Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Jessica Kandel, MD, has focused her research on the pediatric solid tumors Wilms tumor, neuroblastoma, and hepatoblastoma, for which there is poor prognosis despite intensive treatment. Understanding how the COX-2, VEGF, Ang/Tie2, and Notch pathways, through their effects on tumor vasculature, affect tumor growth has provided valuable information on treatment strategies for cancer. More recently, comparing Notch blockade in primary tumors with distant metastatic organs has highlighted the importance of targeted drug therapy.

Related to this concept, Dr. Kandel is interested in harnessing new imaging and delivery techniques to decrease toxicity by early detection of drug effects, as well as through targeted delivery of agents to the tumors using size- selected microbubbles.

Dr. Kandel also lymphatic malformations, poorly understood vascular malformations that affect children and adults. Treatment options for these lesions are limited, largely due to their unknown pathobiology, and pediatric patients currently face a life-long battle with this disease.

Dr. Sonia Hernandez, research associate (assistant professor), studies the interaction between angiopoietin/Tie2 and Notch modulation, and metastasis in neuroblastoma. Recent data suggests that microorganisms can elaborate toxins that disrupt Notch homeostasis in some tissues, leading to impaired host defense mechanisms and metastatic invasion. She is also interested in the vascular complications of diabetes, having studied potential protective factors in patients with 50 years or more of type1 diabetes (Medalists).