Research and Clinical Trials

Cancer patient 1The Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders participates in numerous research activities aimed at improved understanding and treatment of pediatric cancer and blood disorders. We offer clinical trials for virtually every type of cancer and blood disorder.

Click here to find active clinical trials

Helping Kids Live

Clinical trials represent the critical method by which children in San Diego with cancer are treated. This clinical trials effort has been spearheaded by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the largest cooperative group of its kind in the world. All hospitals that treat childhood cancer in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, plus several centers in Europe, are part of COG.

Clinical trials are critical because they help keep children alive. Here in the United States, there has been a 10 percent improvement each decade in the five-year cancer survival rate; today, this rate is 79 percent. With increased understanding of cancer and genes that may play a role, researchers hope to raise the percentage even higher.

Alliance with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and UC San Diego

On July 27, 2007, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego formed an alliance with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego). The alliance focuses on the development of clinical, translational and basic research for childhood cancer, and several joint clinical trials and other research collaborations are now underway. Through our alliance with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Rady Children’s is part of a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Beat Childhood Cancer

Rady Children’s/UC San Diego is also one of the four founders of Beat Childhood Cancer (formerly the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium), a group of children’s hospitals and universities dedicated to developing more effective therapies for the two childhood cancers. Since the consortium’s inception, William Roberts, M.D., Director of the Peckham Center and Division Chief, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Dept. of Pediatrics, UC San Diego, has served as the Rady Children’s/UC San Diego principal investigator.

sow_logoHyundai Hope on Wheels Research Grants

Hyundai Hope On Wheels awards grants in various categories to researchers at eligible Children’s Oncology Group member institutions. The highly competitive grant programs are aimed at expanding the knowledge base of the disease and improving the standards of care.

In 2017, nurse practitioner Jeanie Spies, M.S.N., P.N.P., received a $50,000 Hyundai Impact Award. The award will be used to fund the Integrative Medicine Program, which she oversees. Read more.

In 2016, Dr. Sun Choo received a Hyundai Young Investigator Award. The $150,000 grant was for research on Ewing sarcoma.

In 2015, Rady Children’s received the Hyundai Scholar Award. The $250,000 grant was for research on acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of pediatric cancer.

Cancer Discoveries

Through research in the lab, our physician-scientists are making critical discoveries about pediatric cancers. They then work to translate these discoveries into treatments that can save lives.

Among these discoveries, Donald Durden, M.D., Ph.D., director of hematology/oncology research at Rady Children’s, working with an Emory University researcher, identified a new marker for tumor growth in medulloblastoma that helps determine survival. The biomarker’s discovery also suggests new possibilities in developing targeted therapies.

Subsequently, the Durden laboratory, using mouse genetic models, identified a master control switch that regulates the process of metastasis. The discovery provides a new target for treating or preventing metastasis and has the potential to transform cancer therapeutics. Dr. Durden also developed a novel therapeutic agent for neuoblastoma. Learn more.

Other Research

A research project by Paula Aristizabal, M.D., M.A.S., aims to understand the reasons why Hispanic parents are less likely than non-Hispanic white parents to enroll their children in clinical trials. Preliminary results point to disparities in obtaining informed consent.

SignalRx Pharmaceuticals, founded by Donald Durden, M.D., Ph.D., has developed an in silico platform for designing small molecule dual inhibitors, an advancement that could expedite the discovery of more targeted cancer agents.

For detailed information on research activities of our team members, visit the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics website.