Dr. Balis Named Director of Cancer Research

Published on in CHOP News

October 5, 2009 — Frank M. Balis, MD, a nationally prominent expert in designing treatments for pediatric cancers, has joined The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as director of clinical research of Cancer Center, as well as for the hospital’s Center for Childhood Cancer Research.

Dr. Balis, whose 27-year career at the federally sponsored National Cancer Institute (NCI) most recently included six years as the Institute’s Clinical Director, will:

  • Oversee all aspects of clinical research on pediatric cancer
  • Lead efforts to develop pivotal early-phase clinical trials
  • Work with other hospital leaders to implement a broad strategic plan in clinical oncology trials
  • Expand existing strong clinical research programs in neuroblastoma, brain tumors and leukemia
  • Establish additional clinical research programs in pediatric sarcomas and lymphomas
  • Lead training of the next generation of pediatric cancer clinical researchers

Cancer research expertise

During his tenure at the NCI, Dr. Balis’s research program focused on drug development for childhood cancers, and he has nearly 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers to his credit.

He has extensive expertise in many aspects of drug development, but is most prominent for his seminal contributions to intrathecal administration, a method of delivering anticancer drugs directly to the spinal fluid that has allowed doctors to abandon the use of craniospinal radiation in treating most children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

In addition, his laboratory work has been essential to getting many compounds into early clinical trials, from which they have advanced to current use as anticancer therapies.

Professional recognition

Dr. Balis has been honored with numerous professional awards including the Outstanding Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service, an NCI Mentor of Merit Award, and an NIH Award of Merit.