May 2019

Email is not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.  
May 17, 2019

Wilbur Lam Receives an NIH NHLBI Emerging Investigator Award (R35)

Dr. Lam will receive stable funding (roughly two R01 equivalents) for over 7 years with total direct costs of approximately $5 million. Entitled "Engineering biophysical microtechnologies for hematologic applications in health and disease," this R35 award is meant to increase freedom to conduct research that breaks new ground or extends previous discoveries in new directions and to support a research program, rather than a research project, by providing the primary and most likely sole source of NHLBI funding on individual grant awards.
Read more
Aflac Cancer Center Faculty Members Featured on CNN
Thomas Olson, MD, Program Director for Solid Tumor at the Aflac Cancer Center, was interviewed in March live on CNN Headline News discussing the care of a 2-year-old patient with a rare ovarian yolk sac tumor. This segment focused on the importance of parents advocating for their children's health. Dr. Olson is also an Executive Committee Member of the Malignant Germ Cell International Consortium (MaGIC). Kelly Goldsmith, MD, Director of the Neuroblastoma/MIBG Therapy Program at the Aflac Cancer Center, was interviewed by CNN in April for a story about a 21-month-old Kentucky toddler diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2017. Dr. Goldsmith provided key context to the editor by discussing the complicated diagnosis of neuroblastoma.
See Highlights Section to learn more
Chris Porter, Erik Dreaden, and Curtis Henry Received Department of Defense (DoD) Special Focus Idea Award
The project, titled "Development of Bispecific, T-Cell Engaging, Cytokine-Loaded Nanoparticles (BiTEokines) for the Treatment of Childhood Cancers," is a collaborative 2-year DoD grant. The goal of this project is to test novel strategies to promote an immune response against leukemia cells. The team will develop nanoparticles for hyperlocal delivery of IL-12 to the immunologic synapse between T cells and leukemia cells, and test whether IL-12 enhances the activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors against leukemia cells.
Cheng-Kui Qu's Research Featured in Science Daily
"Critical role of ASCT2-mediated amino acid metabolism in promoting leukemia development and progression" focuses on how cancer cells consume sugar at a higher rate than healthy cells. The work also illustrates how cancer cells are hungry for amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and other biomolecules. Scientists led by Cheng-Kui Qu, MD, PhD, have identified a transporter enzyme called ASCT2, which brings amino acids into cells, as a potential target for anticancer drugs.
Read more
Kavita Dhodapkar Receives Multi-PI NIH R01 Grant
Development of severe immune related adverse events (IRAEs) limits the optimal application of combination checkpoint therapy with anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1, and markers are needed to identify patients at risk for development of these IRAEs. Dr. Dhodapkar's team have recently found that combination therapy leads to distinct changes in circulating B cells that correlate with development of grade 3-4 IRAEs. This proposal will validate this biomarker and extend our understanding of B cell regulation in the setting of combination checkpoint therapy.
Read more

Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center Opens Sickle Cell Outpatient Clinic in Columbus

The Columbus Sickle Cell Clinic will be operated by Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center pediatric hematologists and nurses with the goal of better serving children and families in the Columbus area. The outpatient clinic, located across from the Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown Campus, will provide comprehensive, high-quality clinical services for the more than 150 patients in the Columbus area.

"We are excited to expand our services to current Aflac sickle cell and hematology patient families living near Columbus who have been making the long trip to and from our Atlanta clinics," said Karen Wasilewski, MD, Medical Director of the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center and one of the four hematologists on staff in the Columbus clinic. Funding to operate the new outpatient clinic is provided by Piedmont Columbus Regional Foundation through the Ben Koon Pediatric Oncology Endowment Fund.
Read more
National Presence at 2019 ASPHO Conference
With more than 1,100 pediatric hematology and oncology professionals from all across the country in attendance, seven members of our team participated in ASPHO leadership and 10 members spoke at ASPHO sessions. There were 15 poster presentations and Wilbur Lam was presented the 2019 Frank A. Oski Memorial lectureship.
2019 Emory Undergraduate Research Symposium
Two of our faculty members, Sharon Castellino, MD and Karen Effinger, MD, mentored undergraduate student Emily Silverman during her senior research class. Emily presented her work, "Screening and Detection of Endocrine late Effects in Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivors Following Contemporary Therapy" at the Emory Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Jason Fangusaro Honored with the Carter S. Martin Endowed Chair for Developmental Therapeutics

On Wednesday, April 17th, Dr. Fangusaro was recognized with the Carter Samuel Martin Chair for Developmental Therapeutics. The namesake of the chair, Carter Martin, was a beloved patient at the Aflac Cancer Center who lost his battle with Ewing sarcoma in 2004.
Read bio
2019 Swim Across America
Mark your calendars! The seventh-annual Swim Across America Atlanta Open Swim is Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 at Lake Lanier. More than 1,000 swimmers, volunteers, spectators and supporters, as well as Olympians from near and far are expected to attend. Established in 2013, the Swim Across America Atlanta swim has donated more than $1.7 million to the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Past Olympian participants have included Missy Franklin, Steve Lundquist and many others. The first 20 employees to sign up can use the code AFLAC25 to receive $25 off their registration fee. We also welcome volunteers and spectators! Contact Ashley Baker at with questions.
Register today
Pediatric Brain Tumor Neurosphere Cultures Available
Ian's Friends Foundation (IFF) Brain Tumor Biorepository mission is to collect, culture and distribute pediatric brain tumor biospecimens to research investigators working on advancing the molecular understanding and treatment of pediatric brain tumors. The IFF Brain Tumor Biorepository at the Aflac Cancer Center has several pediatric brain tumor neurosphere cultures available.
Learn more


Lanzel AF, Lavery JV
"Unintended Consequences of the Right to Try Act for Palliative Care in Pediatric Oncology." - JAMA Oncology

Liu T, Zhang H, Yi S, Gu L, Zhou M
"Mutual regulation of MDM4 and TOP2A in cancer cell proliferation." - Molecular Oncology

Ni F, Yu WM, Li Zhiguo, Graham DK, Jin Lingtao, Kang Sumin, Rossi MR, Li Shiyong, Broxmeyer HE, Qu CK
"Critical role of ASCT2-mediated amino acid metabolism in promoting leukaemia development and progression." - Nature Metabolism

Yee ME, Bakshi N, Graciaa SH, Lane PA, Jerris RC, Wang YF, Yildirim I
"Incidence of invasive Haemophilus influenzae infections in children with sickle cell disease." - Pediatric Blood & Cancer


CNN article featuring Dr. Kelly Goldsmith

CNN Headline News video featuring Dr. Thomas Olson


View Fundraising Events




Emory Home | CHOA Newsroom | Join the Fight | Contact Us
Have a story for Aflac Report? Submit your suggestion via email.