Our team is focused on developing basic and translational models of pediatric sarcomas—devastating and aggressive solid tumors with limited therapeutic options. Specifically, we study fusion-driven rhabdomyosarcoma, which is thought to arise from a misregulation of skeletal muscle developmental pathways. We use cell culture and transgenic zebrafish systems to delineate the underlying biology of the disease and then apply that knowledge to identify molecular targets. Our ultimate goal is to apply our models as discovery- based tools to derive mechanistic insights for improving outcomes for children with cancer.
Join our Team
We are very committed to mentoring the next generation of scientists. We are looking for enthusiastic, self-motivated individuals who thrive in a fast-paced challenging start-up research environment. Individuals must be able to work well with others as part of a cohesive team, while also being comfortable producing and pursuing independent ideas. If you have a desire to make a significant impact in pediatric cancers, we invite you to contact us concerning a position.
Genevieve Kendall, PhD
Genevieve Kendall, Ph.D. is a principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases and an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Kendall received her bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at Texas Tech University where she was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellow. She obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), before performing her postdoctoral studies focused on pediatric oncology with Dr. James Amatruda at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Matthew Kent, PhD
Matthew Kent, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. Dr. Kent received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Genetics at the University of Georgia. He then obtained his PhD in Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. He is currently investigating the mechanisms of PAX3-FOXO1 and HES3 cooperation in rhabdomyosarcoma, using zebrafish as a model organism. Dr. Kent is an avid consumer of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and enjoys playing board games with friends.
Research Assistant/Kendall Lab Manager
Katie received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Mathematics from Indiana Wesleyan University in December 2019. Her current research focuses on leveraging complementary cell culture and zebrafish systems to define the developmental and cellular contexts which are susceptible to fusion-positive rhabdomyosarcoma. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, and going to see live theater.
Graduate Research Assistant
Jack Kucinski graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics. Jack has long been interested in chromatin and gene regulation. As an undergraduate, he received a Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellowship for cancer research and investigated the role of histone variant H2A.z. In the Kendall Lab, Jack is investigating the chromatin context and accessibility surrounding the fusion transcription factor PAX3-FOXO1 in rhabdomyosarcoma. When not thinking about science, Jack enjoys following everything Disney and Marvel.
Graduate Research Associate
Delia Calderon received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Biochemistry from California State University Channel Islands. Delia is currently focusing on developing models and therapies for infantile rhabdomyosarcoma, and generating new zebrafish models of novel rhabdomyosarcoma fusion-oncogenes. Outside of the lab, her hobbies include dancing, playing baseball and reading.
We found that HES3 is a novel oncogenic target of PAX3-FOXO1. My group will now focus on how HES3 and PAX3-FOXO1 cooperate to inhibit developmental programs, such as myogenesis, and the cellular transcriptional response required for transformation. In parallel, to advance timely therapeutics in RMS, we will use chemical and genetic strategies to test a subset of clinically tractable targets identified in the more aggressive HES3-high RMS patient signature.
We have implemented genetic strategies to restrict cell lineage specific expression of human fusion-oncogenes in zebrafish systems. This is an ongoing collaboration with Koichi Kawakami at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan. Over five years I have visited his lab and collected a unique sarcoma shelf screening resource consisting of over 50 transgenic zebrafish lines. These transgenic lines are being implemented to restrict the expression of human fusion-oncogenes to specific cellular compartments across a spectrum of developmental timepoints. Our efforts now include performing sarcoma shelf-screens to identify cell lineages that are resistant or susceptible to sarcoma fusion-oncogene expression. Further, we will understand the biology of these fusion-oncogenes by defining the genomic and transcriptional features of their in vivo activity. Comparing shared and unique vulnerabilities across multiple fusion-oncogenes will be a key approach for the identification of potential targets.
We are well positioned at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and through multiple collaborations, to intersect with clinical sequencing efforts and validate novel oncogenic drivers. Our group generates new models of pediatric sarcoma by integrating newly identified fusion-oncogenes into the zebrafish genome to functionally validate their transformative capacity. These animal models allow us to understand the biology of these rare diseases in an appropriate developmental context and are a unique platform to identify potential targeted therapies.
- Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation “A” Award co-funded by Flashes of Hope
- The V Foundation for Cancer Research V Scholar Award
VIDEO: Inside our Nationwide Children’s Hospital Zebrafish Facility: Genetic, Life-Saving Research
PODCAST: In Episode 75, Quinn & Brian discuss: Beating the crap out of childhood cancer with science and... zebrafish? We’re getting really nerdy about beating childhood cancer with Dr. Jaclyn Taroni and Dr. Genevieve Kendall.
Zebrafish expose pathway in childhood muscle cancer.
- DALLAS – Jun. 5, 2018 – A popular aquarium fish may hold answers to how tumors form in a childhood cancer.
BLOG: A passion for pediatric sarcoma research – AACR Cancer Research Catalyst
- Genevieve Kendall, PhD, has focused her research on this specific form of sarcoma, with the ultimate goal of developing new animal models and applying them to identify active small molecules or treatment strategies that could be implemented to improve patient outcomes.