Robert Wechsler-ReyaPrincipal Investigator
Dr. Wechsler-Reya received his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania, and did postdoctoral training at the Wistar Institute and at Stanford. He was a faculty member at Duke University before moving to Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) Medical Discovery Institute, where he serves as Director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program. Dr. Wechsler-Reya’s research focuses on the signals that control growth and differentiation in the cerebellum, and how these signals are dysregulated in the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. His contributions include demonstrating the importance of Sonic hedgehog as a mitogen for neuronal precursors; discovering a novel population of stem cells in the developing cerebellum; demonstrating that both neuronal precursors and stem cells can serve as cells of origin for medulloblastoma; and identifying cancer stem cells that are critical for tumor propagation of Sonic hedgehog-associated tumors. His lab has developed several genetically engineered and patient-derived xenograft models of medulloblastoma, and is using them to test novel approaches to therapy. In addition to his position at SBP, Dr. Wechsler-Reya is Director of the Clayes Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics at the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. There he works with a team of physicians and scientists to capture genomic, transcriptomic, epigenetic and functional data from pediatric brain tumor patients, and uses this information to improve diagnosis and treatment.