The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders

ResearchimageResearch is the second major focus of the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Research combines basic scientific and clinical/ translational studies to understand the genetic and environmental causes of childhood cancer and blood disorders, identify innovative and ideal therapies for these disorders and optimize the outcome and quality of life for young people with these illnesses. Progress in medicine is dependent upon ongoing research. The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders is the state's only comprehensive pediatric center, treating 90 percent of all pediatric cancer and other blood disorders patients diagnosed in Alabama and offering specific treatment and research programs for:

Pediatric Oncology research efforts are centered in the Children's Oncology Group (COG). The Children's Oncology Group is the world's largest childhood cancer research organization and the only National Cancer Institute funded Pediatric Cancer Cooperative Group in the United States. In addition, childhood cancer treatment and research institutions in Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland provide an international expertise to the COG.  In addition, UAB houses a prestigious National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center combining excellence in Cancer Research and Treatment. Most of the treatment protocols offered to children with cancer at UAB represent the newest and best worldwide treatments from the COG.

Pediatric Hematology research encompasses many diverse areas of expertise. A major focus of the UAB group is Sickle Cell Disease, the most common inherited blood disorder. UAB is a leader in Sickle Cell research. An animal model of sickle cell disease in which the human sickle cell gene is bred into a mouse (human sickle cell transgenic mouse) was developed at UAB and has provided a priceless animal model to prove potential new therapies for Sickle Cell Disease. UAB is a key member of the national Sickle Cell Clinical Trials Research Network and under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Howard developed an innovative Children and Youth Sickle Network (CSYN) to bring world class Sickle Cell Research and Care to all areas of the State of Alabama. Bleeding disorder research is focused in the UAB Comprehensive Hemophilia Treatment Center, a federally funded center of excellence if Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders research and care. Another research focus is the rare group of disorders known as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. Through membership in the Histiocyte Society, UAB offers access to the latest international treatments for this rare and difficult group of disorders.

Neuro-Oncology research focuses on both clinical research and basic science research. Most treatments for children with brain and spinal cord tumors are conducted in conjunction with the Children's Oncology Group. In addition, innovative locally developed chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments are developed in cooperation with the Neuro-Oncology program in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition, several division researchers focus their efforts on a better understanding of the biological causes of brain tumors. Neurofibromatosis is an inherited disorder associated with an increased risk of nervous system tumors including brain and spinal tumors. UAB is a major research center for Neurofibromatosis research funded by the Department of Defense.

The Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program likewise conducts both clinical and basic science research. Transplant treatment protocols are developed in cooperation with the Children's Oncology Group and the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium. UAB also contributes donors and conducts minority donor recruitment drives for the National Marrow Donor Program. Basic research studies in the group includes emphasis on the genetic basis of cancer in rare marrow failure syndromes and an improving understanding and prevention of graft versus host disease.

The Pediatric Developmental Therapeutics Program collaborates with partners from across the country-and around the globe-to discover and investigate promising cancer therapies never before studied in children.  As only one of 21 institutions in the world to be accepted as part of the Children's Oncology Group Phase I and Pilot Consortium, the UAB Developmental Therapeutics Program is able to offer access to cutting-edge experimental treatments that are not otherwise available.  In addition to participation in the Children’s Oncology Group, the UAB Developmental Therapeutics Program is active in industry sponsored  studies, investigator initiated studies, and is a participant in the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC).  By participating in developmental therapeutics studies, patients receive state-of-the-art care while helping to advance the treatment of pediatric cancers. 

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program focuses its research efforts on an improved understanding of the unique needs of childhood cancer survivors. UAB was one of the first ten institutions nationwide to focus on the Childhood Cancer survivorship as an initial participant in the National Cancer Institute funded Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS). Findings from the initial CCSS of survivors treated prior to 1986 has led to a follow-up study that is ongoing. Patients seen in the TLC Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic at UAB are offered the opportunity to participate in the current CCSS.

The "Hope and Cope" Psychosocial Program was created to provide a seamless flow of innovative approaches to psychosocial care from the diagnosis through completion of therapy and beyond. Innovation requires research to define better ways to identify, treat and prevent psychosocial complications of care. Dr. Madan-Swain and her interdisciplinary team are nationally recognized for their research efforts and innovative care models.