National Brain Tumor Society Gathers Leaders at its 2012 Summit to Support Scientific Collaboration and Advance the Field of Brain Tumor Research

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Systems biology-based research vital to advancing the discovery and development of therapies.

BOSTON – Headquartered in Watertown, MA, National Brain Tumor Society, the largest nonprofit dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States, held its annual meeting and symposium last week in Boston, MA, on October 11-13. The National Brain Tumor Society 2012 Summit hosted leaders in academia, industry, nonprofit, and government, as well as patients, survivors, and families to discuss key research findings, celebrate accomplishments, and honor leaders from the brain tumor community.

Key themes repeatedly heard and spoken among the attendees at the 2012 Summit were the importance of systems biology-based research and the value of collaboration. As the only brain tumor organization with both a Chief Scientific Officer and a Director of Public Policy, National Brain Tumor Society continues to partner with a wide array of organizations to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of brain tumors, the barriers to research advancements, and the resources needed to support translational science for the development of durable therapies. Focused on creating change, National Brain Tumor Society has also used this knowledge to challenge its academic colleagues and grant recipients to approach their brain tumor research through systems biology, which provides a better understanding of genes and their mechanisms of action through an integrated view.

At the 2012 Summit, leading researchers and clinicians, as well as peers in nonprofit, government, and industry also concurred that systems biology is required to foster progress of therapeutic developments for brain tumors, as well as a better understanding of the behaviors of a wide array of other cancer genes. Knowing how they (genes) develop, interact, and change as part of a system, will enable a more predictive approach to therapy development, thus enhancing efficacy and overall success.

“With a disease where over 120 different tumor types exist, and with only 4 FDA-approved treatments for adults in the last 20 years, the time is now. We can no longer try to understand brain tumors with a unilateral approach,” said N. Paul TonThat, executive director of the National Brain Tumor Society. “Brain tumors are deadly and there is no cure, so we have to foster collaboration and the scientific models that are poised to deliver new, durable treatments, sooner. It’s our obligation to this community, and we won’t rest until a cure is found,” said TonThat.

Through the first phase of its Mary Catherine Calisto Systems Biology Initiative, a multiyear grant program, National Brain Tumor Society is currently supporting several multi-disciplinary research teams at leading institutions such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of California, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, University of Alabama, University of Florida, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Phase II will encourage an even greater team-science approach by allowing the Phase I recipients to collaborate together, and leverage their initial findings and achievements (presented at the 2012 Summit) to expedite the progress of Phase II research.
The 2012 Summit included an annual meeting, the first convening of state lead advocates, a research symposium, and the Boston Brain Tumor Walk which rallied 3,000 participants and raised over $500,000 to fund critical brain tumor research.

Sponsored by EMD Serono and The Colony Group, the event hosted distinguished speakers from the brain tumor community including Anna Barker, PhD (Transformative Healthcare Networks, Arizona State University), WK Al Yung, MD and Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Dennis Berman, JD (Tocagen, Inc.), Robert Langer, Sc.D and Ernest Fraenkel, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Tyler Jacks, PhD (Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Wendy Selig, (Melanoma Research Institute), and Timothy Cloughsey, MD (University of California, Los Angeles).

National Brain Tumor Society also honored the following individuals and families for their steadfast commitment to the brain tumor community:

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.), and chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research was awarded the Founders Award in recognition of her tireless efforts and leadership to support the advancement of cancer research.

Community Leadership awards were presented to Dr. Howard Fine of New York University’s Brain Tumor Center for his outstanding service to brain tumor patients; the Greene and Neidorf families for their ability to raise awareness and funds for oligodendroglioma research, the second most common glioma among all brain tumor patients, especially children and young adults; and BethAnn Telford, a brain tumor advocate and survivor who serves as an symbol of inspiration and hope to patients around the world.

To learn more about the National Brain Tumor Society 2012 Summit including a full list of speakers, presentation topics, awards, event highlights and photos, visit

About Brain Tumors
Today, 688,000 Americans are living with a primary brain tumor, and over 200,000 more will be diagnosed this year. Brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer-related death in children under the age of 20. Only one out of three adults diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor today will be alive in five years. And, more so than any other cancer, a brain tumor can have life-altering and long-term psychological, cognitive, behavioral, and physical effects.

About National Brain Tumor Society
National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States. We are fiercely committed to finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for people living with a brain tumor today and those who will be diagnosed tomorrow. This means aggressively driving strategic research and advocating for public policies, which meet the critical needs of this community. To learn more visit

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Alison Bengel
National Brain Tumor Society
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