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Cancer Study Success
Research & Clinical Trials
Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Research Transforming Care: Care Transformed by Research
At the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD), our impressive team of pediatric specialists is as committed to researching new treatments and cures as they are to providing the very highest level of clinical care for children.
Through the combined expertise of physicians and researchers across our children’s health system (at sites in Delaware and Florida), we have almost unmatched resources available to bring the latest advances in science from the laboratory bench to the bedside, to share information, and to arrive at best practices in children’s health.
Marissa was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer, when she was 17 years old.
Comprehensive, Leading-Edge Research
At the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD), we operate focused programs in pediatric cancer research (the Nemours Center for Childhood Cancer Research) and sickle cell disease (the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Program). Our federally funded, comprehensive hemophilia program in Jacksonville also serves our patients in Pensacola and Orlando.
Everything we do at the bedside impacts our research — and everything we learn in the lab impacts our care. Our success is attributed to our cross-campus collaboration, and the hard work and dedication of our coordinators and investigators. We work together with two common goals: To find a cure and to reduce side effects.
Progress in pediatric cancer and blood disorders comes from participation in collaborative clinical research. We do this research because we believe it will benefit our current patients and children diagnosed in the future.
- improves the quality of care
- provides access to state-of-the-art therapies in a safe and controlled environment
- ensures that we never miss an opportunity to do better for our patients and families
Across all of our sites, we support (and often lead) many Children’s Oncology Group (COG) clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies, with ongoing collaboration among our clinicians, hematology/oncology specialists and researchers. At any given time, we’re involved in about 100 COG and 25 non-COG clinical trials — many of our patients participate in clinical trials of one type or other. We also conduct additional studies in our research labs.
NCCBD has been a full member of the Children’s Oncology Group (since it formed in 2000) and a founding member of the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP). Nemours locations in Delaware and Florida also have received accreditation from the internationally recognized Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) — a group of leading experts that recognizes our work in the field of blood and bone marrow transplantation.
Our other research partnerships also include:
- Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU)
- The Hemophilia Alliance
- Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
- Sarcoma Alliance for Research Through Collaboration (SARC)
- St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
- SunCoast Research Base (formerly the Moffitt Research Base)
- Sunshine Project
- University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute
Our Principal Investigators
At the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD), pediatric cancer research is very much a group effort. Our physicians not only deliver care, they’re actively involved with research and in constant contact with the research scientists in our labs. And we're fortunate to have excellent leadership. Our physician leaders participate or play a leadership role in a variety of national cancer organizations and studies.
The program is led by Dr. Kolb, who’s heavily involved in advanced research programs to find new cancer drugs that are more effective, with fewer side effects. A founding member of the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) and the newly appointed chair of the Myeloid Disease Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), Dr. Kolb also led the effort to obtain Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) accreditation for Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware.
In addition, Dr. Kolb is the director of the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). He’s on a number of COG and Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC) committees, and a member of the Pediatric Working Group of the American Association of Cancer Research.
In 2000, when the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) was first formed, Dr. Frantz led the hospital to becoming a full member. He became the hospital’s division chief in 2003 and its COG principal investigator in 2009. Dr. Frantz has been a member since 1995 of the Pediatric Editorial Board’s PDQ (Physician Data Query) National Cancer Information Systems sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. He’s also a member of the COG voting body and on a number of COG committees and study committees.
Learn More About Dr. Frantz
Dr. Miller serves as Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware’s “Cancer Control Champion” for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). She’s also the director of the Sickle Cell Program at the hospital and has been awarded the Delaware End-of-Life Coalition Physician Excellence Award.
Learn More About Dr. Miller
Dr. Sandler serves as director of National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and associate director of NCCBD. Dr. Sandler is on several Children’s Oncology Group (COG) committees, including the Voting Body Steering committee, and is a member of the COG voting body.
He has chaired or served on study committees for a number of clinical trials and has been the Jacksonville institutional Principal Investigator for COG since 2000. He also serves on the Cancer Control Subcommittee on Nutrition, Florida Governor’s Cancer Control and Research Advisory Board, Board of Directors of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and as chair of the Nemours Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Dr. Sandler was also honored with the National Lane Adams Award for compassionate care from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Bradfield is our “Cancer Control Champion” for Florida, and a committee member of our National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). Dr. Bradfield is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Mayo School of Medicine and associate division chief at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville.
He has been the cancer committee chairman in Jacksonville for many years, emphasizing quality of care with improved outcomes. His main research focus is in cancer control, currently serving as the study principal investigator for a Suncoast Research Base cancer study.
A nationally recognized expert in pediatric bleeding disorders, Dr. Gauger has been at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville since 2000. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida Medical School. She also serves as the medical director of the Hemophilia Treatment Center and is very active with the national and state Hemophilia Foundations.
Dr. Gauger’s primary areas of interest are in hemostasis (a process which causes bleeding to stop), sickle cell disease thrombosis (blood clots in sickle cell patients) and benign hematology (the study of blood, blood-forming organs and blood diseases).
Dr. Joyce has been with Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville since 1990 and has run our hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) program since 1994. He currently serves as both the overall program director and director of the pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program of the Mayo Clinic, Nemours Children’s Specialty Care and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Since 2004, he’s also served as the chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which ensures that safe research protocols are followed and that participants are protected for the Baptist Health Care System. Dr. Joyce’s interests include stem cell and umbilical cord blood transplantation.
At our Nemours Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Health, Downtown Orlando, Dr. Nagasubramanian is the division chief of pediatric hematology-oncology for our clinic, and has a distinguished history in cancer care and research. He is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) voting body, and serves as the site lead investigator for our Orlando site.
Learn More About Dr. Nagasubramanian
Leader in Pediatric Oncology Research
One of Only Three National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Programs (NCORPs) in the Country
The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD) is one of only three pediatric National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Programs (NCORPs) in the United States. Through a $4.65 million NCORP (pronounced “en-cor”) award, all four of Nemours’ core pediatric oncology (cancer) locations participate:
- Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (in Wilmington, Del.)
- Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville (in Jacksonville, Fla.)
- Nemours Children’s Hospital (in Orlando)
The NCORP award acknowledges that Nemours is a fully integrated pediatric cancer network with excellence in clinical research, clinical care and quality improvement.
The Goals of Our NCORP
The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is considered an NCORP “community site.” That means each of our locations strives to:
- increase community engagement in the care of children with cancer by enrolling participants in clinical trials (research studies that evaluates the use of a new intervention — such as a new drug, device, treatment or technique — on human subjects with a particular disease or condition)
- better understand the science of delivering high-quality pediatric cancer care in the community setting — including treatment, symptom and pain management, and outcomes (e.g., survival rates and side effects)
- reduce childhood cancer care disparities (differences or inequalities) and expand access to care for underserved minority and socioeconomic populations.
Why Is “Community-Based Cancer Research” So Important?
There are a number of reasons why our pediatric NCORP can make a big impact on caring for children with cancer. But the bottom line is that community-based cancer research allows kids to get high-quality pediatric oncology care while staying close to you, their friends and support systems, as well as their own local doctors and health organizations.
Clinical trials need a certain number of participants for the trials to not only start, but for them to succeed in discovering new and better treatment and care options. So the more families and health care providers in your community know about the availability of clinical trials right in their own backyard, the more children can be enrolled in trials to explore treatment options that could increase the chance of a cure — and with fewer treatment side effects.
The Delaware Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Center team members from Nemours and Delaware State University.
At the Forefront of Sickle Cell Disease Research
Renewal of Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Grant Elevates Nemours' Sickle Cell Disease Research
Thanks to a $10.5 million, five-year Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) (Phase 2) grant awarded (P20GM109021) by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD), has established the Delaware Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Center. As a children’s health network, Nemours is poised to become a national leader in sickle cell research, helping to train the next generation of sickle cell researchers.
In the first 5 years of the grant (COBRE, Phase 1), which was initially launched in 2014, Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders Phase 1 approach included:
- Increased access to innovative clinical trails for children with sickle cell disease
- Established a sickle cell genomics program
- Supported collateral research that brought in more than $13 million in federal and private foundation grant funding to Delaware.
- Invested substantially in sickle cell education and clinical programs to improve clinical care for children and young adults with sickle cell disease
- Developed strong collaborations with Delaware State University, Christiana Care Health Services and IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)
A genetic disorder of the red blood cells, sickle cell disease is a chronic and potentially debilitating disease of childhood. In its severe form, sickle cell disease can affect multiple organ systems and ultimately shorten the lifespan. Many patients with sickle cell disease face barriers that may impact their quality of care and health outcomes. Nemours is poised to approach the disease with an effort of awareness and clinical research, that will help promote the challenges patients go through every day. Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is driven by the hope of finding a cure.
The COBRE Grant Phase 2 Goals
Through the COBRE, Phase 2, the Delaware Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Center focuses on continuing to study effective ways to improve care and outcomes for affected children. So the Delaware Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Center will work to:
- prevent sickle cell disease symptoms
- offer families strong psychosocial support
- improve upon phase 1 research infrastructure build
- study the quality of sickle cell disease care
- evaluate genetic approaches to treatment and a cure
- address issues of racism and stigma that lead to poor quality care and patient disenfranchisement
Leader in Sickle Cell Disease Care and Research
Learn About Clinical Trials
A clinical trial is research that evaluates the use of a new intervention (such as a new drug, device, treatment or technique) on human subjects with a particular disease or condition. More children enrolled in clinical trials equals better outcomes for all kids.
Nemours' Clinical Trial Participation and Leadership
With more than 25 years of experience in clinical trials, Nemours is dedicated to offering clinical trials to help improve children’s care now — and hopefully far into the future.
As a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), we’ve invested significant time and effort into improving outcomes through the prevention and treatment of symptoms — increasing participation in cancer control trials (that aim to manage symptoms and reduce treatment side effects) by educating families and community physicians about what these studies are, how they work and why they’re so important.
As a result, Nemours is among the national leaders in participation in symptom management and prevention research. Our focused, well-resourced organizationwide efforts have lead to national recognition and leadership. Each of our locations also has been recognized for outstanding participation in clinical trials, and for clinical trial access and management.
Our ultimate goal — our hope — is for a cure. But in the meantime, we want to give children the very best pediatric oncology and hematology care available, with longer lifespans and fewer short- and long-term side effects. In everything we do, we want to improve the lives of the children we see, as well as those of children everywhere who will never set foot through our doors.
Get Detailed Information to Help You Make an Informed Decision
Wondering if a clinical trial might be right for your child? Learn more about what clinical trials are, how they’re run, and what you need to know to make an informed decision:
- Is a Clinical Trial Right for Your Child? (key information from Nemours’ KidsHealth.org, the No. 1 most-viewed children’s health website in the world)
- Understanding Clinical Trials (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Children and Clinical Studies (Watch a series of videos and get key information from the National Institutes of Health about enrolling your child in a clinical study.)
- NIH Clinical Research Trials and You (This general informational site about clinical trials will help you learn the basics, find a trial, see a glossary of terms, get resources, etc.)
Find a Clinical Trial at Nemours
CyberCell: A Sickle Cell Virtual Reality Experience
Imagine being able to travel inside of your own body. What would it be like to explore and see what is happening? Our team wants to reinvent health education to allow patients and their families to do just that.
Researchers, clinicians and patient education specialists at Nemours Children’s, technology designers at Sam Houston State University, and youth with sickle cell disease and their families are partnering to design, build and test a virtual reality (VR) educational program called CyberCell.
The goal of CyberCell is to provide evidence-based, immersive and interactive education about sickle cell disease and treatment options to stimulate deeper learning and increase motivation for healthy behaviors in teens and young adults with sickle cell disease.
Aimee Hildenbrand, PhD
Pediatric Psychologist & Research Lead
Nemours Children’s Health
Fredric Freeman, MS
Creative Director/VR Design & Development
Sam Houston State University
Sherman Finch, MFA
Art Director, User Interface & Game Mechanics
Sam Houston State University
Corinna Schultz, MD
Nemours Children’s Health
Melanie Pitone, MD
Nemours Children’s Health
Danielle Morley, BSN
Care Coordinator/Patient Education Specialist
Nemours Children’s Health
Benjamin Bear, MSW
Nemours Children’s Health
David Rosario, MA
3D Modeling & Environment Design
Sam Houston State University
We thank the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders for supporting this project. We also thank the patients, families, healthcare providers, and design students and faculty who have contributed to this project.
Want to learn more, get involved or donate to the project? Please contact us.
Email: Aimee Hildenbrand
See how our comprehensive care and research impact the children and families we treat: