Dr. Castellino is a physician-scientist and pediatric neuro-oncologist at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine. He is a member of the Cancer Cell Biology Research Program in the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Emory. He also holds the title of Co-Chair of the Emory University Research Committee.
Dr. Castellino joined Children’s and Emory University in 2007 after serving on the faculty at the Texas Children’s Cancer Center/Baylor College of Medicine from 2005 to 2007. Prior to becoming a board-certified pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Castellino received a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University, and then a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He subsequently completed his medical doctorate at Duke University in 1999, residency in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in 2002 and a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology in 2005.
Dr. Castellino feels fortunate to work with a team devoted to the mission of not only curing childhood cancer but helping young patients and their families overcome the physical, mental, emotional and financial challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis.
In his spare time, you will find Dr. Castellino at Dynamo Swim Club, on his road bike, at local bookshops or farmers markets and spending time with his family and dog. Although Dr. Castellino grew up in Charlotte, N.C., he loves the diversity of the area and loves to call Decatur and Atlanta his home.
Dr. Castellino’s translational research focuses on aberrant signaling that diverts normal developmental programs toward the growth of high-grade malignancy in the developing brain. In particular, he is interested in the pathobiology of medulloblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). DIPG is a clinically aggressive high-grade glioma that is localized to an area of the brain that is crucial for control of vital functions, and thus not amenable to resection. Despite recent advances, DIPG is associated with the highest mortality of all pediatric brain tumors. This highlights the urgent need for a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of medulloblastoma and DIPGs.
Current research is focused on the role and targeting of p53 pathways in high-grade pediatric brain tumors. Projects in Dr. Castellino’s laboratory are examining the p53-dependent and -independent functions of the PP2C-like protein phosphatase, PPM1D/WIP1, in pediatric brain tumors. They are studying the signaling that allows high expression of PPM1D to promote growth and dissemination of SHH, Group 3 and Group 4 medulloblastomas. They are also exploring the role of PPM1D in the pathogenesis of DIPGs.
The goal of Dr. Castellino’s laboratory is to use in vitro assays, mouse models and patient-derived tissues to improve understanding of the molecular drivers of high-grade brain tumors and their dissemination in children, to understand the signaling that confers resistance to radiation and conventional chemotherapeutic agents, and to design novel approaches to treatment that will improve both the survival and outcomes of children diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumor.
Focus of Practice
- Developmental therapeutics
Areas of Interest
- Pediatric brain tumors
- Phase I/II clinical trials
- Precision medicine-based approaches to high-grade or progressive brain tumors