood ALL in the USA. Our current efforts focus on exposing and educating Vietnamese physicians to new techniques of diagnosis and management.