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Tom Curran

Tom CurranExecutive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Children's Research Institute at Children's Mercy


Dr. Tom Curran holds the Donald J. Hall Eminent Scholar in Pediatric Research and serves as the executive director and chief scientific officer of the Children’s Research Institute at Children’s Mercy, Kansas City.

He is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; a professor of cancer biology in the University of Kansas School of Medicine; and an adjunct professor of biomedical sciences at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. 

From 1984-1995, Dr. Curran worked at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology ultimately rising to the position of associate director. He then founded the department of developmental neurobiology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he grew the Translational Brain Tumor Program over the period 1995-2006.

He served as deputy scientific director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute from 2006-2015 and established the multi-institution Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium.

Dr. Curran’s research spans the fields of cancer, signal transduction and neurobiology. He discovered and characterized the inducible Fos-Jun oncogenic transcription factor complex and demonstrated its function in diverse signal transduction processes. His lab identified a novel reduction/oxidation mechanism that regulates transcription factor activity. He also identified reelin, the gene responsible for the classic ataxic mouse mutation, reeler, and elucidated its role in the control of neuronal migration in the developing brain.

Over the course of the last two decades, Dr. Curran pioneered preclinical analysis of Hedgehog Pathway inhibitors for the treatment of pediatric medulloblastoma and transitioned this work into successful Phase I/II human clinical trials.

His work is published in over 290 papers that have been cited more than 50,000 times. In 1993, he was ranked fourth in the world among high-impact researchers in Molecular Biology and Genetics, for the period 1988-1992, by the Institute for Scientific Information. In 2000, he received the rare distinction of being listed as a highly-cited scientist in three distinct categories, Neuroscience, Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Microbiology. His current H-index is 104.

Dr. Curran was president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in 2000-2001 and served on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors from 2000-2005. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994; the American Society of Microbiology in 1994; the Royal Society, London in 2005; the National Academy of Medicine in 2009; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012; and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research in 2013.

Dr. Curran has received several awards and honors, including the Passano Foundation Young Scientist Award in 1992; the Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research award from the AACR in 1993; the Golgi Award from the Camillo Golgi Foundation and the Italian Academy of Neurosciences in 1994; and the Fred Epstein Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation in 2015.

Dr. Curran received a bachelor's degree from Edinburgh University in 1978 and a doctorate from University College London, for studies carried out at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, in 1982. He was supported by a Damon-Runyon fellowship during his postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute, San Diego from 1982-1984.