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Leading Institute Joins Consortium on DNA Damage Response Treatments for Adults and Children with Brain Cancer

Published on August 31, 2023 in Press Release

Today, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), in partnership with Yale Cancer Center, announced that Jann Sarkaria, MD, radiation oncologist, and co-leader of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center Neuro-oncology program, is joining its DNA Damage Response Consortium. The consortium — which also comprises experts from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; New York University Grossman School of Medicine (NYU); the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and the University of Minnesota –– aims to rapidly advance a new class of promising potential treatments that can target a brain tumor’s DNA damage response (DDR) network.

“This consortium is creating an environment that allows for optimal testing of whether drugs and combinations of therapies targeting the DDR network can improve outcomes for children and adults with malignant brain tumors, ranging from the most aggressive glioblastomas to other tumor types including astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas,” said Kirk Tanner, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society. “This strategy is producing positive results for those diagnosed with breast, ovarian, and other cancers, and investigation of DDR targets and related therapies needs to be accelerated in brain cancer. Dr. Sarkaria and his lab are a great complement to the team we’ve assembled, and their expertise will help us as we attempt overcome some of the key challenges to successful drug development in neuro-oncology, including getting drugs across the blood-brain barrier, overcoming resistance mechanisms, and launching smarter clinical trials that learn quickly from every patient.”

Dr. Sarkaria’s Translational Neuro-Oncology Laboratory is interested in understanding the basis of resistance to chemotherapy and radiation, identifying methods to overcome therapy resistance, and using innovative approaches to develop targeted therapies and combination treatment strategies. Dr. Sarkaria’s lab is also developing methods to improve delivery of drugs  into brain tumors, and are known for modeling brain tumors for use in laboratory studies.

Within the DNA Damage Response Consortium, Dr. Sarkaria and his lab are collaborating closely with the University of Minnesota group, led by Dr. William Elmquist, to study the effects and optimal dosing for treatments that target a core component of the DNA repair system in brain tumors. 

NBTS and Yale Cancer Center initially launched the consortium in early 2022. The effort is bolstered by a partnership with IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and clinical research services. 

Ranjit Bindra, MD, PhD, Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Scientific Director of the Chênevert Family Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center serves as the consortium’s co-principal investigator. Dr. Bindra is joined in this role by 

Dr. Nathalie Agar, Founding Director of the Surgical Molecular Imaging Laboratory, Daniel E. Ponton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Radiology at Harvard Medical School.

About the National Brain Tumor Society

Building on over 30 years of experience, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) unrelentingly invests in, mobilizes, and unites the brain tumor community to discover a cure, deliver effective treatments, and advocate for patients and caregivers. Our focus on defeating brain tumors and improving the quality of patients’ lives is powered by our partnerships across science, health care, policy, and business sectors. We fund treatments-focused research and convene those most critical to curing brain tumors once and for all. Join us at

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