Neuroblastoma Expert to Discuss Research, Development of Novel Treatment Options

June 07, 2007

Nina F. Schor

Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics, has spent the past two decades researching neuroblastoma, a cancer that grows from immature nerve cells. She will discuss the status of research and development of novel treatment options for the cancer, the most common solid tumor of childhood, at 4 p.m. Friday in the Case Methods Room (1-9576).

It’s the latest installment of the “Second Friday Science Social” lecture series geared mainly to faculty, staff and students at the University, though the general public is welcome as well. The lectures are free. Drinks and snacks will be provided in the Forbes Lounge (1-9580) following the lecture.

If a neuroblastoma is found before it has metastasized and is only on one side of the body, the child has a more than 95 percent chance of cure by surgery alone. However, 60 percent of children with this type of cancer aren’t diagnosed until after it has metastasized. They have only between a 5 and 20 percent chance of surviving 5 years.

“We’ve been trying to make a dent in that survival rate for the past 20 years,” Schor said.

Schor’s lecture will detail why current treatments don’t work better and what opportunities for improvement her research has uncovered, including finding molecular markers to determine the most effective chemotherapy.

“The idea is to look for molecular characteristics of the tumor or the patient, and then using that information to guide therapy,” Schor said, adding that genetics also play a role that must be further researched. “We know it’s not as simple as having the gene for neuroblastoma – it’s that plus some environmental factor.”

A child neurology researcher, Schor also holds an appointment in the Department of Neurology. She was appointed chair of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital in 2006. She is the seventh chair the Department of Pediatrics since its inception 80 years ago. Previously, she was chief of the Division of Child Neurology of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and held the Carol Ann Craumer Endowed Chair for Pediatric Research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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