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John M. Maris, MD

John M. Maris, MD

Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Director, Center for Childhood Cancer Research

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I'm chief of the Division of Oncology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research. In addition, I direct the Pediatric Oncology Program in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

At Children's Hospital, I have the honor of leading a team of world-class clinicians and scientists dedicated to rapidly translating research about childhood cancers from the laboratory to the patient. We are one of the nation’s leaders in early phase clinical research that intently focuses on improving pediatric cancer cure rates and minimizing long-term side effects. We design studies to help benefit children who have refractory or relapsed diseases for which treatment options may be limited. As we make new discoveries, our goal is to bring them quickly to young patients.

My own specialty is neuroblastoma, an often intractable cancer that starts in young nerve cells and can be extremely aggressive. I've been interested in this disease since before medical school, when I had the opportunity to work with noted scientists Drs. Audrey Evans and Britton Chance. Under the tutelage of Dr. Garrett Brodeur I focused on the genetic basis of the disease during my training, convinced that seminal changes in patient care would stem from a full understanding of what genes are altered during the formation of this cancer.

To learn more and make a difference as quickly as possible, I developed a laboratory and translational research program at Children's Hospital to help us focus on the genetic abnormalities in hereditary and sporadic neuroblastoma. We strive to exponentially increase our understanding of this cancer and its underlying biology in order to impact clinical practice immediately- an effort we approach with urgency and a large measure of recent success. In the past few years, our team at Children's Hospital has been able to identify the main genes associated with this cancer. As a result, we moved some of these discoveries toward new therapies, a number of which are now in clinical trials. Our goal is to personalize the approach to neuroblastoma, and other pediatric cancers, by selecting treatments based on a full understanding of each individual patient’s cancer genetics.

Our neuroblastoma team has made enormous progress as we translate our basic and clinical research into improved therapies. Patients, their families and referring physicians may be confident that our outstanding clinicians and researchers provide the most comprehensive and cutting edge care possible for children with this difficult cancer.

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