Dr. Rishi Lulla – Translational Science Research Grant

Headshot of Dr. LullaAnn & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

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Dr. Rishi Lulla and Dr. Amanda Saratsis are Modifying the Future: A Collaborative Approach to Chromatin Modifications and Related Therapies for the Treatment of Pediatric Brain Tumors

Scientists at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University have partnered together to “Modify the Future” by investigating the role of chromatin in the development of brain and central nervous system tumors.Dr. Saratsis Headshot

The project leads are Amanda Saratsis, MD, Attending Physician in the Division of Neurosurgery at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Rishi Lulla, MD, MS, Attending Physician in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  Their work centers around chromatin which is a complex of DNA, RNA and proteins called histones that condense to form chromosomes during cell division.  Modifications to chromatin structure and function (also called epigenetics) determine which genes will be expressed.  Increasing evidence points to altered chromatin biology as a central feature of cancer development and progression.

Research Objectives:
To utilize the multi-disciplinary strength of this group to understand how chromatin modifications promote the development of pediatric central nervous system (CNS) tumors, then apply this understanding to evaluate new therapeutics that target chromatin modifiers.

This bench-to-bedside approach will use clinical observation and patient samples to drive basic science investigation, which will then inform the development of new and novel clinical trials.

Initial research will focus on pediatric high grade glioma (pHGG) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) because children affected by these tumors are in dire need of improved treatment options and outcomes.

Through a collaborative approach, this unique group of researchers will bring new therapies to clinical trials and improve outcomes for patients with pediatric brain tumors. They have already gained global attention due to the initial findings from the project and their work will be accelerated through generous philanthropic support from the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

Lurie Children’s Principal Investigators:
Rishi R. Lulla MD, MS
Amanda Saratsis, MD

Co-Investigators from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine:
Rintaro Hashizume, MD, PhD
C. David James, PhD
Ali Shilatifard, PhD
Alexander Stegh, PhD