CMRC Children's Memorial Research Center

Profile: Mary Beth Madonna

InTouch Winter 2008 (Volume 4: Issue 4)

Mary Beth Madonna, MD, is an attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and a member of the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program at Children's Memorial Research Center. Juggling her demanding schedule can be challenging, but she emphasizes that her division head, Marleta Reynolds, MD, and fellow staff members have been very good about allowing her protected time to pursue research activities.
Clinical experiences motivate her research. Most children who come to the hospital with neuroblastoma — the second most common solid tumor in children — have a poor prognosis. Mary Beth wants to understand cellular behavior in the disease in order to find therapies. She recently created a less virulent neuroblastoma cell line by inserting a gene for nerve growth factor, and is beginning to characterize the cell line to ultimately develop treatments.
Mary Beth finds fulfillment in seeing patients and their families postoperatively. “They’re sick, you take care of the problem, they come back and they’re happy,” she says. On the research side, it can take years to find a discovery that’s clinically relevant, so the smaller steps, such as getting a good result, are exciting. She regards the late Bernard Mirkin, PhD, MD, as an inspiration, and hopes she can continue the same quality of work that he brought to the bench.

In her very limited spare time, Mary Beth spends time with her family, all Chicago area residents. She makes her home in Streeterville and loves to spend summers outdoors enjoying local venues such as Navy Pier and Millennium Park. She ran in the Chicago Marathon last September and intends to compete again in 2008 to raise money for Children’s Memorial.

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