Peter J. Houghton, PhD (43215), will lead the next wave of cancer research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as director of the Center for Childhood Cancer at The Research Institute. With his guidance, Nationwide Children’s is poised to develop new, clinically-applicable cancer therapies and expand and enhance its clinical trial programs. Dr. Houghton will also have an integral role with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and will hold a faculty post at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. His appointment began August 3.
Dr. Houghton comes to Columbus from a more than 30-year stint with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where he was the chairman of Molecular Pharmacy, director of the Solid Tumor Program Project Grant, and co-leader of the Solid Malignancies Program.
During his career, Dr. Houghton has focused on understanding the basic biology of childhood solid tumors, largely sarcomas. His track record of groundbreaking laboratory discovery distinguishes him as a national leader in pediatric cancer research. Dr. Houghton’s expertise covers many areas of study, though he is most noted for the discovery of new therapies to treat tumors occurring in muscles and other soft tissues, especially rhabdomyosarcomas. This type of tumor is one of the most common and highly malignant cancers occurring in children.
“We are fortunate to have recruited a scientist of Dr. Houghton’s caliber,” said John Barnard, MD, president of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “He will usher in a new era of outstanding laboratory and clinical research related to childhood cancer. His discoveries will offer hope to children and their families battling this devastating disease.”
Along with his lab-based studies, Dr. Houghton will bring the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) to Nationwide Children’s. The PPTP provides a system for prioritizing drugs with potential to treat pediatric cancers. Supported by the National Cancer Institute, the PPTP involves multiple pediatric research sites throughout the world that have expertise in specific childhood cancers. Scientists at these sites have developed preclinical models that express genes similar to those expressed by human cancers. These models are used to determine which drugs that have been developed for adult cancers may be effective in treating pediatric cancers. The PPTP not only helps prioritize drugs for pediatrics, but helps fast track these therapies to trials in children.
Dr. Houghton received his PhD in 1976 from the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of London.