Top experts from across sectors of brain cancer research – government, industry, academia, medical, patients, and advocates – discuss how to address biggest unmet barriers to new treatments and a cure
National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), the largest nonprofit dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States, recently hosted its annual Scientific Summit bringing together many of the brain tumor and brain cancer field’s top minds from government, industry, academia, and medical research to plot a new map forward toward greater progress for patients.
“This year’s Scientific Summit fostered a candid and open set of conversations among top minds from different sectors of the field on what are a number of the most pressing issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the field and how to move forward toward better treatments and cure,” said David F. Arons, JD, Chief Executive Officer, National Brain Tumor Society. “We are encouraged with the level of dialogue and debate, and believe the day’s program offered a glimpse at the real, tangible progress being made currently in the field, as well as identified the key barriers that still need to be addressed in order to a cure for many types of brain tumors.”
The day’s agenda included a keynote address by Dr. Bradley Bernstein of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT on how genetic and epigenetic factors converge to drive the evolution of glioma brain tumors. Four panels and discussion topics followed, representing areas of major importance to accelerating the discovery and development of new treatments for brain tumor patients, particularly those with the most common and aggressive malignant brain tumor, glioblastoma. The day was moderated by Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung of MD Anderson Cancer Center and National Brain Tumor Society’s Distinguished Scientific Advisor.
These sessions included robust conversations on critical areas impeding progress that the field is attempting to deal with as a whole.
- Session 1 — Tackling Adversity: Heterogeneity and Tumor Evolution
Drs. Joseph Costello (University of California, San Francisco), Bradley Bernstein, Webster Cavenee (Ludwig Cancer Research), and Kristin Swanson (Mayo Clinic)
- Session 2 — Tackling Adversity: Signaling and Tumor Metabolism
Drs. Paul Mischel (Ludwig Cancer Research), Ingo Mellinghoff (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Sriram Venneti (University of Michigan)
The afternoon sessions looked at some of the most promising areas of research to address unmet needs in neuro-oncology.
- Session 3 — Maximizing Opportunities: Therapeutic Strategies and Blood-Brain Barrier
Drs. Patrick Wen (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), Howard Fine (Weil Cornell Medical Center), Alan Olivero (Genentech), Kathy Warren (National Cancer Institute)
- Session 4 — Maximizing Opportunities: Immune System and Immunotherapy
Drs. David Reardon (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), Michael Lim (Johns Hopkins), Cassian Yee (MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Dr. Webster Cavenee provided the day’s wrap-up and closing session, and recapped the key takeaways from each session by posing three pertinent questions that arose from each session that the field could use as action items to address “perhaps quickly,” in response to areas of need and opportunity addressed during the Summit.
“This year’s Summit was particularly impactful, as it generated collective ideas and areas of focus to move this field forward to discover and develop much needed new and better treatments for brain tumor patients,” said Dr. Yung. “As Dr. Cavenee’s summary points laid out, we now have, perhaps, a guide for a national agenda for the next few years for brain tumor research funding.”
Following the main scientific program, a “poster” session was combined with a reception to allow for more sharing of information and discussion. Scientific poster presenters included NBTS-funded researchers: Drs. Frank Furnari (Ludwig Cancer Research), John de Groot and Erik Sulman (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Mellinghoff, Mischel and Tim Cloughesy (UCLA), Daniel Brat (Northwestern), Samuel Cheshier (Stanford), Elizabeth Claus (Yale/Brigham and Women’s Hospital), Robert Jenkins (Mayo Clinic), Roel Verhaak (Jackson Laboratory); and Michael Prados (University of California, San Francisco).
The Summit concluded with a dinner program and awards ceremony. Honored during the awards ceremony were, 2017 NBTS Achievement recipients:
- Advocate of the Year – Patti and Ron Gauvin; NBTS Volunteer State-Lead Advocates for New Hampshire
- Community Leadership Award for Volunteerism – Michael Wenger; Volunteer designer of the NBTS Clinical Trial Finder
- Community Leadership Award for a Colleague Organization – Society of Neuro-Oncology (SNO)
- Feldman Founder’s Award – Dr. G. Yancey Gillespie, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Ross Founder’s Award – Dr. Michael Prados, University of California, San Francisco
A full recap of the day’s main scientific program will be available in the coming weeks on www.braintumor.org.
About National Brain Tumor Society
National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to the brain tumor community. We are fiercely committed to finding better treatments and driving rapid progress toward a cure for brain tumors. We drive a multi-faceted and thoughtful approach to aggressively influence and fund strategic research, as well as advocate for public policy changes, in order to achieve the greatest impact, results, and progress for brain tumor patients. Money raised by the generous donations of our supporters has directly funded groundbreaking discoveries, programs, clinical trials and policy initiatives. To learn more visit www.braintumor.org
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