Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics

The current areas of research for the Pediatric Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics include; DNA repair, epigenetics, signaling pathways, oncoproteins, tumor suppressors, angiogenesis, and development of novel therapeutics, tumor-microenvironment interactions and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). The goal of the program is to focus on translating the basic science understanding of genes and protein mechanisms into new therapeutic modalities, develop better models (3D model development; orthotopic models) for tumor studies, and greater understanding of tumor biology. Emphasis is on all types of pediatric cancers, with a heavy focus on solid pediatric tumors (GBM, neuroblastoma and other relapsed/refractory disease) as well as sarcomas (osteosarcoma and rhadbomyosarcoma). These areas of focus are critical in order to effectively design and perform the basic and preclinical studies which facilitate clinical trials as well as understanding mechanism of the diseases.

The research falls into the following focus areas:

  • New Cancer Therapy Program in Pediatrics including drug development and effectiveness of new agents-translational research for solid tumors. Included in these studies are sarcomas such as osteosarcoma.

  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains as a cancer with no cure. In pediatric patients 15 years of age or younger, malignant brain tumors represent approximately 22% of all pediatric cancers and are associated with the most significant cancer morbidity. Understanding the complex mechanisms involved in GBM progression and finding therapeutic agents that interfere with these complex processes have been a major focus of the GBM research group.

  • Neuroblastoma is the third most common pediatric cancer and is responsible for approximately 15% of all childhood cancer deaths and is the most common cancer diagnosed during the first year of life. The research team in Molecular Oncology has recently developed humanized neuroblastoma mouse models to screen new therapies for high-risk neuroblastoma and establishing a 3-dimensional neuroblastoma culture system to investigate therapy responses at the molecular level.

  • Identification of cellular defects leading to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), which is a major concern for children who survive cancer treatments, but have neuropathy (pain, numbness) issues for life. These studies would include the development of novel agents (treatments) that will prevent or correct CIPN in children as well as identifying genetic risk factors.

  • Targeting and Optimizing Cancer Therapy to the Individual including clinical pharmacology of anti-cancer drugs, genetic assessment of each patient’s ability to tolerate treatment and identification of genetic biomarkers in DNA and proteins that predict therapy response. Using gene profiling helps identify genes and proteins that indicate whether or not an individual will respond to the planned therapy.

Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation 

Research remains our top priority to ensure one day we reach the day when no child will face the uncertainty of cancer.-Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation is a generous partner in advancing cancer research at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research and Riley Hospital for Children. Since its first gift in 2001, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation has given Riley over $3.4 million. JGCF has one simple vision: to help children with life threatening illness being treated at Riley triumph over their disease and go on to lead healthy lives. Through the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Endowment and annual support, they provide vital resources for Riley Hospital/Indiana University School of Medicine researchers seeking to impact treatments, therapies and cures.

Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation

Purdue University Dance Marathon

For The Kids!

Purdue University Dance Marathon (PUDM) raises money year-round for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is the largest student-run philanthropic organization on Purdue's campus. PUDM was established in 2005 and has raised over $3 million for the kids and families at Riley Hospital for Children. Their motto is to “stand for those who can’t”, and the students work hard to support innovative research at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research. The Wells Center, with Riley Children’s Foundation, works to find the causes of the illnesses that afflict Hoosier children, innovate new treatments or improve treatments, and educate new scientists in pediatric research in undergraduate and graduate training programs at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Purdue University Dance Marathon



Wells Center for Pediatric Research
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Research Group
Walther Hall R3 528
980 West Walnut
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Phone: 317-274-8908
Fax: 317-274-8046