Tom Curran, Ph.D., FRS

  • Chair, Basic Cancer Research Peer Review Panel 1
    Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of the Children’s Mercy Children’s Research Institute

Research Focus

Dr. Curran discovered the Fos oncogene and its binding partner, p39, which he later showed was the product of the Jun oncogene. His laboratory demonstrated that Fos and Jun function as inducible transcription factors that regulate gene expression in response to extracellular stimuli associated with proliferation, differentiation, cell death and neuronal activation. This work elucidated the signal transduction pathways that go awry in cancer cells and has initiated the use of Fos as a marker for activity-dependent changes in the nervous system.

His laboratory also uncovered redox regulation of mammalian transcription factors by Ref-1, which also functions as a DNA repair protein. In addition, he identified the gene Reelin and elaborated a signaling pathway that controls neuronal positioning in the developing brain.

Dr. Curran recently developed a high-incidence model of pediatric medulloblastoma with which he demonstrated that orally-bioavailable, small molecule inhibitors of Hedgehog signaling rapidly eliminate even large tumors in mice. This work led to clinical development of inhibitors for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma.

Education

University of Edinburgh (Scotland), B.Sc. (Honors), Biological Sciences
Imperial Cancer Research Fund & University College (London), Ph.D., Zoology and Anatomy
Salk Institute, Postdoctoral, Molecular Oncology

Other Experience

Member, NIH Study Section Cellular Biology and Physiology 2
Member, Scientific Review Board, Hoffmann La Roche, Inc.
Member, NCI Initial Review Group Committee Subcommittee C
President, American Association for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors

Selected Honors

Passano Foundation Young Scientist Award
Rita Levi Montalcini Award in Neurosciences
Tenovus-Scotland Medal, Glasgow University, Scotland
American Association for Cancer Research, for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award
Golgi Award, Italian Academi of Neuroscience and the Camillo Golgi Foundation, Brescia, Italy
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology
Highly Cited Scientist by Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in three categories; Neuroscience,
Molecular Biology & Genetics, and Microbiology
Javitz Neuroscience Investigator Award, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH
Peter M. Steck Memorial Award for Brain Tumor research
LIMA International Award for Excellence in Pediatric Brain Tumor Research, Pediatric Brain Tumor FD
Fellow of the Royal Society
Member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
American Association for Cancer Research Academy