Smash Childhood Cancer is a global research collaboration, led by Dr. Godfrey Chan at the Hong Kong University.

Hong Kong University

Hong Kong University

Hong Kong, China

The Hong Kong University is one of the top 50 Universities in the world where cancer immunology and genetics are part of the research focus at the Department of Pediatrics. The Department has been involved in many international clinical trials on using new drugs for childhood cancers.

Research Team

Dr. Godfrey Chi-Fung Chan

Godfrey Chi-Fung Chan, MD, DMD, MSc

Tsao Yen-Chow Endowed Professor of Pediatrics
Head & Chief of Service
Department of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Hong Kong University, China
Smash Childhood Cancer Principal Investigator

Dr. Chan is a pediatric oncologist and researcher focused on translational medical research and clinical trials. He has earned several International Awards (ANR, SIOP, ASPR, Endeavor Executive Award-Australian Government) for his clinical and laboratory research works on childhood neurogenic tumors and stem cells biology. He is currently the Continental Chairman (Africa, Asia and Australia) of Advance Neuroblastoma Research and Executive Committee Member of SIOPEN (European Neuroblastoma) group.

Dr. Chan is also the Director of Molecular Laboratory for Traditional Chinese Medicine (New Drug Screening for Immunology & Cancer) & Deputy Director of the Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Consortium (Clinical Application of Mesenchymal Stem Cells), The University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Chan's specialty is the screening and development of new drugs targeting known or newly defined molecules (i.e. beta-catenin).


Dr. Akira Nakagawara

Akira Nakagawara, MD, PhD

CEO, Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN
Previously: Smash Childhood Cancer Principal Investigator

Dr. Akira Nakagawara is a pediatric oncologist and molecular biologist, and previously worked as a pediatric surgeon. He is a winner of several prizes including the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund Prize in 2008 and the Japan Cancer Society Prize in 2013. He held a number of domestic and international congresses as a president.

Dr. Nakagawara is also a CEO of the Saga Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator in Tosu (Saga HIMAT) that treats cancer patients with carbon particle beam radiation. Dr. Nakagawara is also President Emeritus of the Chiba Cancer Center. His specialties include the identification of molecular targets from high-risk solid tumors in children, and the screening and development of new drugs targeting the identified molecules.

Dr. Hideki Izum

Hideki Izumi, PhD

Head, Laboratory of Molecular Medicine
Life Science Research Institute, Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN

Dr. Hideki Izumi is the Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Life Science Research Institute, Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN. He is an expert scientist with over 25 years of experience in the field of Molecular Oncology, and his main interest is to understand the mechanisms of asymmetric cell division of neuroblastoma (stem) cells as well as drug development to cure patients with pediatric cancer.

Yuanyuan Li

Yuanyuan Li, PhD

Research Fellow
Life Science Research Institute, Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN

Dr. Yuanyuan Li received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in March 2004, at Fukushima Medical University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan. She then joined Dr. Nakagawara’s laboratory at the Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanism of tumorigenesis and spontaneous regression of neuroblastoma, as well as the development of innovative therapeutics for neuroblastoma, which is one of the most common pediatric malignant solid tumors.

Atsushi Nagatomo

Atsushi Nagatomo

Vice Head, Department of Medical Information
Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN

Mr. Atsushi Nagatomo works as an expert of medical information and applies innovative development of new systems to improve hospital management. He is also interested in forming a regional network of practical medicine through the ICT system, and in establishing clinical databases.

Tyuji Hoshino

Tyuji Hoshino, PhD

Associate Professor
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Physical Chemistry
Chiba University, Japan

Dr. Hoshino received his PhD from Waseda University, Japan. After three years as a Research Associate at Waseda University, he was appointed as a faculty member of the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Chiba University, Japan. Dr. Hoshino's key role in the project is to prepare the input data required to generate research tasks for World Community Grid volunteers.

Dr. Charles Keller

Charles Keller, MD

Scientific Director and Member
Children's Cancer Therapy Development Institute, Beaverton, Oregon USA

Dr. Keller's research focuses on the development of more effective, less toxic therapies for childhood cancers. His special interest is advanced disease that has spread beyond the initial location of the cancer or which makes the tumor unresectable.

Dr. Keller has co-chaired the brain tumor developmental therapeutics committee (CNS-DVL) of the Children's Oncology Group and is a member of the soft tissue sarcoma (STS) committee of Children’s Oncology Group. He has also regularly been a standing or ad hoc member of NIH/NCI Study Sections.

Dr. Keller attended Tulane University where he received a degree in Biomedical Engineering prior to attending Baylor College of Medicine where he received his M.D. degree. After completing his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. Keller trained in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the University of Utah and with 2007 Nobel laureate, Mario Capecchi. Dr. Keller has authored over 100 scientific publications and is a recognized expert in the biology of childhood sarcomas and the preclinical investigation of childhood cancers.

Dr. Ching C. Lau

Ching C. Lau, MD, PhD, FAAP

Director, Hematology-Oncology Center
Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Professor, Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
Head, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Dr. Lau is a pediatric oncologist and researcher focused on developing genomic medicine in pediatric oncology. His research interests include the molecular biology of pediatric brain and bone tumors and the clinical applications of genomic technologies. He is a strong advocate for team science research in academia and is experienced in leading National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded multi-disciplinary teams of research, including being the principal investigator of the Director’s Challenge Project on osteosarcoma and the COG project on genome-based prognostic markers of ependymoma, as well as co-principal investigator of the project on the molecular taxonomy of medulloblastoma and a member of the Steering Committee of the NCI’s Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS) Program and the NCI Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) Consortium. In addition, he is a key investigator in the Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Immunogenomics Dream Team. He was also the Principal Investigator of the Genotyping Core for the NCI-funded International Gliogene Consortium.

Dr. Lau's specialty is the development of new biomarkers and targeted therapies for pediatric brain and bone tumors including craniopharyngioma (beta catenin) and osteosarcoma.

Dr. Joanna Gell

Joanna Gell, MD

Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Research Scientist, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Dr. Gell is a physician-scientist, working in the field of pediatric oncology. As a physician who treats pediatric and young adults with cancers, her goal is to identify ways to successfully treat cancer without all of the acute and long-term toxicities that often come with treatment. Her research focuses on understanding the biology of rare tumors, such as germ cell tumors. Additionally, Dr. Gell has training in stem cell biology and utilizing stem cells to model cancer development.

Dr. Gell attended the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. She then completed a pediatric residency at the Medical University of South Carolina and a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles. It was during fellowship that she developed a passion for stem cell biology and germ cell tumor biology. She joined Dr. Ching Lau at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in 2019, where she will continue working on germ cell tumors, with a focus on intracranial germ cell tumors.

Dr. Yasuhiro Yamada

Yasuhiro Yamada, PhD

Professor, Laboratory of Stem Cell Oncology, Department of Life Science Frontiers, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University

Dr. Yasuhiro Yamada is a Professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, Japan. He was qualified as a pathologist from The Japanese Society of Pathology. He did his post-doctoral research at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he investigated the role of DNA methylation on the development of colon cancer. He took up current position in 2010. He is currently trying to use iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cell technology as a tool to actively modify epigenetic regulation of cancer cells, aiming to dissect the role of epigenetic regulations on cancer cells, which could be a potential therapeutic target for cancer. Particularly, he focuses on epigenetic regulation of pediatric solid tumors and applies the understanding to develop a novel therapeutic strategy for pediatric cancers.