Seattle Children’s Cancer Research Leadership
Seattle Children’s physician-scientists are leaders in national and global research groups working to create new therapies for children with cancer and to reduce long-term effects of cancer and its treatments. Our research leadership means your care team has the widest possible range of clinical trials to consider when recommending options for your child.
Seattle Children’s is a founding member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the largest pediatric oncology consortium in the world. Since March 2020, Seattle Children’s oncologist Dr. Doug Hawkins has led the COG as its group chair. Hawkins, a national expert on bone and soft tissue cancers, has treated children and teens at Seattle Children’s since 1996.
More than 100 COG clinical trials are active at Seattle Children’s at any given time. We have more open COG treatment trials than 96% of pediatric academic medical centers.
Thanks to researchers working together, the outlook for children with cancer has improved dramatically. Fifty years ago, children’s cancer was virtually incurable. Today, the combined 5-year survival rate for all cancers is 80%. (See Seattle Children's statistics and outcomes.)
Seattle Children’s doctors and researchers play key roles in COG’s Pediatric Early Phase-Clinical Trial Network and other groups that focus on transforming breakthroughs in the lab into clinical trials quickly and safely. As always, our goal is to improve care and cure for children, teens and young adults with cancer.
Dr. Mignon Loh, who leads Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, is chair of COG’s Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Committee. Loh is also center director for the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research and chief of Seattle Children’s Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy.
Her research focuses on how and why leukemia progresses, as well as making genomics discoveries in the lab that translate into new and better diagnostics and therapeutics for children, teens and young adults with leukemia.
Dr. Todd Cooper, section chief of Pediatric Oncology at Seattle Children’s and director of our Leukemia and Lymphoma Program and our High-Risk Leukemia Program, chairs the COG Relapsed AML Committee. He also holds leading roles in:
- The COG Myeloid Disease Committee, as vice chair
- A North American COG phase 3 study for children newly diagnosed with AML
- The Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative, which aims to transform treatment by targeting the specific genetic changes that drive different forms of leukemia
Dr. Soheil Meshinchi’s roles include:
- Chair of the COG Myeloid Disease Biology Committee.
- Director of the COG AML reference laboratory.
- Co-chair of the COG Myeloid Disease Committee.
- Biology chair of the Pediatric Acute Leukemia (PedAL) Initiative.
- Principal investigator for the TARGET AML Initiative to define genetic and other factors that cause AML and allow it to grow and spread. The project is a joint effort by the COG and the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Adam Lamble leads a national phase 1 clinical trial through COG that is testing a new medicine for relapsed or refractory AML.
Dr. Katherine Tarlock is involved in COG clinical trials for children with newly diagnosed AML, as well as targeted therapies in children with relapsed AML. She works in the Meshinchi lab to identify genetic changes in AML that can lead to new therapies. Learn more about the AML lab research at Seattle Children’s.
The Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia & Lymphoma (TACL) consortium focuses on testing new drugs for childhood leukemia and lymphoma. The TACL approach is to integrate translational laboratory research with early phase clinical trials to speed the progress of creating new therapies for children with cancer.
- Dr. Adam Lamble leads a TACL clinical trial of tagraxofusp, a therapy that targets the CD123 receptor on cells of certain cancers of the blood, bone marrow and immune system. These CD123-positive cancers include acute myeloid leukemia (AML), B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma and blastic plasmacytoid dendritic neoplasm (BPDCN). The TACL clinical trial is studying the use of tagraxofusp, with and without chemotherapy, to treat young people with such cancers. Dr. Todd Cooper is vice chair of the trial.
The Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) engages researchers across the globe to move discoveries from the lab quickly and safely into clinical trials. The goal is to improve survival and quality of life for children and young adults with tumors of the central nervous system (CNS).
- Sarah Leary is the principal investigator (PI) for PNOC clinical trials at Seattle Children’s.
- Nicholas Alexander Vitanza is co-PI.
- Leary also leads the PNOC012 clinical trial of a tumor-targeting fluorescent imaging agent (tozuleristide) that aims to improve surgical outcomes in children with brain tumors.
- In addition, Leary is vice chair of COG’s CNS tumor committee.
Seattle Children’s is the only center in the Pacific Northwest that belongs to NANT (New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy). NANT works to find new treatments for patients with neuroblastoma that is not well controlled by treatment or that comes back.
- Julie Park is the medical director of NANT.
- Navin Pinto is the lead investigator of NANT clinical trials at Seattle Children’s.
As the immediate past chair of the COG Neuroblastoma Scientific Committee, Dr. Julie Park provided leadership for developing neuroblastoma clinical research within COG. She led a previous national COG trial for high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare but aggressive form of childhood cancer. As a result of that trial, treatment for children with high-risk neuroblastoma has changed across North America.
Dr. Eric Chow chairs the COG Outcomes and Survivorship Committee. He is nationally known as an expert in the long-term effects faced by survivors of childhood cancer. Chow is medical director of our Cancer Survivor Program.
His research aims to identify risk factors or early signs of aftereffects of treatment, including heart disease, additional cancers and learning problems. Finding people at risk early could mean starting care to prevent or lessen these late effects.
Before his election as COG leader, Dr. Doug Hawkins chaired the COG Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee. In that role, he oversaw biology studies and clinical trials for rhabdomyosarcoma and other soft tissue sarcomas across North America.
He has led COG clinical trials for Ewing sarcoma and for rhabdomyosarcoma, both common childhood cancers. One rhabdomyosarcoma study that he chaired identified a therapy that is as effective as the prior standard treatment, but with fewer harmful side effects.
Ways to Help
Donations from people like you help researchers pursue ideas that could lead to lifesaving treatments for kids with cancer.
“Things like personalized medicine and using the immune system to fight cancer aren’t a futuristic vision anymore. We’re getting closer to the day when some patients may need far less chemotherapy and radiation.”