Basic and Translational Cancer Research Program

The Basic and Translational Research Program of the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases integrates laboratory and clinical expertise in the search for answers for children with cancer and blood diseases.

The overall goals of this program are:

  • To understand the molecular and cell biology of childhood cancers and leukemias, and the interactions of malignant cells with host cells, especially in the tumor microenvironment
  • To translate this knowledge into clinical applications in areas of diagnosis, risk assessment and therapy 

Research Focus

Research focuses on neural tumors (brain, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma), acute leukemia and sarcomas, because many patients with these malignancies have very aggressive disease that often is not yet successfully treated. The Health Promotions and Outcomes component of our research program includes studies of quality of life during and after therapy, and of interventions affecting these patients.

Clinical Trials

In our vigorous clinical research program, we participate in more than 121 active clinical trials, including the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a cooperative group for childhood cancer.  Members of our Cancer Research Program are working on developing therapies that would allow physicians to fight stubborn cancers that affect children without using chemotherapy, as explained in the video below.


Research Leadership

Our doctors and scientists are recipients of multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as from private philanthropy and industry. We serve in key leadership roles in the COG, which gives our patients access to the best and newest therapies anywhere. In addition, our nationally recognized nursing research program is headed by the chair of the COG’s nursing committee.

Our Biostatistics and Informatics Center is led by the former group statistician of the COG. We maintain several reference laboratories for the COG and other clinical assays, which are federally certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, assuring accuracy, reliability and timeliness of patient test results.

Blood Diseases

We collaborate with experts in biomedical engineering, biophysics and hematology within our NIH-funded Basic and Translational Research Program (BTRP) studying sickle cell disease. The BTRP involves physicians from Children's Hospital Los Angeles, as well as faculty from the Keck School of Medicine and the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC.

In addition, our hematology researchers conduct pioneering research into the measurement and management of iron for patients with blood disease, as well as the basic pathology of sickle cell disease.