The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.
These Young Investigators will pursue rare disease research in one of five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.
To learn more about the Young Investigator Draft and to purchase tickets click here
Researcher: Dr. Angela Waanders
Category: Rare Cancers
Education: Dr. Waanders did her undergraduate work close to home after receiving a full scholarship to Western Michigan University. She received her masters degree in public health from Tulane University and then stayed in New Orleans for medical school at Tulane.
Research: Waanders summarizes, “My research began in 2007 as a pediatric hematology oncology fellow with a research project using SNP-array technology to profile childhood brain tumors. Since that time, I have been directly involved in the genomic discovery and molecular characterization of brain tumors. My work directly led to the discovery of an activated novel KIAA1549-BRAF fusion oncogene in the majority of pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs). This genomic abnormality has since been found to be a hallmark of PLGGs. After my fellowship, I continued my research in the laboratory of Dr. Adam Resnick. Our initial findings in the March 2013 PNAS journal laid the foundation for understanding BRAF signaling – a type of genetic mutation fusion – and has opened the door to several multi-institutional collaborations. I have since been involved in developing the phenotypic data infrastructure for the multi-institutional Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC), the first of its kind cancer database with specimens linked to prospective longitudinal clinical data collection. As the Executive Board Chair for CBTTC, and as the Director of Clinical Research for the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I have also worked directly with the bioinformatics group to develop our research portal and web-based applications for data viewing and generation. Most recently, I have launched a national initiative to routinely collect post-mortem brain-tumor tissue, including whole brain and spinal cord. This allows us to collect tissue longitudinally from time of diagnosis, progression/recurrence, and at time of death. The current application builds upon my existing scientific roles and disease domain expertise.”
In Their Words: “I’m a physician-scientist involved in clinical care and research on childhood brain and spinal cord tumors. We always need more people doing science. In pediatrics, doing both (physician and scientist) is what a lot of us do.” – Dr. Angela Waanders
Adopted from South Korea at the age of 2 years old, Dr. Waanders grew up with a large family in the small town of Allegen in southwest Michigan. Her mother came from a big family so it’s no surprise she has three older siblings, six nieces, three great nieces and four great nephews.
With all those nieces and nephews you would figure Dr. Waanders would be drawn to pediatric medicine.
That wasn’t exactly the case according to Dr. Waanders.
“I’m a very mission and service oriented person,” said Dr. Waanders, whose hobbies include distance running (she is training to run the Marine Corps Marathon later this year), cooking (and eating), adventures, travel and reading. “Pediatrics and pediatric oncology came later during medical school. I wanted to do Doctors Without Borders or something like that.
“Going through medical school and clinical rotations, the very first patient I took care of in medical school was a pediatric patient. That is what changed it for me.”
Dr. Waanders landed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after medical school where she completed her general pediatrics residence and pediatric hematology oncology fellowship on her way to becoming a well-respected physician-scientist.