April 11, 2017


The SIOP YI-NET Blog is a platform where young investigators worldwide can interact and share

experiences and ideas with one another. Discussion topics focus on issues regarding conducting

research or clinical work in pediatric oncology as well as work-life balance and other practical issues that

are commonly experiences among young investigators.

Please meet the young investigators of SIOP who are facilitating the Blog!



Heather Danysh

I am an Epidemiologist in the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and an Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. My research interests are focused on the environmental determinants of pediatric cancer. I am also working with investigators throughout the state of Texas to evaluate late effects in adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors. Finally, I work closely with other investigators in the Epidemiology Program in the Texas Children’s Cancer Center to design and manage several large-scale epidemiologic investigations. The overall goal of my research is to better understand factors associated with pediatric cancer risk and outcomes to inform novel prevention efforts.



Reineke Schoot

In 2014, I was one of the SIOP young investigator awardees and together with the other awardees, got the opportunity to start the young investigators committee SIOP YI-NET. A year later, in September 2015, I completed my PhD thesis. This thesis involved two different (clinical) research areas: supportive care and late effects. Together with Marianne van de Wetering, I conducted a randomized controlled trial comparing 70% ethanol locks with heparin in pediatric oncology patients with tunneled central venous catheters and found that ethanol locks can reduce the number of catheter related infections. In this same cohort we also evaluated the prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic thrombosis. The second half of my thesis involved studies in head and neck rhabdomyosarcoma survivors. We compared adverse events between two survivor groups with different local treatment approaches in a multi-disciplinary outpatient clinic. To analyze the effect of local treatment on facial growth we took 3D images and studied facial asymmetry. Currently, I am a pediatrician in training and still involved in several research projects. After I finish my training as a pediatrician, I hope to do a fellowship in pediatric oncology.



René Marke

Hi everyone, my name is Rene Marke. Originally from Germany, I have lived in the Netherlands for almost 10 years to pursue my BSc in Medical Biology and an MSc in Molecular Mechanisms of Diseases. After one year of conducting research in Toronto, Canada, at the University Health Network in 2013, I went back to the Netherlands to start my PhD in molecular cancer research. Currently, I am finishing my PhD training in my 4th year focusing on the molecular basis of chemotherapy resistance in acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the Radboudumc Nijmegen. I was awarded the Young Investigator Award during the SIOP conference in 2014 and I am actively involved in setting up the YI-Network since then, first as active member and since 2015 as SIOP-YI board member.



Anna Font Gonzalez

My name is Anna Font-Gonzalez and I am originally from Spain but moved to the Netherlands to pursue my MSc and now my PhD. As a 3rd year PhD student, I have enjoyed the experience and the challenge of the PhD journey, and I like sharing all of this with fellow young researchers within pediatric oncology!



Liliana Vasquez

Hello, my name is Liliana Vasquez. I work as a pediatric oncologist in the Pediatric Oncology Unit of Rebagliati Hospital in Lima, Peru. I have received training in epidemiology and clinical research and recently started a master program. I would like to share experiences as a young investigator from a low/middle-income country and exchange ideas with peers from all over the world. See you in our SIOP YI-NET Blog!



Jess Morgan

I finished medical school in Dundee, Scotland, in 2008 and then worked as a doctor in the NHS for 5 years. I then took a three year fellowship to do my PhD from 2013-2016. My PhD used mixed methods, including quantitative systematic reviewing, meta-ethnography and focus groups discussions, to look at reduced therapies for children with low risk febrile neutropenia. Now, I’m an Academic Clinical Lecturer, meaning I spend 50% of my time in clinical practice, currently as a general paediatric registrar (ST4 for the Brits), but aiming to do paediatric oncology in the future, and 50% in research within the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination in York. My research interests are in supportive care of paediatric haematology and oncology patients. My next project will be looking at the use of blood cultures in paediatrics, with a particular focus on paediatric haematology and oncology. I do a lot of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and am involved in a twinning project between Leeds paediatric oncology team and a health board in Cameroon, supported by World Child Cancer. Outside of work, I love to read, garden and knit (I’m an old lady in a young body!) and am actively involved in my church.




Gemma Bryan

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. I completed my PhD, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, at the University of Manchester in 2010. My thesis was on interventions for the prevention of oral health in patients undergoing cancer therapy. During my time in Manchester, I become involved in the Cochrane Oral health group, and now have a number of Cochrane reviews in dentistry. Since completing my PhD, I have worked on a number of studies looking at communication with families of children with cancer. I am currently working on a longitudinal participant observation study looking at decision making in children with high risk brain tumours, which is funded by the Health Foundation. I joined the SIOP YI committee in 2016 and am a member of the blog working group.



Victoria Forster

I am a postdoctoral fellow at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.  I joined the SIOP YI committee in 2016 and am a part of the blog and social media working groups.  I’m currently preparing my first article for the blog about how young investigators use social media and how to get started for anyone who wants to begin.  My research interests are fairly broad! My current position is looking at a rare cancer predisposition syndrome, whereby children develop numerous cancers in childhood, but I also have ongoing projects looking at the long-term neurological side effects of childhood leukaemia treatment.  I’m also interested in how parents and caregivers of children with cancer use social media to connect with each other throughout their experience.


David S

David Steffin

I am currently a post-doctoral clinical fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital, affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA.  I completed my medical training at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and my pediatric residency at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn in New York City. My clinical interests are in stem cell transplant, neuro-oncology, and cellular therapies.  My current research is in the field of targeted therapies, specifically optimizing CAR T cells in the treatment of high grade gliomas.



Austin Brown

I am an Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and a faculty member of the Epidemiology Program in the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. My training includes a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Texas and a post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Epidemiology with Baylor College of Medicine’s NCI-funded R25 Training Program in Pediatric Cancer Epidemiology and Control. As an independent investigator, the goal of my research is to apply novel epidemiologic methods and population-based molecular approaches in an effort to characterize the adverse outcomes of cancer treatment. Primarily, I am interested in how cancer treatments interact with host genetic factors to contribute to long-term complications among pediatric cancer patients. Eventually, I anticipate this work will provide new insight into the molecular architecture underlying the susceptibility to treatment-related toxicity, presenting new opportunities to identify and stratify high risk patients.



Fernando Carceller

I trained as a paediatrician in Spain and subsequently specialized in paediatric oncology. I am currently working at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, UK. My main research interests include CNS tumours, neuroblastoma, functional imaging and drug development.



Jonathan Fisher

I’m a London based paediatrician but I’m delaying my clinical training to pursue my research interest in immunotherapy of solid and haematological malignancies.  I use synthetic biology to generate T-cells that can specifically target cancer cells without bystander toxicity.  At present I am in the first year of a Wellcome Trust Clinical Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at the UCL Institute of Child Health.  I also run a consultancy business, engaging with companies who wish to develop electronic health record systems for use in paediatric oncology.



Carmen Soto

My name is Carmen and I describe myself as a Paediacademiatrician – half academic and half paediatrician. Both parts of my work are equally important to me – and equally fascinating.  My research looks at how children and families interact with health services.  I’m especially interested in how children, families and professionals work together to make decisions about their care, and the different factors that influences the decisions they make.  I’ve just submitted my PhD thesis which looked at how the risk of infection is managed in children with invasive devices (such as central lines) when they live at home.  The decisions that families and professionals make about how to balance risk are very different, and finding common ground can be challenging. Exploring how that partnership works, even when partners disagree about what’s best for that child, is complex.  But it’s important to understand so that families get the best support possible. I use qualitative research methods to try and understand how and why people make the decisions they do.  Understanding more about the difficulties that families face, and the expertise that families develop in caring for their child has made me question my own clinical practice.  Hopefully, it’s making me a better doctor too!



Marinka Hol

My name is Marinka Hol, during medical school I developed an interest in Head and Neck surgery. After spending 6 months in Indonesia performing cleft surgery with a charity team I started my PhD project at the Head and Neck surgery/maxillofacial surgery department at the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2015. My research focusses on the adverse early and late effects following the treatment for head and neck sarcoma in the paediatric population. At this point there are several treatment options for head and neck rhabdomyosarcoma which all have a similar survival rate, however the late effects i.e., growth deformation, speech impairment, dental development, eye disorders and endocrine functions might be very different for the different treatment modalities. Therefore we hope to develop a prediction model concerning these late effects in order to advise the optimal treatment for each specific patient based on tumour and patient characteristics.


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Katrina O’Halloran

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and was first introduced to the field of pediatric oncology through a research project at the Child and Family Research Institute at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.  In 2009 I moved to Dublin, Ireland a second home for me where I have many relatives and I attended medical school at the University College Dublin.  I am currently a pediatric resident at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and am applying for pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship.  I have a particular interest in neuro-oncology, a field where there is so much more to be done. I recently attended the SIOP Congress in Dublin and was very fortunate to participate in the Educational Day for Young Investigators.  What a fantastic experience!  I found the day exceptionally helpful and left feeling inspired and invigorated by the international network of young investigators in pediatric oncology.  I am now a SIOP Young Investigator member and am on the Mentorship and Social Media committees.  Welcome to our network!




Jack Brzezinski

I am a paediatric oncologist in Toronto, Canada now doing postdoctoral research training while continuing a clinical practice. My clinical interest is in solid tumours – renal tumours in particular. My research interest is in molecular genetics. I’ve combined those two interests by utilizing arrays and next generation sequencing to better understand the molecular biology of Wilms Tumours. I was a SIOP YI Awardee in 2016 and have been a part of the YI committee since then.




Claudia Pasqualini

I have been working at Gustave Roussy in the Children and Adolescent Oncology Unit since 2012. My main focus of interest are neuroblastoma and immunology. I have been working at the writing of the next HR-NBL2 protocol within the SIOPEN and at the understanding of the mechanism of action of anti-GD2 antibodies for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. The other main subject of my research is the characterization of the tumor microenvironment at diagnosis and at relapse for children with high-risk tumors.


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