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2015 Flight of Hope Award Honoree

michael-laquaglia_headshot_9.29.15Michael P. LaQuaglia, MD, FACS, FRCS

Chief, Pediatric Surgical Service; Joseph H. Burchenal Chair in Pediatrics

Memorial Sloan Kettering

PALS is proud to present the 2015 Flight of Hope Award to Dr. Michael P. La Quaglia In recognition for helping those in need of accessing treatment the core mission of PALS. As Chief of the Pediatric Surgical Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. LaQuaglia is proud to be part of a team that performs more pediatric cancer surgeries than any other institution in the world; more than 500 procedures each year, in patients as young as newborn to young adults. He has a special expertise in performing large, complicated surgeries, with exceptional experience in surgery for neuroblastoma and desmoplastic small round cell tumors as well as complex liver surgery and thyroid surgery.

In his research, Dr. LaQuaglia collaborates with colleagues to assess a class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors as anticancer agents. These novel drugs work against cancer by turning off an enzyme the cancers need to grow. He has studied the mechanisms by which cancers metastasize (spread), and is working with other investigators to study the role of angiogenesis — the development of blood vessels tumors need — in this process. Since metastasis is what ultimately causes patients to succumb to cancer, learning how to halt this process will be enormously beneficial.

Dr. LaQuaglia leads clinical trials, such as one assessing radioimmunotherapy for desmoplastic small round cell tumors. This work supports the banking of tumor tissue, particularly for neuroblastoma and sarcoma — the study of which can benefit future patients with cancer. He also teaches and mentor surgical fellows and residents.

Nationally, Michael serves as Chairperson of the Surgical Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group. He is a member and past chairman of the Pediatric Surgical Association Cancer Committee. He has received the Willet F. Whitmore Award for Clinical Excellence from Memorial Sloan Kettering and is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. Dr. LaQuaglia holds the Joseph H. Burchenal Chair in Pediatrics, which is named for an esteemed pioneer in the treatment of cancer in children. His greatest satisfaction comes from working with children. He enjoys interactions with them tremendously and finds them extremely rewarding.

PALS is extremely grateful to Dr. Michael LaQuaglia for accepted the 2015 Flight of Hope Award for the outstanding partnership he and his team at MSK play with PALS to ensure individuals diagnosed with serious illness, and medical treatment that isn’t available in their area, distance and transportation are removed as obstacles to accessing the best treatment and care. Together we can achieve our shared goal to help patients get better.