Global Child Health students receive SIOP Young Investigator Awards

The awards recognize outstanding early-career scientists and clinicians for original research related to multicenter studies and large translational projects.

Two clinicians enrolled in the Global Child Health master’s program of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences were awarded Young Investigator Awards from the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP).

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, MD, and Sanjeeva Gunasekera, MD, were recognized for their research in childhood cancer. The awards recognize outstanding young scientists and clinicians for original research, especially related to multicenter studies and large translational projects. Global Child Health master’s student Liliana Vasquez Ponce, MD, won a SIOP Young Investigator Award in 2015.

Radhakrishnan was honored for his study, “Olanzapine versus metoclopramide for the treatment of breakthrough chemotherapy induced vomiting in children: an open label, randomized Phase 3 trial.”

Gunasekera was recognized for research titled, “A prospective study on availability of essential medicines for treatment of childhood cancer in Sri Lanka.” Cancer patients’ access to essential medicines is one of his primary research interests. 

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, MD, encourages collaboration on clinical trials

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, MD

A professor in Medical and Pediatric Oncology at the Cancer Institute (W.I.A) in Chennai, India, Radhakrishnan is the principal investigator for seven ongoing clinical trials, including three multi-center studies. He is committed to promoting pediatric cancer research in low- and middle-income countries, which he believes should collaborate on clinical trials in order to focus on problems specific to under-resourced regions because localized research data could improve clinical outcomes better than extrapolating findings from research in higher-income countries.

Radhakrishnan holds a DM in medical oncology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and an MD from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, London.

Sanjeeva Gunasekera, MD, raises awareness of global disparities in childhood cancer

Sanjeeva Gunasekera, MD

Sanjeeva Gunasekera, MD

While completing a fellowship at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital (UK) Gunasekera recognized the global disparities in cancer care, which inspired him to explore the barriers to cancer care in low-income communities and cancer policy. He is a consultant in pediatric and adolescent oncology at the National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka. He holds an MD from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Global Child Health program promotes innovative thinking and collaboration

The Global Child Health Master’s Program attracts students from around the world for advanced training in the delivery of timely and effective health care to children who need it. The program’s distance-learning model, with recorded lectures and assignments, enables health care professionals around the world to participate. Courses are taught by faculty and staff of the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine, which sponsors large-scale initiatives to improve the survival rates of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

“We are very proud of the recognition that Dr. Gunasekera and Dr. Radhakrishnan have received from SIOP for innovative research with potential impact on both domestic and global communities,” said Shaloo Puri, MD, associate dean and director of Global Graduate Studies. “Our graduate program continues to attract outstanding health care professionals committed to strengthening health systems and improving access to, and delivery of, effective care and treatment of childhood diseases.”

SIOP and the Young Investigators Network

Based in Geneva, the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) is the lead organization concerned with the issues of children and young people who have cancer. The SIOP Young Investigator Network represents the interests of young investigators in the field of pediatric oncology. It provides a platform for these individuals to develop research and scientific skills, and facilitates an international research network with other young investigators in pediatric oncology. A SIOP young investigator is a SIOP member or associate member under the age of 40, from any clinical or academic background, No postgraduate qualifications are required.