Maris Laboratory

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The Maris Lab investigates the molecular and genetic mechanisms contributing to neuroblastoma, a common childhood cancer. The lab also develops new molecular diagnostic tests and less toxic, targeted therapies for relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, including a major effort in immunotherapy discovery and development. The lab aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to improve existing cure rates for neuroblastoma.

Ongoing studies use functional genomics, whole genome sequencing, proteomics, and single cell sequencing to define the landscape of major mutations and cellular changes that make up neuroblastomas at original diagnosis or at disease relapse. The primary goal of the laboratory centers on identifying oncogenic vulnerabilities to be leveraged into new therapies. Tantamount to these efforts is identifying robust biomarkers of drug sensitivities and patient outcomes that can be implemented in the clinic.

The lab fosters teamwork to solve big problems in childhood cancer, leading two immunotherapy efforts spanning basic mechanistic work to clinical trials. The first trial, funded by NCI through the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative, is the Pediatric Immunotherapy Discovery and Development Network, while the second is funded by the St. Baldrick’s and Stand Up to Cancer Foundations.

The Maris Lab also co-leads a program grant on neuroblastoma and several others in diverse disciplines like mutational signatures, alpha-based targeted radiotherapy, modeling of genome-wide association study discoveries in zebrafish, and industry collaborations to test new therapeutic strategies. Thus, the lab represents a dynamic ecosystem of cancer translational science with multiple training opportunities, including access to collaborators at many leading institutions.

The lab is also deeply involved in clinical trials through the Neuroblastoma Developmental Therapy Program, founded by Dr. Maris and now led by Dr. Yael Mossé. Many therapies developed in the lab are tested in clinical trials, and the clinic serves as an extension of the laboratory as samples from the trials routinely flow back to the lab to help the team understand how to improve precision therapies.

Project Highlights

  • Genetic basis of neuroblastoma
  • Epigenomic alterations in neuroblastoma
  • Discovery and development of optimal immunotherapy targets in pediatric cancers
  • Antibody- and T cell-based therapies
  • Drug development for pediatric cancers
Leader

John M. Maris, MD

Attending Physician
Dr. Maris investigates the molecular and genetic mechanisms contributing to the development and progression of neuroblastoma, a common childhood cancer. He also aims to develop new molecular diagnostic tests and less toxic, targeted therapies to treat relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, including a major effort in immunotherapy discovery and development.