Skip to main content

Sara Federico, M.D., receives NCI award for her leadership in developing clinical trials for pediatric cancer

Sara Federico, MD, received the NCI award for substantial impact in the field of childhood solid tumors through the development and conduct of clinical trials

Memphis, Tennessee, November 18, 2020

Researcher in lab coat stands in front of a colorful background and smiles.

Sara Federico, MD, of St. Jude Oncology, received the 2020 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (CCITLA) from the National Cancer Institute. 

Sara Federico, M.D., an associate member of the Department of Oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, has received the 2020 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (CCITLA) from the National Cancer Institute.

This award recognizes and supports outstanding mid-career clinical investigators at NCI-designated cancer centers who are working to improve the lives of people with cancer through NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials and whose leadership, participation and activities promote clinical trials and research.

“It is a true honor to receive the NCI 2020 CCITLA," Federico said. "I am passionate about caring for children with solid tumors and developing clinical trials that will improve their survival rates and decrease treatment-related toxicities. Further, I am incredibly grateful to St. Jude for the opportunity it affords me to live my dream every day, to provide world-class care and advance cure rates for children with cancer.”

Federico came to St. Jude in 2007 for a hematology/oncology fellowship and in 2011 joined the St. Jude faculty in the Division of Solid Malignancies in the Department of Oncology. She focuses on the treatment of neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma and was promoted to an associate member in 2017. She is part of the Solid Tumor Division team. This team develops and tests novel therapeutic interventions for the treatment of pediatric solid tumors, particularly those at high risk of treatment failure.

As an attending physician and clinical researcher, Federico writes and conducts clinical trials at St. Jude and through the Children’s Oncology Group. She is the principal investigator of four NCI-funded clinical trials, including an externally funded, multi-site international study for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma. Additionally, she is an associate investigator on four NCI-funded trials and a site principal investigator for another three. Federico is developing the next national phase III high-risk neuroblastoma trial and will serve as principal investigator of this study, which will be conducted through the Children’s Oncology Group.

"Dr. Federico’s work is having substantial impact in the field of childhood solid tumors through the development and conduct of clinical trials," said Charles W.M. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center director, who nominated Federico for the award. "She is dedicated to finding cures for children with cancer, and her work in both neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma is particularly innovative. She is a rising leader at St. Jude and beyond."

Over the next few years, Federico will collaborate with basic and translational researchers on numerous clinical trials. She is completing an international trial for patients with newly diagnosed high-risk neuroblastoma and will open a multi-institutional phase I/II study evaluating PARP inhibitors for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma. Additionally, she will complete development of a phase III randomized trial for patients with newly diagnosed high-risk neuroblastoma.

Federico is one of eight recipients of the CCITLA in 2020.

“These awardees, six women and two men, have outstanding leadership skills and will be conducting NCI-supported clinical trials across many disease sites in a cross-section of the American public including adults, children, adolescents and young adults,” said Sheila Prindiville, M.D., director of the NCI Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials. “These awardees will also be educating and mentoring the next generation of clinical trialists and working to improve community engagement and access to clinical trials.”


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.