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.

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:


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

Presented by: Leonard I. Zon, MD
Date: Monday, July 13, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

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: Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

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: Thursday, July 23, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

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.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Charles G. Mullighan, MD
Date: Monday, July 27, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.


ALSF Childhood Cancer Lecture

Presented by: Adam Resnick, PhD
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Time: 1 pm (EST)

More details and registration information coming soon.

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.


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