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Molecular Tumor Board


The Molecular Tumor Board (MTB) at Rady Children’s Hospital was created in 2017 and consists of physician-scientists, clinicians and researchers in the field of tumor genetics. The board recommends advanced testing, including rapid whole genome sequencing, for some children with tumors in the brain or spinal cord. The members of the tumor board study the results of these tests and try to detect the novel mutations and pathways involved in tumor growth.


Patients must qualify to participate in the Molecular Tumor Board study. Physician-scientists nominate patients for the study when the standard options for care and treatment have been exhausted or patients who have tumors that do not have a standard of treatment and palliative care is the only care option.


In the labs for the Molecular Tumor Board, there is work underway to identify new interventions that inhibit tumor growth. The team of researchers looks at biopsies of tumor tissue and derives the models from these tumors to find potential, personal treatments for these rare tumors that do not have an established course of care.

Thanks to the support and funding from the Joseph Clayes III Charitable Trust, Drs. Paul and Chavez and the Molecular Tumor Board staff have analyzed the molecular structure of tumors in 60 patients as of 2023.

The team regularly publishes new discoveries on the molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis that may lead to improved diagnostics and therapeutic targeting, such as two recent studies in Nature Communications and Nature Genetics.

Who We Are

Dr. Megan Paul, a pediatric neuro-oncologist, is the Molecular Tumor Board clinical director and the primary investigator (PI). She has been involved with the MTB at Rady Children’s Hospital since working as a fellowship trainee in 2018.

Dr. Lukas Chavez is a PhD-level cancer researcher and the scientific director for the Molecular Tumor Board. He works in the lab with the team to study the causes that lead to the development and progression of pediatric brain tumors.

Molecular Tumor Board Staff

Lukas Chavez PhD, Scientific Director
Director, Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomic Medicine, Assistant Professor, Cancer Genome & Epigenetics Program, Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) Medical Discovery Institute, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, UC San Diego.

Megan Paul, MD, PI, and Clinical Co-lead of the International Review Board-approved pediatric neuro-oncology MTB

Jennifer Elster, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Proton Therapy Program

Denise Malicki MD, PhD, Neuropathologist, Division of Pathology

Michael Levy, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Neurosurgery

Jill Mesirov, PhD, UC San Diego School of Medicine

Hannah Carter, PhD, UC San Diego School of Medicine