Meet Dr. Parihar

Dr. Robin Parihar, MD, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor

Hospital:  Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine

Specialty:  Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, specializing in solid tumors

Research Project funded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer:  Development of a human natural killer cell immunotherapy against pediatric sarcomas (Clinical and Translational Research Award)

In layman’s terms, what is the purpose of the research project?
Treatments using the immune system to fight childhood bone and muscle tumors (sarcomas) have shown promise in the lab. However, their ability to cure patients has been limited by a powerful tumor environment that turns off the immune system and does damage to normal cells. We have developed a cancer therapy that uses natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell with excellent tumor killing capacity and a unique ability to distinguish normal tissues in the body. The NK cells safely target both the tumor environment and sarcoma-associated proteins in a special way that allows them to destroy cancer but leave normal tissues alone. We will test the ability of these NK cells to kill tumors safely in laboratory models, and then make preparations to test safety and effectiveness in kids with sarcoma.

What message would you like to share with our donors?
My lab and I are incredibly thankful to the generous support of CFKC donors. Your tireless devotion to kids with cancer, and to supporting researchers who want to bring new, less toxic therapies to them, is inspirational and incredibly appreciated. We truly would not be able to do this without you! 

Tell us where you’re from?
My hometown is Mason, Ohio.

Why did you want to get into pediatric cancer research?
The burden of pediatric cancer, both physical and emotional, for patients and their families is immense. I have always wanted to help discover more rapid, specific, and less toxic treatments to decrease that burden. 

Do you have children?
Yes: Maxwell (6 yo), Olivia (4 yo) 

Are you a dog or cat person?
Dog

What do you like to do when you’re not in the lab?
Spend time with my family; running; tennis.

What’s your favorite piece of lab equipment and why?
The microscope. The way that natural killer (NK) cells got their name is that in the 1970’s a brilliant scientist isolated a ‘different’ type of immune cell and saw under the microscope that this cell swam around killing all the tumor cells on the plate without needing any type of support. So, he named it a ‘natural killer.’ I still get excited today when I literally get to see with my own eyes an NK cell kill tumor cells right in from of me! 

What’s your favorite cookie? 
Oatmeal chocolate chip

Dr. Parihar (middle) and his colleagues in the lab.

Dr. Parihar (middle) and his colleagues in the lab.