Summit 2012

Transforming Tomorrow, Today
National Brain Tumor Society Annual Meeting
October 11, 2012, Omni Parker House, Boston

Brain tumor patients, advocates, and family members joined leaders in academia, government, industry, and nonprofits at the National Brain Tumor Society Annual Meeting this year. In opening remarks, brain tumor survivor and NBTS board member Michael Nathanson summed up the purpose of the meeting:

“It is about coming together to share and support each other as a community, whether you are a patient, a caregiver, a researcher, a clinician, an industry professional, a donor, or a volunteer. And all of those constituencies are represented here tonight.”

Following an introduction by NBTS board chair and brain tumor survivor, Jeffrey Kolodin, Tim Cloughesy, MD, director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at UCLA, and vice chair of the NBTS medical advisory board, presented the evening’s keynote research address. Dr. Cloughesy discussed the state of affairs in clinical development of targeted therapies for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and how we might be able to leverage research findings in other cancers.

He explained that the kinds of research findings that have advanced the treatment of other cancers have not translated to GBM, which is not one tumor but a collection of subtypes of tumors that are all genetically different and that exist in a tumor microenvironment that is difficult to pinpoint and infiltrate. In a bit of a change in direction as to how research proceeds, Dr. Cloughesy said, “We are going to be developing in a parallel fashion the preclinical and clinical data, we are going to have reviews that occur to determine whether or not we’re effectively inhibiting the tumor and how we best can develop these targeted therapies.”

Awards and Tributes

Executive Director, N. Paul TonThat, gave an inspired tribute to our long-standing board member and leader Mary Catherine Calisto, who has helped lead our committed research agenda toward new treatments and ultimately a cure.

The NBTS Founders Award for Research Excellence was presented by NBTS founder Bonnie Feldman to Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc) for her decades of continued commitment and leadership at American Association for Cancer Research. In her incredibly gracious speech, Dr. Foti also highlighted our collaborative work. “It continues to be very satisfying that we are able to advance cancer systems biology, together, as a major scientific area that holds enormous potential for new discoveries and translating these (discoveries) to the clinic….We really applaud National Brain Tumor Society for its innovative approach to brain tumor research.”

The final culmination of the evening came as three Community Leadership Awards were presented for the outstanding efforts of incredible people in the community.

For Service

Dr. Howard Fine was recognized for his years of dedication and support of patients running the Neuro-oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute. Hear his reaction and thoughts in this video he provided

For Awareness
BethAnn Telford was recognized for her tireless work in advocating and supporting the brain tumor community, especially children. Although she greatly regretted being unable to attend in person, she responded in a video as she was realizing a lifelong dream to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii.

For Programs & Events

The Greene and the Neidorf families were both recognized for their relentless commitment to build awareness and raise funds for oligodendroglioma research.

A Busy Year

Scott Memmott, an honorary NBTS board member, brought attendees up to date on our activities and the activities of the researchers we have been funding over the past year. “Let me start by saying that the brain tumor community has made significant progress this past year,” he said. The advances have helped keep us optimistic, but we still don’t have durable treatments in sight. “As a result, we at NBTS are committed to leveraging key advancements and driving research to more effective therapies and, ultimately, a cure. We’ve sharpened our focus on the greatest areas of need so that we can speed up progress against brain tumors.

He recognized the following NBTS funded researchers for their continuing work for the brain tumor community and their respective supporting Chairs of Research:

Developmental Neurobiology

For the Rachel Molly Markoff Chair of Research: Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD,
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

For the Billy Gray Chair of Research: Alexandra Joyner, PhD,
Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

For the Kayla Wenger Chair of Research, Joseph Scafidi, DO,
Children’s Research Institute at the Children’s National Medical Center

Mary Catherine Calisto System Biology Initiative

For the Billy Grey Chair in Systems Biology: Markus Bredel, MD, PhD,
University of Alabama at Birmingham, represented at the meeting by Chris Willey, MD

For the Jacqueline Oswold Chair in Systems Biology: James Gallo, PhD,
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

For the James Ronan Family Chair in Systems Biology: Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD,
University of California, San Diego

For the Hamill Family Chair in Systems Biology: Anna Krichevsky, PhD,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

For the Barry and Caren Glassman Chair in Systems Biology, Ingo Mellinghoff, MD,
Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Edward Driggers, PhD,
Agios Pharmaceuticals
Thomas Graeber, PhD,
University of California, Los Angeles

For the BethAnn Telford Chair in Systems Biology: Brent Reynolds, PhD, Madan Kumar Oli, PhD,
University of Florida

Innovation Research Initiative

For the Seth Feldman Chair of Research: David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD
Washington University

Bridge Project:  a collaboration between the Koch Institute at MIT and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC)

Keith L. Ligon,
Dana Farber Cancer Institute

J. Christopher Love,
Koch Institute at MIT

Matthew Meyerson,
Dana Farber Cancer and Broad Institutes

The evening was also a time to recognize the first class of our state lead advocates who help to lead the10,000 brain tumor advocates taking action with us today. Our work in public policy and advocacy is playing a critical role in advancing research and the quality of life of brain tumor patients by making our shared voice heard.