Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at Northwestern
The Cure Starts Now recently sat down and had a conversation with leading DIPG researcher, Dr. Oren Becher:
Why did you decide to focus your research on DIPG/DMG?
"When I was training to become a pediatric oncologist at MSKCC, I cared for a few children with DIPG, and learned very quickly that practically no one was doing research on DIPG/DMG. This was around 2006-2007. This motivated me to choose to focus on DIPG for my research. I felt that research was the only way to one day change the outcome for these unlucky children."
What are some of the greatest advancements you have seen with DIPG/DMG research?
"The greatest advancement is likely the discovery of the histone mutations in DIPG. These mutations termed onco-histones are still a subject of intense research and it is still a bit unclear if they are mainly important in tumor initiation or tumor maintenance and whether they can be targeted therapeutically."
What have been the biggest hurdles for you with your research?
"The biggest hurdle is the limited number of human DIPG samples for research."
What have been your biggest accomplishments with your work?
"Our biggest accomplishments is the development of genetic models for DIPG/DMG. These models are important as they can be generated de novo, in mice with a normal immune system, allowing us to dissect how these tumors arise and evolve over time."
How has The Cure Starts Now and the Homerun Cure strategy helped you achieve larger cure objective?
"The Cure Starts Now and Homerun Cure has been a steady source of support for my lab over the years allowing my laboratory to explore various high-risk strategies in order to advance our understanding of DIPG."
Tell us something interesting about yourself that others might not know (ie. Do you play an instrument, have a hidden talent or just an interesting fact about you)
"I love to exercise and run about 9 miles each morning (seven days per week on average). I also love to snowboard (I have my own snowboard)."
Learn more about Dr. Becher's research funded by The Cure Starts Now: