Dr Mark Kieran
Dr Kieran is currently director, pediatric medical neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston and associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr Kieran received his undergraduate training in biochemistry at McMaster University and his PhD in immunology at the University of Alberta examining the role of molecular determinates that regulate tumor metastases. This work was followed by the completion of his medical degree at the University of Calgary. Due to the rapid advances in DNA technology, Dr Kieran opted to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France in the Department of Molecular Biology. This work culminated in his seminal publication in the journal Cell on the cloning of NFkB, a key regulator of cellular control. Dr Kieran returned to Canada to complete his pediatric residency at McGill University in Montreal and then a pediatric hematology oncology fellowship at Children’s Hospital, Boston. Returning to the laboratory, his efforts focused on a more detailed understanding of the cellular regulatory pathways that mediate nuclear function.
With a strong research and clinical background, Dr Kieran was selected to build a multidisciplinary program in pediatric neuro-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with a particular focus on novel agents for the treatment of poor prognosis cancers in children. This clinical effort, with the completion of over 30 clinical trials in a variety of tumor types, has been supported by Dr Kieran’s research laboratory. With the identification of the role of angiogenesis and the tumor microenvirnoment in cancer biology, Dr Kieran joined the vascular biology program directed by the late Dr Judah Folkman at Children’s Hospital Boston. Having maintained an independent research laboratory for the last decade, his evaluation of novel agents that target the tumor stroma have resulted in a number of clinical trials. Based on overlapping pathways between cancer and diseases that also result in abnormal cellular function, novel biologic therapy protocols have been extended to other diseases. For example, Dr Kieran has run international clinical trials of multi-agent farnesyltransferase inhibition for children with Progeria (often called the premature aging disease), work that derived from the study of this pathway in malignant tumors of the brain. His efforts have also centered on the identification of commercially available agents that can target both tumor and stroma associated cells. Drug development for pediatric cancer is slow and the availability of novel agents for children will take many years after the testing in adults has been completed. For children with poor prognosis disease, this prolonged timeline is too late. Through multi-institutional trials, Dr Kieran has succeeded in identifying and testing a number of agents in children and his laboratory continues to advance these novel pathway inhibitors with rapid translation to the clinic.
Both science and medicine have become dependent on the formation of strong collaborations and a sense of shared goals. Dr Kieran is a member of the Brain Tumor Steering Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and co-chair of the Malignant Glioma Committee and a member of the Department of Defense (DOD) Neurofibromatosis Consortium Low-Grade Committee. He has also formed a number of multi-institutional collaborations to ensure rapid execution of novel protocols. More recently, these efforts have been extended to the development and support of pediatric oncology programs in developing countries through frequent on site education. He serves as a reviewer for many funding agencies and foundations and is actively engaged in the editorial review for many leading journals.