The Neuro-Oncology Program has been an Established Research Program since 2005. The Program is led by a basic scientist, C. Stiles(DFCI), and a clinician, R. Martuza(MGH), both of whom bring years of leadership experience to their respective roles. The central focus of the Neuro-Oncology Program has been high grade-glioma in adults. The Program has a clinical trials portfolio that offers a range of therapeutic modalities for glioma, including: radiation, tumor vaccines, oncolytic viruses and signal transduction inhibitors. There are also two signal transduction pathways identified as areas of priority: VEGF antagonists and PI3K antagonists. Pediatric neuro-oncology is a growing area of interest. Genetically simple tumors of children have historically shed light on more common, genetically complex adult tumors. One of the significant strengths of the Neuro-Oncology Program in this regard is the presence of a strong pediatric oncology program anchored at DFCI for outpatient care and CHB, a nationally recognized pediatric hospital, for inpatient services, creating a unified pediatric oncology facility that has spanned both institutions for decades. Over the next five years, a goal is to move recent genetic insights from the bench to the bedside in order to improve the standard of clinical care and enable genetically-informed clinical trials. The Program plans to develop CLIA-certified assays for all "actionable" genetic lesions in high-grade glioma and to apply these assays to every tumor resected at DF/HCC hospitals. There are 93 members in the Program drawn from all seven DF/HCC member institutions. They represent 13 departments of HMS and one department of HSPH. Collectively, members receive over $22.6 million in cancer-relevant funding, of which $8.1 million was from NCI and $10 million was from other peer-reviewed sponsors. During the project period (2006 to 2010), members published 997 articles in peer-reviewed journals, of which 18% were intra-programmatic, 33% were inter-programmatic, and 21% were interinstitutional. At the time of the CCSG renewal in 2005, the Program received a merit score of "excellent to very good".
High-grade gliomas in adult patients are generally incurable. Collectively, these tumors are the third leading cause of cancer-related death among middle-aged men and the fourth leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 34. The goal of the Neuro-Oncology Program is to improve the standard of care for patients with these tumors through genetically informed clinical trials (a.k.a. personalized medicine) conducted on a new generation of targeted therapeutics (a.k.a. smart drugs).
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