NEW YORK— Robert Ross, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded a four-year, $960,660 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that is often fatal in infants and young children.

Ross will use the grant to investigate the role different cell types play in the malignancy of neuroblastoma tumors. His research group discovered that a cancer stem cell is present in high frequency in the most aggressive cases.

Ross is also researching the oncogene N-myc, a gene that stimulates cancer growth when activated. N-myc is amplified in 30 percent of children with neuroblastoma. Though it was discovered more than 30 years ago, not much is known about the gene. This year, however, Ross discovered that certain proteins regulate N-myc in the cell.

“These discoveries are likely to have far-reaching implications for the treatment of neuroblastoma and other forms of cancer,” said Ross. “It is important that we have identified the ‘bad player’ in the tumor. This allows us a more direct and potentially more effective approach in treatment.”