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6th Biennial Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Research Conference

Keynote Speakers


Crystal Mackall
Developing CAR T cell Immunotherapies for Children with CNS Tumors

Crystal L Mackall is the Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at Stanford University. She serves as Founding Director of the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, Associate Director of Stanford Cancer Institute, Leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford. During a 27 year tenure culminating as Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, NCI, and now through the Mackall Lab at Stanford (, she has led an internationally recognized translational research program focused on immunooncology. She has conducted numerous early phase and first-in-human and first-in-child clinical trials spanning dendritic cell vaccines, cytokines, and adoptive immunotherapy using NK cells and genetically modified T cells. Her work is credited with identifying an essential role for the thymus in human T cell regeneration and discovering IL-7 as the master regulator of T cell homeostasis. Her group was among the first to demonstrate impressive activity of CD19-CAR in pediatric leukemia, developed a novel CD22-CAR with impressive activity in leukemia refractory to CD19 targeting and identified T cell exhaustion as a major feature limiting the activity of CAR T cells. Recently her group has developed a novel approach to prevent human T cell exhaustion. Dr. Mackall’s clinical trials are notable for incorporation of deep biologic endpoints that further our understanding of the basis for success and failure of novel immunotherapeutics. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Academy of Physicians and received the Lila and Murray Gruber Award for Cancer Research in 2019. She serves in numerous national leadership positions, including co-PI on the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Network (U54), Leader of the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, and co-Leader of the St. Baldrick’s-StandUp2Cancer Pediatric Dream Team. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Internal Medicine.

Pieter Wesseling
Innovations in the new WHO classification of CNS tumors how to diagnose brain tumors in children

Pieter Wesseling (PW) is clinical neuropathologist, professor in neuro-oncological pathology, and affiliated with the Amsterdam University Medical Centers/VUmc in Amsterdam, as well as with the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He is an expert in the histopathology and molecular biology of tumors of the Central Nervous System (CNS), and has (co-)authored > 250 papers on these aspects. His main research interest nowadays concerns further elucidation of the molecular underpinnings of CNS tumors and translation of this information into an improved clinical diagnosis. PW is editorial board member of several international top 5 neuropathology/neurooncology journals, consultant for multiple (international) funding agencies, and scientific advisory board member for several research institutes abroad. He has been a member of the consortium to Inform Molecular and Practical Approaches to CNS Tumor Taxonomy (cIMPACT-NOW) from the start in 2016, was centrally involved in shaping the more recent editions of the WHO CNS tumor classification, and at present acts as expert editor for both the 2021 WHO CNS tumor classification and the 2021 WHO Pediatric tumor classification.