The Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association (ANRA) recently presented its highest honor to pediatric oncologist Garrett M. Brodeur, MD, of the Cancer Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Brodeur received the ANRA Lifetime Achievement Award at the association’s international meeting. The award singles out a researcher who has achieved worldwide scientific prominence in investigating neuroblastoma over the course of an exceptional career.
The most common solid tumor of childhood, neuroblastoma attacks the peripheral nervous system, typically appearing as a tumor in a child’s abdomen or chest. Neuroblastoma varies greatly in severity, ranging from forms that spontaneously disappear to high-risk subtypes that are difficult to cure. Because of this variability, researchers have sought ways to predict the course of disease to better select the most appropriate treatment for each patient.
Over his career, Dr. Brodeur has focused on identifying the genes, proteins, and biological pathways that give rise to neuroblastoma and drive its clinical behavior. He has also built on this knowledge to help develop more effective and less toxic treatments for children.
In the 1980s, Dr. Brodeur showed some neuroblastoma cells developed multiple copies of the MYCN gene, which identified a high-risk subtype of neuroblastoma, necessitating more aggressive treatment. This discovery ushered in the current era of genomic analysis of tumors, both in adult and pediatric oncology. Profiling specific molecular alterations in a specific patient’s tumor helps guide oncologists toward the most appropriate treatment.
Dr. Brodeur and his fellow colleagues also discovered important neuroblastoma-related genetic changes. He collaborated with other CHOP researchers who identified the ALK gene as the gene responsible for most cases of hereditary neuroblastoma.
Another major focus of his research regards the role of TRK receptor tyrosine kinases, which control the clinical behavior of neuroblastomas. His work led to a clinical trial with a novel drug that selectively blocks these signals. He is now working on the second generation of such drugs, as well as on nanoparticle delivery systems to treat patients with less abrasive treatments.
Dr. Brodeur has been a member of the CHOP medical staff since 1993 and holds the Audrey E. Evans Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology at the Hospital. He is also a professor of Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is an associate director of the Abramson Cancer Center. Last year, Dr. Brodeur received the prestigious Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
To read more about Dr. Brodeur’s award, see the full press release.