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Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Names Awardees of Early Career Development Research Grants

10/17/19

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is excited to announce three new Early Career Development research grants.

The PBTF’s multi-year Early Career Development program funds talented pediatric brain tumor researchers who are in the first five years of their first faculty position, with the expectation that this funding will facilitate grantees’ transition to becoming fully independent investigators.

Each grant awardee will receive $300,000 over the next three years to support their research project. The projects will study blood-brain barrier permeability and drug penetration in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas, viral mimicry as a potential therapeutic strategy against H3K27M-driven midline high-grade gliomas, and the use of ATM inhibition to radiosensitize brainstem gliomas.

“It is critically important to keep fueling the pediatric brain tumor field with talented and dedicated researchers who have a long-term commitment to moving the needle forward and carving out new lines of investigation,” says Dr. Joanne Salcido, PBTF’s vice president of research and advocacy. “Our Early Career Development awardees’ work today and over the years ahead offers hope for changing the future for the good of all children and teens diagnosed with a brain tumor.”

The following researchers and three-year projects were awarded a $300,000 Early Career Development grant:

Timothy Phoenix, PhD, University of Cincinnati
Co-mentors: Q. Richard Lu, PhD, and Maryam Fouladi, MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Project title: Maintenance of DIPG Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity by Angiopoietin1

Stephen C. Mack, PhD, Texas Children’s Hospital
Primary mentor: Donald W. Parsons, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital
Co-mentor: Nada Jabado, MD, PhD, McGill University
Project title: Harnessing Viral Mimicry to Target H3K27M-Driven Pediatric Glioma

Zachary Reitman, PhD, Duke University
Co-mentors: David G. Kirsch, MD, PhD, and David M. Ashley, MBBS, PhD, Duke University
Project title: Identifying Brainstem Glioma Subtypes That Can Be Radiosensitized by ATM Inhibition

View Early Career Development project summaries at www.curethekids.org/early-career-grants. Proposals were evaluated by a scientific review team on the merit of researchers’ mentorship and research environment, researchers’ productivity to date and career plan, and the proposed research projects.

“Given the significant and ever-increasing challenge of establishing a successful research program as a junior investigator, grant mechanisms such as the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Early Career Development grants awarded to Drs. Mack, Phoenix and Reitman are critical to support the development of the next generation of brain tumor researchers,” says Dr. Parsons, who will serve as Dr. Mack’s primary grant mentor. “Equally importantly, the collaborative research community fostered through the PBTF will serve to provide valuable guidance and mentorship as these researchers pursue scientific advancements and novel therapies for children with brain tumors.”

The PBTF started its Early Career Development program in 2014 to support rising stars in research and seed the field for future pediatric brain tumor discovery. Previous awards have led to progress in medulloblastoma and neuro-epidemiology research and helped recipients leverage additional research funding to establish their work in the pediatric brain tumor field. Following receipt of an Early Career Development grant, Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay, MBBS, PhD, was named Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and launched the Bandopadhayay Lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Early Career Development program was key in supporting me in the very early stages of my career,” says Dr. Bandopadhayay. “The research results generated through this award allowed me to get more funding from the National Institutes of Health and allowed me to get the training and mentorship that was essential in helping me set up my own independent lab which is dedicated to pediatric brain tumors. Just as important, the Early Career Development grant allowed me to become part of the PBTF family, introducing me to other scientists with whom I now collaborate. Thank you so much to the PBTF for supporting me with an Early Career Development award.”

As part of our continued commitment to foster innovation in the pediatric brain tumor research field, the PBTF is also sponsoring the Young Investigators portion of the 2019 Neurobiology of Disease in Children (NDC) conference. This year’s NDC on Oct. 23 and 24 will focus on pediatric brain tumors.  The Young Investigators program highlights the research of up-and-coming scientists and engages them in discussion of future directions and research priorities.

“The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is honored to provide support for the NDC symposium’s high-quality program. It assembles preeminent investigators and medical practitioners who tend to the impaired neurological function pediatric brain tumor patients can experience as a result of their tumor or treatment,” says Dr. Salcido. “The program’s emphasis on patient-focused research aligns with the PBTF’s dual-mission to fuel lifesaving cures and life-changing family support, with this forum also giving us a platform to increase the medical community’s awareness of the family support resources we offer.”

As the world's leading nonprofit dedicated to children and teens with brain tumors, the PBTF has invested and partnered with organizations to invest more than $44 million in scientific discovery at more than 50 centers worldwide. Visit www.curethekids.org/research to learn more about the PBTF’s Early Career Development grants and other research programs.