Summer 2006

Brain Tumor Research Draws on All Neuroscience

In recent years, there has been an explosive growth of information in the field of neuroscience, giving way to a new understanding of the mechanisms of neurogenesis and neurological disease. Given the particularly intriguing finding of the remarkable biological similarities between stem cells and cancer cells, we in the Department of Neurological Surgery are excited to have recruited David Rowitch, M.D., Ph.D., who will study the possible role of stem cells in brain tumors. As this type of brain tumor research continues to rapidly expand, it is critical to have an infrastructure that will allow us to turn new discoveries into new treatment options.

In the Department of Neurological Surgery, there is a long-standing tradition of bench-to-bedside translational research — research in which scientists and clinicians form partnerships to rapidly translate laboratory findings into new or improved forms of therapy. In 2002, the Brain Tumor Research Center (BTRC) was awarded one of two National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded Specialized Program of Research Excellence awards for brain tumors in order to foster the sort of collaboration on which the BTRC was founded.

As a member of the NCI-funded North American Brain Tumor Consortium and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, the Clinical Neuro-Oncology Program at UCSF has an international reputation for excellence in testing experimental brain tumor treatments and has recently opened a clinical trial for a newly developed brain tumor vaccine.

This multidisciplinary neurosurgical program, the largest of its kind on the West Coast, consists of experts from a variety of specialties and 14 full-time neurosurgeons who perform cutting-edge surgery, in addition to leading research laboratories. As new discoveries from every area of neuroscience provide us with more information about the nature of brain tumors, a multidisciplinary approach will become increasingly important for accomplishing the long-term goal of finding cures.

Mitchel S. Berger, M.D.
Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery

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