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Hematology, Oncology and BMT - Research

Overview and Faculty Research Interests


Children’s Hospital Colorado Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) includes physician faculty members with a variety of interests in clinical, translational (“bench to bedside”), and laboratory research. Faculty members published over 200 scientific articles between 2006-2011 and have grant funding from major national agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Major areas of clinical research focus include trials for children with all types of cancer, development of new cancer therapies (Experimental Therapeutics Program), sickle cell anemia, hemophilia and clotting disorders, and studies of different modes of bone marrow transplantation.

Translational and basic laboratory research programs include studies of leukemia and brain tumor biology and genetics, development of new molecularly targeted therapies for various types of cancer, genetic studies of von Willebrand disease and other bleeding disorders, white blood cell function, and studies that seek to understand why reactions occur to blood transfusions.

Faculty members of the CCBD include internationally recognized leaders in research in Hemophilia and clotting disorders (Drs. Marilyn Manco-Johnson, Jorge Di Paola, and Neil Goldenberg), white blood cell function (Dr. Daniel Ambruso), transfusion reactions (Dr. Christopher Silliman), brain tumors (Dr. Nicholas Foreman), experimental therapeutics (Dr. Lia Gore) and leukemia biology and treatment (Drs. Stephen Hunger, Kelly Maloney and Doug Graham).


Dr. Daniel Ambruso investigates mechanisms regulating bactericidal activity of human neutrophils and monocytes. He also studies neutrophil function in thermal injury/trauma, chronic granulomatous disease, platelet activating factor generation in stored blood components, and immune-related blood disorders.

Dr. Robert Casey's research interests focus on the psychosocial functioning of children and families confronting pediatric illness. Specifically , he has focused on traumatic stress reactions in children, parents and siblings. He has also conducted research examining identity and coping in pediatric cancer survivors, as well as the impact of recreational summer camps on the emotional adjustment of pediatric cancer patients.

Dr. John Craddock's clinical focus in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) complements his research interest. Dr Craddock serves as the local primary investigator (PI) for clinical trials pertaining to the improvement of immune reconstitution and viral protection post-transplant. In conjunction with his colleagues, Dr Craddock is also involved in a clinical trial assessing the role of HSCT for children diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa.

Dr. Jorge Di Paola is engaged in research related to von Willebrand disease, hemophilia, coagulation, and other bleeding disorders. His lab uses large scale genetic studies to identify genes that influence blood cell numbers and those that are mutated in bleeding disorders.

Dr. Kristen Eisenman's research interest is in supportive care, education, and psychosocial support in acute myeloid leukemia. She is involved clinically in the leukemia care team.

Dr. Nicholas Foreman directs an active clinical and laboratory research program focused on pediatric brain tumors. Major components of his research program include clinical trials for children with relapsed and refractory brain tumors and lab studies of the genetics of pediatric glial tumors that are designed to help develop new therapies.

Dr. Timothy Garrington is a pediatric oncologist with a clinical focus in solid tumors, particularly bone tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, germ cell tumors, and histiocytic disorders. He also has a major interest in medical education and research on methods to improve teaching of medical students and physicians. Dr. Garrington is a Course Director in the Medical School and also directs the CCBD Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program.

Dr. Roger Giller is engaged in clinical research pertaining to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). He directs clinical trials that seek to define the role of HSCT for treatment of children and adolescents with cancer and nonmalignant disorders. Dr. Giller also has a special interest in and conducts clinical trials related to viral infections in immunocompromised hosts.

Dr. Lia Gore founded and directs the CCBD Pediatric Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP), which is dedicated to development and clinical testing of new treatments for children and adolescents with cancer who have not responded to standard therapies. Dr. Gore is the co-founder and co-director of the Pediatric Experimental Therapeutics Investigator Consortium (POETIC), which includes eleven major pediatric oncology programs from the U.S. and Canada. She also is a member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at The University of Colorado Cancer Center and directs the Early Phase Hematological Maligancies program there. Dr. Gore participates in clinical research in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and has active collaborations in the UK, Europe and Australia related to pediatric oncology drug development.

Dr. Brian Greffe has a research focus on survivorship and the late effects of cancer treatment. He is also board certified in palliative care and engages in research related to pediatric palliative and hospice care.

Dr. Taru Hays is engaged in research studies in pediatric blood disorders. She is the co-author of a new textbook on pediatric blood cell morphology.

Dr. Amy Keating studies the role of the MER family of receptor tyrosine kinases in malignancy. Currently she and members of her laboratory are investigating how astrocytic brain tumors grow, survive following chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and migrate throughout the brain. By recognizing and characterizing how astrocytoma cells accomplish these processes, she hopes to develop new therapies that work better and are safer for our young patients.

Dr. Meg Macy's laboratory and clinical research focuses on novel therapeutics in pediatric cancer. She is involved clinically in the Experimental Therapeutics, Neuro-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant programs.

Dr. Kelly Maloney is one of the clinical oncologists in the section. She is a leader in clinical trials for childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She recently chaired the Children’s Oncology Group clinical trial for children with standard risk ALL that enrolled approximately 5500 children. In addition, she is the chair of the Down Syndrome Task Force for COG. She is also the director of clinical research for the CCBD.

Dr. Marilyn Manco-Johnson is an international leader in research on pediatric hemostasis and thrombosis. She is Director of the University of Colorado School of Medicine Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center and directs a wide variety of research studies designed to define optimal treatments for children with hemophilia and thrombosis and other bleeding disorders. Her work on prophylactic use of clotting factor concentrates has revolutionized the treatment of children with severe hemophilia.

Dr. Rachelle Nuss directs the Pediatric Sickle Cell Program through the University of Colorado School of Medicine Sickle Cell Treatment and Research Center. Her research is focused on optimizing care for children and adults with sickle cell disease and is funded to do so through an NIH HRSA grant. In addition, she participates in national intervention trials in sickle cell disease and was recently an author on a JAMA publication about the role of inhaled nitric oxide on pain. She also does collaborative studies with Dr. Silliman on the role of neutrophils in acute chest syndrome of sickle cell disease.

Dr. Christopher Porter has a research program focused on identifying new therapeutic strategies to overcome treatment resistance in leukemia and developing new techniques for use in gene therapy.

Dr. Ralph Quinones directs the Stem Cell Processing Lab at Children's Hospital Colorado and also serves as the Medical Director of the University of Colorado Umbilical Cord Blood Bank. He is engaged in clinical trials of HSCT in children and in research concerning novel methods of graft engineering.

Dr. Lisa Reaves is a full-time clinical hematologist-oncologist at the CCBD Network of Care site in Colorado Springs, with special interest in outreach. She is currently working with Dr. Hunger on a leukemia project in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Ashley Roger's clinical focus is in leukemia and lymphoma with the Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma team. Her research interests are in care improvement strategies for Spanish speaking patients, medical education, and comprehensive care for leukemia patients.

Dr. Christopher Silliman directs a research laboratory with the primary interest being the pro-inflammatory effects of transfusion on the innate immune system, especially the interactions between neutrophils and vascular endothelium in the context of acute lung injury and post-injury multiple organ failure. His most recent work focuses on the acute coagulopathy of trauma, proper resuscitation and the proteome of the transfused components with special emphasis on the infusion of inflammatory mediators.

Dr. Thomas Smith treats all types of pediatric and adolescent cancers and blood problems. His clinical interest is developing collaboration between Children’s Hospital Colorado based Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and referring physicians in the metro Denver and Colorado Springs area, rural physicians in the Rocky Mountain region and adult oncologists. He is based at the Littleton site of practice.

Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar is interested in the treatment of medulloblastoma. His research focuses on genetic mechanisms by which normal brain cells become cancerous and how these genetic differences can be used to better diagnose and treat children with brain tumors.

Dr. Michael Wang sees children and young adults with bleeding and clotting disorders. He has a research interest in the immunological aspects of coagulation disorders, including inhibitor development in hemophilia and the biology of catastrophic antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.