Jaclyn Biegel joins Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and Chief of New Division of Genomic Medicine

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has named Jaclyn Biegel, PhD, a
leading academic expert on pediatric brain tumors, rhabdoid tumors and
cancer cytogenetics, as the director of the Center for Personalized
Medicine at CHLA.


Biegel, who formerly served as director of the Cancer Cytogenetics
Laboratory at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of
Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania, is a Professor of Pathology (Clinical Scholar) at the Keck
School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, and also
serves as chief of CHLA’s new Division of Genomic Medicine in the
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

“Dr. Biegel is one of the world’s leading authorities on the molecular
genetics of pediatric brain tumors and brings to CHLA an established,
outstanding track record in applied genetic research relevant to
pediatric disease,” says Alexander R. Judkins, MD, FRCP (Edin),
executive director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and
pathologist-in-chief at CHLA. “We are thrilled to have her join our
Center, where she will lead and cultivate a multi-disciplinary team of
physicians, laboratorians, bioinformaticians, and scientists and
supporting clinical experts at CHLA to build specialized, targeted
health care plans for children based on their individual genomes.”

Biegel is overseeing the development and implementation of new genomic
tests for diagnosis and risk assessment for children and families with a
variety of genetic disorders and cancer, and is collaborating in
multidisciplinary research with clinical teams at CHLA and at the Keck
School of Medicine of USC.

The mission of CHLA’s Center for Personalized Medicine is to unravel the
genetic basis of disease and set new standards for using genetic
profiles to effectively diagnose, treat and care for children. Biegel’s
expertise in identifying the risk factors and genetic triggers that
predispose patients to certain diseases is helping advance the long-term
promise of personalized medicine: therapies, even cures, for diseases
that currently have no treatment. And as chief of CHLA’s new Division of
Genomic Medicine, Biegel says her team supports the hospital’s Division
of Medical Genetics to provide tools that help deliver superior on-site
patient care and forge multi-institutional collaborations in the
genomics of childhood disease.

“I am very excited to be part of a team that is at the forefront of this
revolution in modern medicine,” Biegel says. “CHLA is a top-tier medical
facility that has made personalized medicine a priority. We have
recruited an outstanding group of faculty in clinical laboratory
genetics and bioinformatics and are well-positioned to launch clinical
exome-based testing and comprehensive pediatric cancer gene panels
within the next few months.”

Biegel is well known for her work with rhabdoid tumors, an extremely
rare and aggressive form of cancer that can affect the brain, kidney and
other soft tissues in children and infants. Over her academic career,
Biegel has played a major role in developing state-of-the-art diagnostic
genetic tests for children with hematologic malignancies and solid
tumors. At The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Biegel’s lab was the
first in the U.S. to provide high-resolution genomic single nucleotide
polymorphism array studies for children with cancer on a clinical basis.
Her laboratory first described that genetic abnormalities in the SMARCB1
gene can predispose children to rhabdoid tumor, and demonstrated that
specific genetic alterations in chromosome band 7q34 result in novel
gene fusions involving BRAF that characterize the vast majority of low
grade gliomas of the brain in children.

“Understanding the cytogenetic and molecular makeup of bone marrow and
tissue samples from children diagnosed with bone marrow failure,
leukemia and solid tumors is important both in helping clinicians make
the appropriate diagnosis and also in determining prognosis and
appropriate treatment planning,” says Biegel, who earned her PhD in
Human Genetics from the University of Pittsburgh and also served as
Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Cancer Genetics. About 25
percent of patients with rhabdoid tumors, she explains, have no family
history of cancer and yet are born with a genetic predisposition because
they carry an abnormal SMARCB1 gene.

“Detailed molecular work-up for these children is crucial so they can be
followed closely for additional tumors and their families can receive
genetic counseling regarding risks for other family members who may have
the same gene abnormality,” she says. “One of the goals of the Center is
to provide this type of comprehensive genetic evaluation for all
children with cancer.”

Collaboration between CHLA and USC clinical groups to inform clinical
trials and research in the genetics of pediatric disease will enable the
Center to become a premier personal medicine site – not just in Los
Angeles and California, but nationally and globally as well.

“I hope to combine my experience in pediatric brain tumor research with
the leading innovation and bench-to-bedside practices that underscore
CHLA’s mission to save and improve the lives of children,” Biegel says.

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s
hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical
excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World
Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research
Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research
facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of
America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932
with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern
California.

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Contacts

CHLA Media Relations
Owen Lei, 323-361-8433
olei@chla.usc.edu