Childhood Cancer

Virtual Childhood Cancer Lecture Series

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) presents The Virtual Childhood Cancer Lecture Series, featuring educational presentations by experts in the field. These free lectures will be of interest to scientists, especially those involved in childhood cancer research and to childhood cancer advocates. Each lecture will feature a 30-60 minute webinar which will include a Q&A period, with esteemed researchers, scientists, physicians and professors who will speak about an interesting topic.

Sign up for email announcements regarding future lectures here.

If you have any questions about the lecture series, or if there is a topic you would like to hear about, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

Register for our upcoming free lectures:


Transforming the Way Researchers Share Data - Lessons from the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons

Presented by: Samuel Volchenboum, MD, PhD
Date: Thursday, August 13, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Learn about the current state of pediatric cancer research that inspired the creation of the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons (PCDC).
  • Understand how the PCDC fosters consensus-based decision-making and data sharing through its structure and governance.
  • Gain insights into how the PCDC fits into the Cancer Research Data Commons ecosystem and WHO Initiative for Childhood Cancer.

Samuel Volchenboum, MD, PhD is a pediatric oncologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. He is Dean for Master’s Education and the Director of the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons. His group develops ways to collect, harmonize, and share data, focusing on building international consensus for data standards. His team also develops novel ways to present data to researchers, allowing users to search and visualize data and make connections to other data sources.


Why Do Young People Get Cancer? PGBD5 and Other Developmental Mutators

Presented by: Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD
Date: Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Review causes of somatic mutations in developing tissues.
  • Define domesticated DNA transposases and their evolutionary origins and physiologic functions.
  • Outline current and future research to translate these insights into improved therapies for patients.

Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD is Associate Member at the Sloan Kettering Institute and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, and Physiology & Biophysics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and pediatric oncologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His research, funded by the ALSF, has led to new clinical trials for children and adults with high-risk leukemias and solid tumors.


Cloak and Dagger: How Pediatric Brain Tumors Hide from the Immune System (And What We Can Do About It)

Presented by: Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD
Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • How T cells recognize and attack brain tumors.
  • The tricks tumors use to avoid being recognized.
  • Strategies we can use to circumvent these tricks and promote tumor rejection.

Robert J. Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Director of the Clayes Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine.  His research focuses on understanding the origins and pathogenesis of the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma, and on developing safer and more effective therapies for the disease.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Nada Jabado, MD, PhD
Date: Monday, August 31, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Charles Gawad, MD, PhD
Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Robbie Majzner, MD
Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Mariella Filbin, MD, PhD
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Cigall Kadoch, PhD
Date: Monday, September 28, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.

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Watch previous lectures

Predisposition in Childhood Cancer

Presented by: Garrett Brodeur, MD
Date presented: May 1, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

After this lecture, participants will:

  • Know the features that identify a child/adolescent who is genetically disposed to get cancer (with or without a cancer at the time of evaluation).
  • Understand the importance of cancer surveillance in individuals who are genetically predisposed to get cancer.
  • Know the 5 most common cancers that occur in individuals with Li-Fraumeni syndrome under the age of 20.

Dr. Brodeur is the Director of the Cancer Predisposition Program at CHOP and Associate Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn. He has a special interest in the molecular biology, genetics and targeted therapy of neuroblastoma. Dr. Brodeur is also a member of ALSF’s Scientific Advisory Board.


Precision Immunoncology for Childhood Cancers: It Starts with Optimal Targets

Presented by: John Maris, MD
Date Presented: Wednesday, May 13, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

After this lecture, participants will:

  • Understand strategies for immunotherapy target discovery and validation.
  • Understand what makes an “optimal” immunotherapeutic target.
  • Understand how one chooses an immunotherapeutic platform to move forward to preclinical and clinical development.

John Maris, MD is the Giulio D’Angio Professor of Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is a physician-scientist who has focused for over three decades on the childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, with dual goals of improving patient outcomes and using the disease as a model to understand cancer in general. His group has discovered all known neuroblastoma susceptibility genes and has also identified many of the oncogenic drivers of the disease. Dr. Maris has steadfastly sought to translate these discoveries to the clinic using precision medicine approaches.


Pediatric Brain Cancers as Epigenetic Diseases

Presented by: Stephen C. Mack, PhD 
Date Presented: Wednesday, May 13, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Learn about the contribution of chromatin biology to pediatric brain tumorigenesis.
  • Understand therapeutic strategies in epigenetically altered cancers.
  • Learn about new technologies in mapping epigenetic landscapes of cancer.

Stephen C. Mack, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. His team studies a variety of high-risk brain tumors to understand the role of deregulated epigenomes as drivers of cancer.


Zebrafish Modeling of Pediatric Sarcoma

Presented by: Genevieve Kendall, PhD
Date Presented: Friday, May 22, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

After this lecture, participants will:

  • Understand advances made in generating new animal models of fusion-oncogene driven pediatric sarcomas and their potential for therapeutic applications.
  • Summarize the value of applying zebrafish rhabdomyosarcoma models for drug discovery, functional genomics, and personalized medicine.
  • Understand how fusion-oncogenes co-opt developmental programs for tumorigenesis.

Genevieve C. Kendall, PhD, is a principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases and an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Kendall received her bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at Texas Tech University where she was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellow. She obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before performing her postdoctoral studies focused on pediatric oncology with Dr. James Amatruda at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Kendall’s research is focused on developing translational models of pediatric sarcomas that delineate the biology of the disease with the goal of identifying new therapeutic opportunities.


Patient-Derived Laboratory Models of Childhood Cancer

Presented by: Patrick Reynolds, MD, PhD
Date Presented: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

After this lecture, participants will:

  • Understand what models are currently in the ALSF/COG repository and examples of studies that have been done with those models.
  • Learn about efforts to establish and characterize additional models.
  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages of various models and the potential for negative impact of poor model choice on experimental results.

Dr. Reynolds grew up in El Paso, TX, received his BA in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin, his MD from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, TX, his PhD (Cell Biology) from UT Austin, and his pediatrics training at the National Naval Medical Center. His postdoctoral fellowship was in cancer immunology at UT Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, TX. He holds the rank of Commander, US Navy (retired). He is currently the Cancer Center Director for the School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and is Director of the South Plains Oncology Consortium and the ALSF/COG Childhood Cancer Repository.


Social Difficulties in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors

Presented by: Matthew C. Hocking, PhD
Date Presented: Friday, June 26, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

After this lecture, participants will:

  • Be able to summarize what is known and unknown about the social difficulties of pediatric brain tumor survivors.
  • Understand the role of two key social information processes in the social functioning in pediatric brain tumor survivors.
  • Identify areas of diminished neural activity in the social brain of pediatric brain tumor survivors during social processing.

Matthew C. Hocking, PhD is a pediatric psychologist who works with the Division of Oncology at CHOP and is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hocking’s research aims to better understand the neurodevelopmental consequences of having survived childhood cancer or having neurofibromatosis type 1, to identify those who are most at risk for poor outcomes, and to intervene in some way in order to improve quality of life.


Childhood Cancer Predisposition in the Genomics Era

Presented by: Sharon E. Plon, MD, PhD
Date Presented: Monday, June 29, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Learn about the overall proportion of childhood cancer patients that have germline susceptibility
  • Understand the specific relationships between tumor histopathology and the likelihood of identifying a variant in cancer susceptibility genes
  • Learn about the unexpected relationship between previously identified adult cancer susceptibility genes and childhood cancer

Sharon E. Plon, MD, PhD is a Professor at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. She has worked on several collaborative clinical studies that investigated the development and implementation of clinical genomic tests (germline and tumor) for pediatric cancer projects. Of note, her work in germline cancer genomics was sparked by being awarded an ALSF Innovation Award.


On the Way to Pediatric Leukemia - Following Clonal Dynamics with Cellular Barcoding

Presented by: Leonard I. Zon, MD
Date Presented: Monday, July 13, 2020

View on YouTube

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Understand clonal dynamics in blood stem cells
  • Define new techniques for cellular barcoding
  • Examine preleukemic states for clonal dynamics

Dr. Zon is the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatric Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Zon received his B.S. in chemistry and natural sciences from Muhlenberg College (1979) and his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College (1983).  He subsequently did an internal medicine residency at New England Deaconess Hospital (1986) and a fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (1989). His postdoctoral research was in Stuart Orkin’s laboratory (1990).  Dr. Zon is internationally recognized for his pioneering work in stem cell biology and cancer genetics. He has been the preeminent figure in establishing zebrafish as an invaluable genetic model for the study of the blood and hematopoietic development.  He is founder and former president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and chair of the Executive Committee of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.  In 2005, he completed a term as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.  That same year, Dr. Zon was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.   In 2008, Dr. Zon was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  In 2010, Dr. Zon was awarded the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize from American Society of Hematology.  In 2013, Dr. Zon received the ISEH Donald Metcalf Lecture Award.  Other recent awards include the 2014 Boston Children’s Hospital Post-Doctoral Association Mentoring Award and the National Cancer Institute’s Alfred G. Knudson Award (2015).


An Introduction to Machine Learning and Deep Learning for Biology and Medicine

Presented by: Casey S. Greene, PhD
Date Presented: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Describe a conceptual difference between classical machine learning techniques and deep learning.
  • Describe the difference between supervised and unsupervised machine learning.
  • Identify at least two major challenges that biomedical data, and in particular pediatric cancer data, pose for the successful application of deep learning.

Casey S. Greene, PhD is an Associate Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Director of the Childhood Cancer Data Lab for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. His research focuses on harnessing large collections of biomedical data to discover new, physiologically-relevant patterns.


Unsupervised Transfer Learning for Rare Disease Transcriptomics

Presented by: Jaclyn N. Taroni, PhD
Date Presented: Thursday, July 23, 2020

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Learn about extracting biologically relevant patterns from high-throughput biomedical data
  • Understand obstacles to using data-intensive machine learning techniques in pediatric cancer research
  • Learn about leveraging large, arbitrary collections of transcriptomic data to study rare diseases such as pediatric cancers

Jaclyn N. Taroni, PhD is the Principal Data Scientist at the Childhood Cancer Data Lab of Alex's Lemonade Stand. Her team develops robust and reusable workflows to study pediatric cancer and trains pediatric cancer researchers to better analyze their own data.


The Many Genomic Roads to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Presented by: Charles Mullighan, MD
Date: Monday, July 27, 2020

Lecture Details & Bio

Upon completion of this lecture, participants will:

  • Understand the current molecular subtypes of ALL.
  • Understand the diversity of genetic alterations that drive leukemogenesis.
  • Learn diagnostic and therapeutic implications of the revised taxonomy of ALL.

Charles Mullighan, MD is a member of the Department of Pathology, co-leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program, Deputy Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of the Biorepository at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He gained his medical degree from the University of Adelaide, Australia, undertook doctoral studies in immunogenetics in Oxford, and specialist training in hematology and hematopathology at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide. He joined St. Jude as a postdoctoral fellow in 2004, and joined faculty in 2008.
 
His research examines the genetic determinants of leukemogenesis and treatment response in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and high risk leukemias. His work has defined the genetic pathogenesis of multiple new subtypes of ALL, and several genetic alterations that have entered the clinic as new diagnostic and therapeutic targets. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, the Meyenburg Prize for Cancer Research and the American Society of Hematology Dameshek Prize.


The Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Initiative: New Models of Accelerated Discovery and Translation

Presented by: Adam Resnick, PhD
Date Presented: Thursday, July 30, 2020

Lecture Details & Bio

During this lecture, participants will:

  • Learn about the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Initiative of the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium approach to accelerated discovery via open science.
  • Learn about the available data resources and analyses associated with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Initiative
  • Learn about how such approaches can provide for new clinical translation and biologically based therapies for pediatric brain tumors.

Adam Resnick is the Director of Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), responsible for leading a multidisciplinary team to build and support a scalable, patient-focused healthcare and educational discovery ecosystem on behalf of all children. He is also responsible for all scientific and fiscal responsibility for projects within the Center, including center leadership, supervision of bioinformatics, genomics, visualization tools and software development for the data resource portal shared by various center initiatives.
 
Adam’s research is focused on defining the cell signaling mechanisms of oncogenesis and tumor progression in brain tumors. His research lab studies cell signaling cascades and their alterations in pediatric brain tumors to elucidate the molecular and genetic underpinnings of each tumor to identify and develop targeted therapies. Adam serves as Scientific Chair for several consortia-based efforts, including the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) and Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), which include more than 20 pediatric hospitals across the globe.
 
Adam earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and English & Literature from the University of Florida before completing a PhD in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.


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