A world-renowned cancer investigator at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will be honored by the American Association for Cancer Research as it inaugurates the first class of the Fellows of the AACR Academy.
Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Deputy Scientific Director of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, will be formally inducted into the Academy on April 5 in Washington, D.C. He is one of 106 fellows from across the country to receive the honor of induction into the AACR Academy.
The Academy was created to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. These Fellows have been selected through a rigorous peer review process that evaluates individuals on the basis of their stellar scientific achievements in cancer research.
“I am particularly honored to receive this recognition from my peers in the AACR,” said Dr. Curran. “The mission of the AACR is to prevent and cure cancer, and to be a member of the inaugural group of fellows of the AACR Academy is both inspiring and humbling.”
Dr. Curran, a past president of the AACR, studies brain development and pediatric brain tumors, with an eye toward identifying molecular changes and potential drug targets. He also investigates the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs in tumor cells and cancer models.
Specifically, Dr. Curran discovered the Fos oncogene and its binding partner from another oncogene called Jun. He later showed that these two oncogenes regulate gene expression associated with cell proliferation and differentiation, cell death and neuronal activation. This work illuminated the pathways that go awry in cancer cells, and initiated the use of Fos as a marker for activity-dependent changes in the nervous system.
Dr. Curran recently united his interests in cancer and neurobiology to study children’s brain tumors. He developed a high-incidence model of pediatric medulloblastoma that he used to demonstrate how orally-bioavailable, small molecule inhibitors of Hedgehog signaling rapidly eliminate even large tumors in mice. This work led to clinical development of inhibitors of Smoothened for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma.
Additionally, Dr. Curran considers among his greatest achievements his contribution to the development of a drug that is now in pediatric trials — Erivedge, which was recently approved by the FDA to treat cancer in adults.
Dr. Curran has been honored with numerous awards and fellowships throughout his distinguished research career. Most recently, he was named a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the The Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence that features the world’s most eminent scientists; and was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine.
In addition to serving as the Deputy Scientific Director at CHOP Research, Dr. Curran is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. He is also the associate director of Translational Genomics at the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute in Philadelphia.