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Research Labs

Our division is home to eight cutting-edge research labs, all conducting work that could change patients’ lives.

Davis Lab

Some forms of childhood leukemia are very difficult to treat and are prone to relapse. One of these, B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP ALL), accounts for the most deaths in children with cancer. Kara Davis leads this lab’s work on this form of leukemia. Researchers are investigating protein expression in the disease, focusing on B-cells’ resistance to treatment. 



Gruber Lab

Under the leadership of Division Chief, Tanja Gruber, the Gruber Lab’s current work focuses on studing the molecular pathogenesis of high-risk pediatric acute leukemia. We focus on two subtypes of leukemia: infantile Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia (AMKL). Both subtypes carry a poor prognosis with overall survival of less than 50% with current treatment protocols. We are working to gain a better understanding of these diseases at the molecular level through to aid in the development of novel, targeted therapies to improve outcomes for these patients.

Majzner Lab

Under the leadership of Robbie Majzner, the Majzner Lab’s current work focuses on imparting multi-specificity to CAR T cells and optimizing these receptors to enhance their efficacy when the amount of target (antigen density) is limiting. By drawing on state of the art bioengineering techniques, the Majzner Lab focuses on enhancing the potency and specificity of CAR T cells for children with cancer.



Sage Lab

This lab focuses on cell proliferation both under normal conditions and in diseases such as cancer. Led by Julien Sage, the lab combines genetic, genomics, and proteomics approaches to investigate genes and pathways involved in cancer, with an emphasis on stem cells. The Sage Lab pursues translational research, both investigating fundamental biological processes and initiating clinical trials.

Gawad Lab

Studying evolution at cellular resolution. Led by Charles Gaward, The Gawad lab works at the interface of biotechnology, computational biology, cellular biology, and clinical medicine. We take pride in our ability to think creatively to devise innovative solutions to challenging biological questions. We are focused on studying how the genomes of individual cells evolve when placed under selection pressure, and aim to understand how that genetic diversity contributes to human health and disease.

Mackall Lab

Headed by Crystal Mackall, this lab is researching the role of T cell immune response in children’s cancer treatment, with a goal of enhancing existing cancer immunotherapies and developing new ones. Researchers study T cell exhaustion in cancer patients and how tumors suppress immune response. Committed to translational bench-to-bedside work, the lab conducts basic studies alongside clinical trials.





Narla Lab

Research has uncovered a connection between ribosomal abnormalities and several rare congenital syndromes that cause bone marrow failure and other problems. Anupama Narla leads this lab focused on the molecular study of ribosomal dysfunction, and how it leads to bone marrow failure and problems in blood cell development. The lab’s researchers are also investigating how specific drugs could help patients with these disorders.

Sakamoto Lab

Under the leadership of Kathleen Sakamoto, this lab studies gene regulation in the development of blood cells, known scientifically as hematopoiesis. The team has developed novel therapies to treat a variety of hematologic diseases, including acute myeloid leukemia. Novel research in the Sakamoto lab also focuses on bone marrow failure and related diseases.