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Charles Keller, MD

Charles Keller, MD

Adjunct Scientist, Legacy Research Institute
Scientific Director, Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute

Contact Info:

Telephone: 801-232-8038 | Fax: 270-675-3313  |  Email: charles@cc-tdi.org


Biosketch (updated Jan 2020) 
Peer reviewed publications
Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (www.cc-tdi.org) 

Short Bio:

Charles’ research focuses on the development of more effective, less toxic therapies for childhood cancers. His special interest is advanced disease that has spread beyond the initial location of the cancer or which makes the tumor unresectable. Charles has co-chaired the brain tumor developmental therapeutics committee (CNS-DVL) of the Children’s Oncology Group and is a member of the soft tissue sarcoma (STS) committee of Children’s Oncology Group. He has also regularly been a standing or ad hoc member of NIH/NCI Study Sections.

Charles attended Tulane University where he received a degree in Biomedical Engineering prior to attending Baylor College of Medicine where he received his M.D. degree. After completing his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital, Charles trained in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the University of Utah and with 2007 Nobel laureate, Mario Capecchi. Charles has authored over 100 scientific publications and is a recognized expert in the biology of childhood sarcomas and the preclinical investigation of childhood cancers.

Charles is also a co-founder of First Ascent Biomedical (a company developing personalized medical approaches to therapy for canine and human solid tumor patients) and Artisan Biopharma (a company helping translate drug discoveries to clinical use)*. In their spare time, Charles, his wife Kelly & their daughters enjoy outdoor adventures, as well as designing and building treehouses.

* overlap between cc-TDI, FirstAscent and Artisan Biopharma is overseen by a conflict of interest management committee.

Publication Highlights:

Cell-cycle dependent expression of a translocation-mediated fusion oncogene mediates checkpoint adaptation in rhabdomyosarcoma.
Kikuchi K, Hettmer S, Aslam MI, Michalek JE, Laub W, Wilky BA, Loeb DM, Rubin BP, Wagers AJ, Keller C.
PLoS Genetics, 2014 Jan;10(1):e1004107

Lineage of Origin in Rhabdomyosarcoma informs Pharmacological Response.
Abraham J, Nuñez-Álvarez Y, Hettmer S, ... Suelves M, Rubin BP, Keller C.
Genes & Development, 2014 Jul 15;28(14):1578-91

IGF1R as a Key Target in High Risk, Metastatic Medulloblastoma.
Svalina MN, Kikuchi K, Abraham J, Lal S, Davare MA, Settelmeyer TP, Young MC, Peckham JL, Cho YJ, Michalek JE, Hernandez BS, Berlow NE, Jackson M, Guillaume DJ, Selden NR, Bigner DD, Nazemi KJ, Green SC, Corless CL, Gultekin S, Mansoor A, Rubin BP, Woltjer R, Keller C.
Scientific Reports 2016 Jun 3;6:27012.

Functionally-defined Therapeutic Targets in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.
Grasso CS, Tang Y, Truffaux N, ... Keller C*, Pal R, Grill J, Monje M*. (*co-corresponding authors)
Nature Medicine. 2015 Jun;21(6):555-9

SMARCA4-miR27a axis promotes expression of the PAX3:FOXO1 fusion oncogene in rhabdomyosarcoma.
Bharathy N, Berlow NE, Wang E, ...  Vakoc CR, Michalek JE, Keller C.
Science Signaling. 2018 Nov 20;11(557). 

Research Interests:

  • Childhood cancer

  • Sarcoma

  • Malignant brain tumors

  • Functional genomics

Research Focus:

As a physician-scientist, my laboratory has been devoted to the development of novel molecular therapies for advanced childhood cancers (sarcomas and brain tumors) associated with high morbidity or mortality.  The long-term emphasis of my laboratory’s research is molecularly-targeted therapies to halt progression or induce regression for gross residual disease, metastatic disease and relapsed disease. 

To achieve these goals, my laboratory has traditionally utilized physiologically-accurate, genetically-engineered mouse models (GEMMs) of soft tissue sarcomas including alveolar & embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, and brain tumors including medulloblastoma.  In parallel, we also develop primary tumor cell cultures of pediatric cancers for preclinical validation studies.  Our approach has been to study these childhood cancers in the context of developmental biology.  By providing the scientific community a centralized knowledge base and experimental resources of validated and credentialed models, we hope to recruit not only cancer biologists but also developmental biologists, cancer biologists and engineers to the investigation of these devastating childhood cancers. 

Collaborations with cancer biologists and neuroscientists at Legacy Research Institute and clinicians at the Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel bolster our shared mission to discover more effective treatments for these children whose lives have been touched by cancer.