Cancer and Blood Disorders Research

Children’s Minnesota is a leader in providing care to children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer and blood disorders. But we don’t just care for our patients – we also study how to make our treatments better. We do collaborative research to improve outcomes in the treatment of cancer and blood disorders, and we have a strong focus on supportive care research – research that can make daily life better for children and teens in our care. Our research is completely kid-and family-focused. 

We are part of several research groups that perform clinical trials aimed not only at treating cancer and blood disorders but also at early detection and limiting side effects. These research groups include:

  • Children’s Oncology Group (COG)
  • Pacific Pediatric Neuro-oncology Consortium (PNOC)
  • Beat Childhood Cancer (BCC)
  • Early Detection in Syndromic Cancers (EDISYN)
  • American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Network (ATHN)
  • Sickle Treatment and Outcomes Research in the Midwest (STORM)
  • Pediatric ITP Consortium of North America (ICON)

We also
have a strong internal research program where we perform our own studies and share that knowledge through publications. This program includes the International PPB/DICER1 Registry, which has enrolled more than 700 individuals with pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) and other DICER1-related conditions, and the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor Registry, which includes more than 200 children, adolescents, and young adults with these rare tumors 

Current clinical trials

If you or your child is eligible, you could be part of one of these ongoing studies.

Combination Therapy for the Treatment of Diffuse Midline Gliomas

Principal investigator: Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

International PPB/DICER1 Registry

Principal investigator: Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

A Clinical and Molecular Risk-Directed Therapy for Newly Diagnosed Medulloblastoma

Principal Investigator: Anne Bendel, MD
Principal Investigator: Maggie Skrypek, MD

Ongoing focus areas

  • Central nervous system tumors
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Solid tumors including PPB and other DICER1-related conditions
  • Benign blood disorders including:
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Thalassemia
    • Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP)

Anne BendelAnne Bendel, MD
Anne Bendel, MD, is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Children’s Minnesota where she is the director of the Neurooncology Program and the inaugural recipient of the Harper Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Cancer Research and Novel Therapies.  She has spent her entire 29-year career at Children’s Minnesota.  Anne’s specialty is pediatric neurooncology.  She has a true love for patient care and collaborates with neurosurgery, radiation oncology, neuroradiology, neurology, endocrinology, genetics, rehabilitation therapy, neuropsychology and other disciplines to provide comprehensive care for our neurooncology patients.  She also has a strong passion for clinical research and believes research is the only way to continue to advance our knowledge and improve the cure rate in pediatric oncology.  Anne actively collaborates with multiple national and international clinical research groups, including the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), Pacific Pediatric Neurooncology Consortium (PNOC), St. Jude’s, Next Consortium and others, allowing our patients access to multiple clinical trials using novel therapies.  Outside of work, Anne enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children traveling, hiking, cooking and dining together.

Nathan GossaiNathan Gossai 
Nathan is a Pediatric Oncologist with Children’s Minnesota and the Director of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Program. He attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and medical school at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He completed both his residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Blood/Marrow Transplant at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on leukemia in the central nervous system, and he is an active member in consortia to bring novel therapeutics to Children’s Minnesota. He is a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan and loves traveling with his wife and daughters.  

Susan KearneySusan Kearney, MD
Sue Kearney, MD, is the medical director of the Children’s Minnesota Cancer and Blood Disorders Program and the Children’s Minnesota Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders. She was born in Canada and obtained her Bachelor of Science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She received her Medical Doctorate degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN, USA. She then moved to Boston for her Pediatric Residency and her Pediatric Hematology Oncology Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her academic interest is in Pediatric Bleeding and Clotting disorders. Sue enjoys time with family, walks with her dog, yoga and traveling. In her younger life, she was a competitive diver.

Stephanie Fritch LillaStephanie Fritch Lilla, MD
Stephanie Fritch Lilla, MD, attended medical school and residency at the University of Minnesota. She completed her pediatric hematology oncology fellowship at Duke University in Durham, NC. Dr. Fritch Lilla joined the hematology-oncology program at Children’s Minnesota in 2014 with a focus on non-malignant hematology. Her interests include red blood cell disorders including but not limited to thalassemia, sickle cell disease, and the management of iron overload, as well as immune mediate cytopenias, such as immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).  While passionate about caring for kids with blood disorders, she also conducts research to improve treatment options. She is a sub-awardee in both the HRSA STORM Sickle Cell Collaborative and HRSA Central Region Thalassemia Collaborative. She is the site Principal Investigator for several ITP, sickle cell, and thalassemia clinical trials. When not at work, Dr. Fritch Lilla loves running with her dog and coaching and cheering her kids on at their activities.

Pauline MitbyPauline Mitby, MPH
Pauline Mitby, MPH, grew up in Minneapolis, MN and attended the University of Minnesota where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Education followed by a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology. She began her research career at the U of MN where she was the Project Coordinator for several pediatric cancer-related research studies before moving to Children’s Minnesota in 2008. Ms. Mitby has been the Clinical Research Manager for the Cancer and Blood Disorders Program for the past fourteen years. Outside of research, Pauline enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with family and friends at her cabin near Longville, MN.

Michael RichardsMichael Richards,MD, Ph.D.
Michael Richards, MD, PhD, received his medical degree and PhD in biological chemistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Richards completed his pediatric residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He joined the hematology/oncology program at Children’s Minnesota in 2003. Dr. Richards is the Primary Investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group clinical trials open at Children’s Minnesota. He primarily sees patients with leukemia or lymphoma, his main clinical interest. He has two grown children, Matt, who lives in the Chicago area, and Megan, who is currently studying psychology in college.

Jawhar RawwasJawhar Rawwas, MD
Jawhar Rawwas, MD, attended medical school at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He completed his pediatric residency at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. His pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship was completed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1995. His interests include neuroblastoma, solid tumors, and applications of precision medicine in pediatric oncology.


Samuel RoikoSam Roiko, Ph.D.
Sam Roiko, Ph.D., grew up in Minnesota and obtained his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota. He completed his post-doctoral training in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, New York. He then returned to Minnesota, where he works in pediatric clinical research focusing on precision medicine and pharmacogenomics. Sam enjoys skiing, mountain biking, camping, and hiking with his wife and children.


Kris Ann SchultzKris Ann Schultz, MD
Kris Ann P. Schultz, MD, is a pediatric oncologist and Pine Tree Endowed Chair in Cancer and Blood Disorders Research. She received her medical degree from Loyola University. She completed her pediatric residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at the University of Minnesota and also received a Master of Science degree in clinical research. Dr. Schultz joined the Hematology Oncology program at Children’s Minnesota in 2008 and has particular interest and expertise in the care of children with pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB), ovarian tumors, and other rare childhood cancers. Dr. Schultz is principal investigator for the International PPB/DICER1 Registry and principal investigator and founder of the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor Registry. Her current research focuses on the development of novel treatments for DICER1-related tumors. Her favorite thing about the field of pediatric oncology is seeing love in action.

Stuart WinterStuart Winter, MD
Stuart S. Winter, MD is Chief of Research Medical Innovation at Children’s Minnesota. A Midwesterner since the early 1960’s, Stuart grew up near Milwaukee, WI. He graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI (1983) with a BA in biology and attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (1988). Stuart completed his pediatric residency at the University of New Mexico (1991), and his sub-specialty fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Duke University Medical Center (1995). He has been continuously board-certified in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology since 1994. Stuart’s areas of interests are in molecular oncology, immunotherapy, clinical trials, research ethics and randomized longitudinal studies that benefit all children. He has extensive experience in teaching learners from all disciplines and enjoys mentoring physicians across their career lifespans. As a practicing hematologist-oncologist for more than 25 years, Stuart has been continually reminded that research is considered standard-of-care for children and young adults who face a great variety of healthcare conditions for which no easy answers or curative therapy exists. As an advocate for the importance of science in medicine, Dr. Winter believes that we must be vigilant guardians of the progress made so far, and that medicine is a mix of science, art and reality.