Philadelphia plays host as NBTS celebrates the brain tumor community, announces research grants, and looks ahead on finding a cure
PHILADELPHIA - Brain tumors may be an isolating disease but the brain tumor community came together for the National Brain Tumor Society 2011 Summit in Philadelphia from Nov. 3-6. The Summit kicked off with the NBTS Annual Meeting at the Franklin Institute. With a statue of the great innovator, Benjamin Franklin, towering over the crowd, NBTS presented a new vision for finding a cure for brain tumors and announced the 2011 research grant recipients and Community Leadership Award winners.
The audience of more than 200 patients, caregivers, family members, supporters, and researchers, heard the head of the new NBTS Strategic Advisory Committee, Dr. Alfred Yung, Chairman and Professor of Neurology and the Margaret & Ben Love Chair in Clinical Cancer in the Department of Neuro-Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, explain how NBTS is kicking its already aggressive pursuit of a cure into overdrive.
"We are embarking today on a serious multi-year engagement that will bring together the very best of academia, research, and industry with one and only one mission – to find a cure first for high-grade gliomas, then other brain cancers," said Dr. Yung. "We will need to break the current research funding paradigm. We will need to break the usual barriers between institutions and industries. It won’t be easy, but it is what must be done."
NBTS announced the research projects that it is funding in 2011 as well as the Chairs of Research that help to support that research. Six researchers received grants from the largest research initiative it has ever funded – the Mary Catherine Calisto Systems Biology Initiative: Markus Bredel, MD, PhD, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham (Billy Grey Chair in Systems Biology); James M. Gallo, PhD, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Jacqueline Oswald Chair in Systems Biology); Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego (James Ronan Family Chair in Systems Biology); Anna M. Krichevsky, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Hamill Family Chair in Systems Biology) and Ingo Mellinghoff, MD of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Edward Driggers, PhD of Agios Pharmaceuticals; Thomas Graeber, PhD, of UCLA (Barry and Caren Glassman Chair in Systems Biology); and Brent A. Reynolds, PhD of the University of Florida (BethAnn Telford Chair in Systems Biology).
In addition to supporting systems biology research, NBTS is three Developmental Neurobiology Approaches to Pediatric Cancer Research in In collaboration with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Recipients were: Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD, of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; Alexandra Joyner, PhD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Joseph Scafidi, DO of Children’s Research Institute.
NBTS also awarded grants to David Largaespada, PhD from the University of Minnesota (Seth Harris Feldman Chair of Research) and James Wascheck, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles (Caroline Christine Peabody Chair of Research).
The community celebrated Community Leadership Award recipients who are making a difference through their commitment to the cause. Dellann Elliott of the Chris Elliott Fund was presented with the Community Leadership Award for a Colleague Organization in recognition for her passion and commitment to education, awareness, advocacy, and research with a goal of ending brain cancer. The Community Leadership Award for Programs and Events was given to the Sullivan Family, who have raised vital funds and provided leadership and support in memory of Danny Sullivan through three key NBTS programs, the Delaware Brain Tumor Walk, the Tulips Against Tumors Tribute, and Justin’s Quest. The Community Leadership Award tonight for Awareness was presented to Karen Armentani, a brain tumor survivor who has worked enthusiastically and tirelessly as a patient advocate and brain tumor warrior.
The Summit continued over the next three days with a research symposium discussing the importance of systems biology, a program for patients and families, and a 5K fundraising run/walk the Race for Hope – Philadelphia. For more information on everything that took place at the Summit, go to www.braintumor.org/summit.