Leading Pediatric Cancer Researcher Dr. Ching C. Lau Joins UConn Health

Dr. Ching C. Lau, a leading expert in pediatric brain and bone tumor research, has just joined UConn School of Medicine, Connecticut Children's Medical Center and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.

Ching C. Lau, M.D., Ph.D.

Top pediatric cancer researcher, Ching C. Lau, M.D., Ph.D., is the newly appointed head of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics at UConn School of Medicine. (Photo: The Jackson Laboratory)

UConn School of Medicine, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) for Genomic Medicine have made their first joint appointment: the distinguished pediatric oncologist and cancer researcher Ching C. Lau, M.D., Ph.D.

Lau will serve as the medical director of hematology-oncology at Connecticut Children’s, as professor at JAX where he will specialize in pediatric brain and bone tumor research, and as head of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics at UConn School of Medicine. His clinical interests include neuro-oncology, solid tumors and osteosarcoma.

Lau is focused on accelerating the pace and success rate of clinical trials in pediatric cancer patients. “Although the incidence of cancer among children is much lower than that in adults,” he says, “it can be just as deadly. And because of the smaller number of patients available, clinical trials of new treatments for pediatric cancers are conducted at a much slower pace. Typically patients are enrolled in clinical trials after their cancers progress or are found not to be responsive to standard therapy.”

As a result, he says, pediatric cancer patients are exposed to side effects of standard therapy without therapeutic benefit. “This is a particularly serious problem for children because they are still undergoing normal growth and are particularly vulnerable to the side effects of anti-cancer drugs.”

“Dr. Lau represents a phenomenal intellectual bridge between JAX, Connecticut Children’s and UConn School of Medicine,” said Charles Lee, Ph.D., FACMG, scientific director and professor at JAX Genomic Medicine. “Together, our three institutions will use new and sophisticated genomic technologies to better understand pediatric brain and bone cancers and develop new therapeutic treatments for our patients.”

“We welcome Dr. Lau to Connecticut and know with his leadership and expertise, our collaborative institutions’ great synergies will advance translational research for pediatric cancers, and especially difficult to treat brain tumors,” said Dr. Bruce T. Liang, dean, UConn School of Medicine.

By using the combined approach of genomic medicine and accurate mouse models to choose the best therapy for each patient, Lau hopes to improve the speed and outcome of clinical trials as well as to reduce unnecessary side effects for children with cancer.

“Dr. Lau’s expertise in the molecular biology and epidemiology of brain and bone tumors, as well as the applications of 21st century genomics to the care of children and young adults diagnosed with these life threatening tumors, will make Connecticut Children’s one of the top pediatric cancer treatment centers in the country,” said Dr. Juan C Salazar, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at UConn School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Connecticut Children’s.

Lau comes to Connecticut from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he was head of the Cancer Genomics Program and Molecular Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, and was also co-director of the Pediatrics Program at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

“We are thrilled to expand research initiatives and quality of care with the recent appointment of Dr. Ching Lau to Connecticut Children’s, JAX and UConn School of Medicine,” said Dr. James E. Shmerling, president and CEO of Connecticut Children’s. “Dr. Lau is a world class clinician whose medical expertise will continue to strengthen and evolve our mission in the fight against pediatric cancer.”