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Top Boston Hospitals Latest to Join Consortium Bringing Forward DNA Damage Response Treatments for Adults and Children with Brain Cancer

Published on June 27, 2023 in ResearchEOY, Press Release

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

“In order to rapidly evaluate this promising class of treatments for patients with malignant brain tumors, collaboration with experts from across the disciplines that move therapies from bench to bedside is vital,” said Kirk Tanner, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society. “We’re excited to now have leaders from six of the world’s best brain tumor programs, including Dana-Farber and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, working together in the DNA Damage Response Consortium. These additions better position our group to meet some of the most important challenges  that have thwarted many previous attempts to develop transformative treatments for brain cancer, including getting drugs across the blood brain barrier, stopping cancer’s ability to repair and grow, seeking combination treatment early on, and launching better clinical trials that learn quickly.”

Nathalie Agar, PhD, 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, will assume the role of the consortium’s co-principal investigator. She joins 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, in the co-principal investigator role.

Dr. Agar’s lab is a pioneer in the development and implementation of integrated biomolecular and drug imaging of tissue specimens through mass spectrometry. Dr. Agar brings critical skills in biomarker discovery, pharmacometabolomics, specimen preparation, and data analysis to the consortium. 

At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Patrick Wen, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber, will coordinate the multicenter clinical trials consortium that will evaluate the novel DDR targeting drugs, beginning with already enrolling surgical “window-of-opportunity” study of pembrolizumab, olaparib, and temozolomide in patients with recurrent glioblastoma.

NBTS and the Bindra lab at Yale Cancer Center initially launched the consortium in early 2022, leveraging years of experience and expertise in DNA Damage Response and biomarker-driven precision medicine approaches to the initiative. The effort is bolstered by a partnership with IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and clinical research services. Additional hospital-based laboratories are anticipated to join the consortium in 2023. 

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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