The research strategy for A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure Foundation (aka The PLGA Foundation) is guided by an External Scientific Advisory Committee and two Internal Scientific Advisors.


Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD

Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD, Bernard and Mildred Kayden MGH Research Institute Chair; Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School; Institute Member, Broad Institute; American Cancer Society Research Professor.

Dr. Bernstein is a biologist and Professor of Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. He is also the Director of the Epigenomics Program at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Bernstein’s research focuses on epigenetics and specifically how modifications to the protein scaffold called chromatin contribute to mammalian development and human cancer. His work is notable for the identification of specialized chromatin structures that underlie stem cell pluripotency and aberrant epigenetic mechanisms that drive tumor initiation and drug resistance. Current work in the Bernstein lab spans a range of projects from technology development to cancer biology and therapeutic strategies. Key themes include: developing new technologies for mapping gene expression and chromatin modifications at the single cell and single molecule level; understanding cell fate decisions at fine resolution in development and disease; and investigating how genome and chromatin organization is aberrantly altered in cancer, and importantly, how these changes contribute to tumor biology.

Bernstein received his B.S. in physics from Yale University, and his Ph.D. and M.D. from the University of Washington School of Medicine

Samuel C. Blackman, MD, PhD, Senior Medical Director, Juno Therapeutics, Inc., Seattle, WA.

Dr. Blackman is a physician-scientist trained in pediatric hematology-oncology and pediatric neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston. For the past 6 years he has been focused on the early clinical development of novel cancer therapeutics and has held various positions of increasing responsibility within the pharmaceutical industry. In his present role at Juno Therapeutics he is responsible for clinical development of novel immunotherapeutics for cancer, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) therapies. Prior to his current role he served as Head of Translational Medicine at Seattle Genetics where he was responsible for pre-clinical and early clinical development of novel antibody drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics for cancer and lead a group of 30 physicians and scientists. Earlier he was a Director in the Oncology Early Development Unit at GlaxoSmithKline where he focused on the development of targeted therapeutics for cancer and also lead the pediatric development of GSKs BRAF and MEK inhibitors. While employed at Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Blackman was Associate Director of Experimental Medicine/Oncology and was responsible for developing novel proof-of-concept platforms and clinical validation of biomarkers in association with several early stage drug development programs and designed the pediatric development strategy for Merck’s mTOR inhibitor program.

Dr. Blackman is a graduate of the pediatric residency program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He received his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and Department of Pharmacology, and his undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago.

Nada Jabado, MD, PhD

Nada Jabado, MD, PhD , Professor of Pediatrics and Human Genetics, McGill University, The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, CANADA

Dr. Nada Jabado is a Professor of Pediatrics and staff physician at McGill University. She completed her residency in pediatrics with a specialization in hemato-oncology. She also obtained a PhD in Immunology in Paris, France, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry at McGill. She began her career as an independent investigator at McGill in 2003, pioneering a research program in pediatric brain tumors which is now unparalleled. Her group uncovered that pediatric high-grade astrocytomas (HGA) are molecularly and genetically distinct from adult tumors. More importantly, they identified a new molecular mechanism driving pediatric HGA, namely recurrent somatic driver mutations in the tail of histone 3 variants (H3.3 and H3.1).

Dr. Jabado’s ground-breaking work has created a paradigm shift in cancer with the identification of histone mutations in human disease which has revolutionized this field, as the epigenome was a previously unsuspected hallmark of oncogenesis, thus linking development and what we now know are epigenetic-driven cancers. This work and other publications are considered landmark papers (over 3000 citations since 2012). Dr. Nada Jabado has over 150 peer-reviewed publications to her credit, with an impressive number of senior-author, high-impact publications in such prominent journals as Nature Genetics, Nature, Science and Cancer Cell, to name a few. She is an international leader in the field of neuro-oncology/cancer, honored by invitations as s keynote speaker at top ranked symposia and universities. Dr. Jabado has received numerous national and international honors while garnering prestigious salary support awards throughout her career. She is one of the best-funded investigators in Canada, with grants from CIHR, Genome Canada, NIH as well as philanthropic organizations. She was recently inducted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the CIHR Governing Council.

Dr. Mark Kieran, MD, PhD

Mark W. Kieran, MD, PhD Bristol-Myers Squibb

Dr. Kieran is Clinical Trial Lead, Pediatrics Program, Oncology Clinical Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb. He received his PhD in 1983 from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, and his MD in 1986 from the University of Calgary. After a pediatric residency at McGill University in Montreal, he received postdoctoral education at Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Kieran became Director of Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center in 1999.

Dr. Kieran’s primary research interest is the genomic identification of mutations and development of new targeted therapies for children with brain tumors. He has a particular focus on tumors of glial origin and the identification of the biology that leads to their growth. The focus of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program that he chairs has been the initiation of early phase trials for these tumors based on the improved understanding of their biology and incorporation of personalized approaches such as targeted therapies, biologic therapies, immune therapy and gene therapy.

Dr. Kieran is a member of the Society for Neuro-Oncology, the Society of Pediatric Research, and the American Society for Clinical Oncology. He is the pediatric editor of Neuro-Oncology and serves on the Editorial Board of Child’s Nervous System. Dr. Kieran currently leads the Response Assessment in Pediatric NeuroOncology Committee (RAPNO), which is dedicated to improving the criteria on which new therapies are assessed.

LibuttiSteven K. Libutti, M.D., FACS, Director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey,Vice Chancellor for Cancer Programs, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Senior Vice President, Oncology Services, RWJBarnabas Health Professor of Surgery, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Steven K. Libutti, MD, is one of the leaders in regional cancer therapy and tumor targeted gene therapy and is a recognized surgical oncologist and expert in endocrine surgery and in the management of neuroendocrine tumors. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College, Dr. Libutti received his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He remained at Presbyterian Hospital in New York where he completed his residency in surgery, followed by a fellowship at the NCI in surgical oncology and endocrine surgery. He continued at the NCI where he became a tenured Senior Investigator and Chief of the Tumor Angiogenesis Section in the Surgery Branch. Dr. Libutti is studying tumor neovascular formation and the interaction between tumor cells, endothelial cells and the components of the tumor microenvironment including fibroblasts and cancer stem cells. The goal of Dr. Libutti’s research program is to develop novel cancer therapies through a better understanding of the complex interactions within the tumor microenvironment.  He has published over 270 peer-reviewed journal articles, is Editor-in-Chief of the Nature Journal Cancer Gene Therapy, and holds seven U.S. patents. In addition to his laboratory and research interests, Dr. Libutti is an accomplished clinical surgeon. His clinical expertise is in the management of malignancies of the liver, pancreas, and GI tract, and in applying laparoscopic surgery to managing patients with malignancies. Dr. Libutti is the Director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the State’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, Stanford University, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Oncology

Michelle Monje, MD, PhD joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Oncology. Following her undergraduate degree in biology at Vassar College, Dr. Monje received her MD and PhD in Neuroscience from Stanford University. She then completed neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School program. She subsequently returned to Stanford for a clinical fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology and a postdoctoral fellowship. The scope of her research program encompasses the molecular determinants of neural precursor cell fate, neuronal-glial interactions, and the role of neural precursor cells in oncogenesis and repair mechanisms. As a practicing neurologist and neuro-oncologist, Dr Monje is dedicated to understanding the neurodevelopmental origins of pediatric brain tumors and the neurological consequences of cancer treatment.


The Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytoma Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was established in 2007 as a dedicated program to advance targeted therapy treatments for this devastating disease. Founding co-chairs, Dr. Mark Kieran and Dr. Charles Stiles, created a hub infrastructure to investigate basic science and translational research projects that have revealed new pathways and targets, as well as multiple new clinical trials which are giving hope to families impacted by this disease. New co-chairs, Dr. Daphne Haas-Kogan and Dr. Rosalind Segal will leverage the strength of the PLGA Research Program at DFCI to explore relevant areas, including but not limited to, epigenetic, immunotherapy, blood brain barrier, imaging, etc., to turbo charge the process of informing scientists and clinicians about the PLGA disease. Read more about the progress of the program as of October 2017, here


Dr. Daphne Haas-Kogan, Chair Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Professor of Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Haas-Kogan received her medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) in 1991. She completed a research fellowship, followed by residency in radiation oncology at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC). She spent 18 years as a radiation oncologist, researcher and academic leader in the UCSF HDFCCC system before becoming Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital in 2015.

Dr. Rosalind Segal, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and the Co-Chair of the Cancer Biology Department at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr. Segal is an American neurologist. Segal’s work employs modern methods of cell and molecular biology to study the development of the mammalian brain with the goal of understanding how disruption of this normal process leads to the formation of brain malignancies.