I am a physician scientist with a major focus on two aspects of the pediatric solid tumor neuroblastoma, identifying molecular targets that can be translated into novel therapies and understanding the perturbations that occur during development to drive neuroblastoma initiation and progression. Following our recent discovery of activating, small-molecule inhibitor-sensitive somatic mutations in the ALK tyrosine kinase in primary tumors, we are investigating mechanisms of ALK activation and regulation in neuroblastoma as well as strategies to inhibit ALK activity that can be used therapeutically. The translational research program in my laboratory integrates basic developmental and cancer biology, genome-wide analysis of tumor samples, drug development and clinical trials targeting molecular aberrations in neuroblastoma. The second focus of my laboratory is understanding the development of the sympathetic nervous system, with particular emphasis on the PHOX2B transcription factor, a master regulator of noradrenergic differentiation and a gene that is mutated in congenital neuroblastomas. Using both zebrafish and cell culture systems the effects of mutant PHOX2B and its interactions are being investigated.