Pediatric Cancer Dream Team

The Pediatric Cancer Dream Team began in 2013 with a $14.5 million grant, co-funded by 2 leading cancer research funders -

Its mission: Bring together 2 separate scientific fields - genomics and immunotherapy - to find cures for many of the most hard-to-treat childhood cancers.

“Lightning in a bottle” - That’s how experts have described this team and its incredibly fast impact. The Dream Team has

  • Pushed the first gene therapies over the finish line for FDA approval
  • Treated more than 930 patients on 34 clinical trials
  • Discovered new immunotherapy targets that can be game-changers

Now that work continues, funded by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in partnership with the 9 member institutions. It is proud to remain part of the SU2C Dream Team Community.

The Dream Team


These institutions participate in the Dream Team and help to fund it:

  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • Stanford University
  • Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Colorado


  • Dr. John M. Maris
  • Dr. Crystal L. Mackall

This is big science. They’re asking us to think outside the box, to do things that we can’t do with any of the standard funding mechanisms that are available.

—Dr. Crystal Mackall, Dream Team Co-Lead

The Strategy

Bring together two scientific areas that have been evolving on parallel tracks:


the study of genes and their functions


using the body’s own immune system to attack cancer

Progress to Date

The Dream Team has already been wildly successful at using discoveries in genomics to create groundbreaking new immunotherapies for some blood cancers. Now the team aims to learn why these new therapies don’t yet work for all kids - and to discover new therapies for solid tumors, including some that almost no child survives today.

Phineas child cancer survivor with father

Children are alive today who would not have survived without the Dream Team’s work.

Meet Phineas

The Work

The Dream Team's road map:

Researchers will first use genomics to discover the most strategic targets the immune system should attack, to kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone.

Once those targets are discovered, the team will develop the weapons the immune system can use to attack them.

To test these new therapies and make them available to kids everywhere, the team will conduct clinical trials involving multiple institutions across North America.

We are very pleased to be able to continue the work we began with funding from SU2C and St. Baldrick’s. Continuing support from St. Baldrick’s will enable us to further capitalize on discoveries in the first 4 years with a more refined focus on developing novel immunotherapy clinical trials for children with high-risk cancers.

—Dr. John Maris, Dream Team Co-Lead
We’re setting out to revolutionize childhood cancer treatment.
Follow the journey of the Dream Team.