The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology faculty and research staff have active programs in clinical, health services, epidemiological, and laboratory research. Researchers in the section also collaborate with investigators throughout the Cancer Center and the University to drive forward basic scientific discoveries in the areas of DNA repair, cancer immunology, bone marrow failure and cancer genetics. Moreover, researchers in the section work to translate these discoveries into innovative, biomarker-driven clinical trials for children with cancer, including Phase 1 trials.
All members of the faculty participate in clinical research. Dr. Farzana Pashankar currently leads Yale's participation in the Children's Oncology Group (COG), an international pediatric oncology group that engages in cooperative group clinical trials. She is actively involved within the rare tumor, germ cell tumor, and adolescent and young adult committees. Dr. Pashankar also directs our Sickle Cell Disease Program and conducts clinical trials in childhood cancer and sickle cell anemia.
Dr. Prasanna Ananth conducts research under the auspices of the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center. Her family-centered research seeks to evaluate and enhance end-of-life care quality for children with cancer (https://medicine.yale.edu/lab/pace/). Her work is supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the National Palliative Care Research Center, the NCCN Foundation, and the Robert E. Leet and Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust. Find her on Twitter: @PJAnanthMD
Dr. Juan Vasquez is a physician-scientist leading a laboratory-based research program focused on the intersection between DNA repair, tumor metabolism and tumor immunology. Dr. Vasquez's research has provided new insights into the immunosuppressive mechanisms of the tumor microenvironment in childhood glioma and leukemia. Moreover, his work has demonstrated the immunogenicity of shared tumor antigens such as SOX2 and common oncogenic mutations such BRAFV600E in glioma, revealing alternative immunotherapy targets in tumors with a typically low number of neoantigens. He is also leading research to identify strategies to exploit DNA repair defects in childhood tumors for therapeutic gain and to sensitize tumors to immunotherapy.
Dr. Rozalyn Rodwin's research is focused on optimizing the health and quality of life of childhood cancer survivors. She is particularly interested in neuromuscular late effects of cancer therapy and has investigated this outcome in survivors from the HEROS program at Yale, as well as in national survivorship cohorts. Her current projects aim to develop new screening methods to identify survivors at risk for neuromuscular late effects from their cancer therapy so that they can benefit from available interventions.
Dr. Vidya Puthenpura's research delves into disparities in outcomes and survival within the pediatric, adolescent, and young adult oncology population due to race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. More specifically, she is interested in the impact of social determinants of health on outcome disparities in this population, and she is currently working on developing a risk stratification tool to enable early identification of patients requiring resources to navigate oncology therapy and receive optimized supportive care. Identification of challenges early on will enable providers to intervene well in advance and provide tailored resources and connections to community stakeholders to support these patients through their therapies.
Dr. Asher Marks, director of our Adolescent and Young Adult program has a clinic heavily focused on the psycho-social support of this unique patient population, in which support groups were a must. Due to the active lives of these patients, however, participation was always limited. A solution that is now being explored in the context of a formal clinical trial is through cutting edge virtual reality. Through this modality, our patients can participate in support groups through a customized avatar from any location with WiFi access.