UW Health/American Family Children’s Hospital

paul sondel, md phd - principal

Paul M. Sondel M.D., Ph.D. is the Reed and Carolee Walker Professor in Pediatric Oncology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He completed undergraduate and graduate education at UW-Madison leading to a PhD in Genetics, with guidance from Bone Marrow Transplant pioneer, Fritz Bach, M.D. He received his MD magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School, while beginning his research in tumor immunology. Following pediatric residency training at the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin, he joined the faculty of UW-Madison in the Departments of Pediatrics, Human Oncology and Genetics in 1980. He was Head of the Division of Pediatric Hematology- Oncology-BMT from 1990-2016, when he became Research Director of that Division. Since 1990 he has been leader or co-leader of the UW Carbone Cancer Center's Program in Immunology and Immunotherapy in 1990.

His laboratory has pursued preclinical and clinical analyses of graft-versus-leukemia reactions, anti-tumor immune destruction with Interleukin-2 and tumor reactive monoclonal antibodies to facilitate tumor killing by leukocytes, and preclinical combination immunotherapy strategies. These studies have all moved into clinical testing, with some demonstrating clear clinical benefit, including the use of anti-GD2 antibody as treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma. He has published more than 400 scientific articles and chapters, and has trained more than 70 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his lab.

Dr. Sondel has been a leader in scientific policy through multiple national committee roles, including The National Institutes of Health, The American Cancer Society, The Children's Oncology Group (COG), The National Cancer Institute, where he was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors, and St. Jude's Children’s Research Hospital, where he was the Chair of their Scientific Advisory Committee and chair of their cancer center's external advisory board. Clinically, he has worked with COG in contributing to the progress of the past 35 years in the development of curative treatments for childhood cancers. His research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute since 1982. He received a 7-year Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2015, the Smalley award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer in 2017 and the Edward H. Ahrens Jr. Distinguished Investigator award from the Association for Clinical and Translational Research in 2021.

kenneth desantes, md - co-site lead

Dr. Kenneth DeSantes is the Crawford Professor of Pediatric Oncology, and Head of the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at the University of Wisconsin – American Family Children’s Hospital (UW-AFCH) in Madison. Dr. DeSantes is Director of the 131I-MIBG treatment program at AFCH, and also serves as the COG Principal Investigator for UW-AFCH. His research interests are focused on the development of immunotherapeutic strategies to treat pediatric malignancies, especially neuroblastoma. He led a phase 1 trial within the Pediatric Oncology Dream Team using MGA271, an anti-B7-H3 monoclonal antibody, to treat children with relapsed/refractory B7-H3-expressing solid tumors. He currently serves as PI for a clinical trial utilizing ex-vivo activated/expanded allogeneic NK cells, given together with the anti-GD2 hu14.18-IL2 immunocytokine, to treat children with relapsed neuroblastoma and osteogenic sarcoma, and is co-PI for a trial evaluating the combination of 131I-MIBG and immunotherapy (utilizing nivolumab and dinutuximab beta) to treat children with relapsed neuroblastoma. Dr. DeSantes helped to develop, and serves as a co-investigator for a study exploring the use of alpha beta T cell depleted haploidentical HSCT, with post-transplant zoledronic acid, to treat children with recurrent leukemia and solid tumors. He is also the PI, or a co-investigator, for several clinical trials involving the use of molecular targeted radiotherapeutic agents including a phase 1 trial evaluating CLR131 for patients with relapsed solid tumors, and a phase 1 – 2a trial utilizing 67Cu-SARTATETM to treat children with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma.

jacques galipeau, md - investigator


jacquelyn hank, phd - investigator


mario otto, md phd - investigator


alexander rakhmilevich, md phd - investigator


christian capitini, md - young investigator

Dr. Capitini completed a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology through the joint program of Johns Hopkins University/National Cancer Institute in 2008. Dr. Capitini joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor in 2011. Dr. Capitini focuses his research on using allogeneic bone marrow transplant (alloBMT) to cure pediatric cancers. Ongoing laboratory work is combining NK cells with antibodies to stimulate NK cell proliferation and activation against several pediatric solid tumors in the alloBMT setting. He is also developing MRI techniques to monitor NK cells and T cells in vivo. Clinically, Dr. Capitini is a site investigator for clinical trials studying chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cells for relapsed leukemia.