Top executives at the Grand Rapids-based Van Andel Research Institute Tuesday announced the creation of the VARI Pediatric Cancer Translational Research Program, which will unite basic research and clinical care through a nationwide consortium of partners.

The program is focused on the development of new, safe and effective treatments for children with cancer, and includes the key appointment of nationally recognized pediatric oncologist Giselle Sholler, M.D. Sholler becomes co-director of the program along with Craig Webb, director of VARI’s program of translational medicine. She also receives joint clinical and academic appointments from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

The VARI program will enable large-scale projects that will use the latest genomics and molecular analysis techniques to identify the best treatment options for children based on the individual biology of their tumor, a process often referred to as “personalized medicine.”

Sholler also continues her role as chair of the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium, a group of 11 universities and children’s hospitals that will now be headquartered at VARI, which offers a nationwide network of childhood cancer clinical trials.

Sholler has chaired the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium since its founding in 2008. The NMTRC members form a nationwide network of childhood cancer clinical trials, and in addition to VARI, include the following clinical partners: Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St. Louis University School of Medicine; Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando; Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics; Connecticut Children’s Medical Center; Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University; Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; Levine Children’s Hospital; Medical University of South Carolina; National Cancer Institute; Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, UCSD School of Medicine; and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.

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