Tom Curran, Ph.D., FRS

faculty photo
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
CHOP - Colket Translational Research Building
Room 4060
3501 Civic Center Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 267-426-2819
Fax: 267-426-2791
BSc (Hons) (Zoology)
University of Edinburgh, 1978.
PhD (Zoology and Anatomy)
Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and University College London, 1982.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Brain tumors, brain development, genomics.
Key words: Brain, Development, Molecular Oncology, Reelin, sonic hedgehog, neuro-oncology, oncogenes

Description of Research
Our research addresses the molecular basis of normal and neoplastic growth in the developing nervous system. We hope that by understanding the normal processes that govern formation of the brain we will uncover new approaches for the treatment of rare but very devastating pediatric brain tumors. Research in the laboratory combines basic approaches with genomics and translational science in a broad-based effort. Our experimental strategies include mouse disease models, cell culture, genomics, human tumor samples, imaging and a range of molecular techniques.

Previously, we identified the reelin gene (Reln) whose protein product is a large extracellular protein that controls cell migration and is secreted by several early populations of neurons in the developing brain. We are now examining the molecular events downstream of Reln that mediate its function. To accomplish this we are developing several conditional mutant mouse lines and we are utilizing cell and molecular biology approaches.

We are taking genomic approaches to identify molecular changes and potential drug targets for several brain tumors including medulloblastoma, atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors and choroid plexus carcinomas. We developed a model system with a 100 percent incidence of spontaneous medulloblastoma for use in translational studies. Recently, we found that a small molecule inhibitor of the sonic hedgehog (Shh) pathway eliminated even large tumor masses in vivo. We are continuing to analyze the mechanism of action of several anticancer drugs in tumor cells and cancer models.

Rotation Projects
Opportunities are available to investigate the response of brain tumors to molecular targeted therapies in genetic mouse models. Opportunities are also available to investigate the molecular control of cell migration in the developing brain and signaling components of the Reelin pathway. Please contact Dr. Curran for available projects.

Lab personnel:
Jessica Ng Ph.D., Tae-Ju Park Ph.D., Mateusz Koptyra Ph.D., Hanna Li, Erin Fin; Dianne Settles, Executive Assistant

Selected Publications

Parsons D Williams, Li Meng, Zhang Xiaosong, Jones Siân, Leary Rebecca J, Lin Jimmy Cheng-Ho, Boca Simina M, Carter Hannah, Samayoa Josue, Bettegowda Chetan, Gallia Gary L, Jallo George I, Binder Zev A, Nikolsky Yuri, Hartigan James, Smith Doug R, Gerhard Daniela S, Fults Daniel W, Vandenberg Scott, Berger Mitchel S, Marie Suely Kazue Nagahashi, Shinjo Sueli Mieko Oba, Clara Carlos, Phillips Peter C, Minturn Jane E, Biegel Jaclyn A, Judkins Alexander R, Resnick Adam C, Storm Phillip B, Curran Tom, He Yiping, Rasheed B Ahmed, Friedman Henry S, Keir Stephen T, McLendon Roger, Northcott Paul A, Taylor Michael D, Burger Peter C, Riggins Gregory J, Karchin Rachel, Parmigiani Giovanni, Bigner Darell D, Yan Hai, Papadopoulos Nick, Vogelstein Bert, Kinzler Kenneth W, Velculescu Victor E: The Genetic Landscape of the Childhood Cancer Medulloblastoma. Science (New York, N.Y.) 331(6016): 435-439, Dec 2010.

Seidel Kerstin, Ahn Christina P, Lyons David, Nee Alexander, Ting Kevin, Brownell Isaac, Cao Tim, Carano Richard A D, Curran Tom, Schober Markus, Fuchs Elaine, Joyner Alexandra, Martin Gail R, de Sauvage Frederic J, Klein Ophir D: Hedgehog signaling regulates the generation of ameloblast progenitors in the continuously growing mouse incisor. Development (Cambridge, England) 137(22): 3753-61, Nov 2010.

Hallock Peter T, Xu Chong-Feng, Park Tae-Ju, Neubert Thomas A, Curran Tom, Burden Steven J: Dok-7 regulates neuromuscular synapse formation by recruiting Crk and Crk-L. Genes & development 24(21): 2451-61, Nov 2010.

Park, TJ, Curran, T: Crk and Crk-Like Play Essential Overlapping Roles Downstream of Disabled-1 in the Reelin Pathway. Journal Of Neuroscience 28(50): 13551-13562, DEC 10 2008.

De Gasperi, R, Sosa, MAG, Wen, PH, Li, JJ, Perez, GM, Curran, T, Elder, GA: Cortical development in the presenilin-1 null mutant mouse fails after splitting of the preplate and is not due to a failure of reelin-dependent signaling. Developmental Dynamics 237(9): 2405-2414, SEP 2008.

Kimura H, Ng JMY, Curran T.: Transient inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway in young mice causes permanent defects in bone structure. Cancer Cell 13(3): 249-60, Mar 2008.

Sasai K., Romer JT., Kimura H., Eberhart DE., Rice DS., Curran T.: Medulloblastomas derived from Cxcr6 mutant mice respond to treatment with a smoothened inhibitor. Cancer Research 67(8): 3871-7, Apr 15 2007.

Park TJ., Boyd K., Curran T.: Cardiovascular and craniofacial defects in Crk-null mice. Molecular & Cellular Biology 26(16): 6272-82, Aug 2006.

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Last updated: 07/24/2014
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