Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
Working to eliminate the challenges
of childhood brain tumors
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Opportunity Grants

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's Opportunity Grants fill critical needs in brain tumor research for children and teens. Discussions with the PBTF's Research Advisory Network and the broader scientific community help us recognize candidates for funding. The PBTF’s current Opportunity Grants focus on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and medulloblastoma research.

COLLABORATIONS TO CURE DIPG

Although medical advances in the past 40 years have improved survival rates for many types of childhood cancer, DIPG is not one of them. This highly aggressive brain tumor defies treatment and currently has a zero-percent survival rate. Research on DIPG is performed in laboratories throughout the world, but previous efforts have been highly fragmented. The following Opportunity Grant awardees involve multi-investigator, multi-site efforts collaborating for a DIPG cure. These projects also hold tremendous potential for the study and treatment of other types of childhood brain tumors.

Project "All In" for DIPG

Award: $100,000 over one year with the possibility of renewal
Principal Investigators: Kathy Warren, MD, Head of Neuro-Oncology Section, Senior Investigator in Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, and Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, Stanford
Funding Partner: A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure

When clinical testing of a drug begins, there can be significant gaps in knowledge or conflicting information about its basic biological performance. Securing additional funds to fill in these gaps is often challenging for labs; however, these gaps are important factors contributing to high drug failure rates in patients.

Project “All In” for DIPG is a novel public-private partnership led by the National Cancer Institute to coordinate DIPG studies and better qualify drug candidates for clinical trials in children by facilitating more thorough evaluation.

The project’s mission is two-fold:

  1. Establish and maintain a major effort to coordinate DIPG studies that will more efficiently and successfully advance DIPG therapies
  2. Establish a critical pipeline of therapeutic trials for all stages of the DIPG disease process.

The PBTF’s Opportunity grant supports All In’s “intramural project fund” at NCI. This precedent-setting grant is specifically designed to distribute funding as project requests are received and reviewed. The fluidity in available funding will greatly reduce researchers’ grant-writing time - shifting the concern from “What grant can I get?” to “What work needs to be done?”

This partnership also enables the PBTF to sit on the project’s Oversight Committee for evaluating funding requests. Being a part of it strengthens our expertise and insight into the research landscape at the national level.

Project Open DIPG Study Focused on HDAC Inhibitors

Award: $100,000 over one year with the possibility of renewal
Principal Investigators: Adam Resnick, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Javad Nazarian, PhD, Children’s National Health System, Benjamin Garcia, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Funding Partners: A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure; CJR Memorial Foundation

This multi-institutional Project Open DIPG study uses state-of-the-art technology to determine the potency of candidate drugs belonging to the novel class of molecules called HDAC inhibitors.

This grant enables researchers to:

  1. Compare the treatments’ effects on its own versus in combination with other types of treatments
  2. Study the cancer cells’ molecular functionality at the DNA and protein levels
  3. Determine animal model survival rates and duration

Project Open DIPG is a joint venture by the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium, a previous PBTF Opportunity Grant awardee, and the Children's Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium.

The research builds on PNOC’s clinical trial portfolio through biospecimen collection, genomic sequencing, and an experimental animal model systems approach supported by CBTTC. The tissue samples will be added to CBTTC’s biorepository, and data from preclinical drug testing in DIPG tumor samples will be deposited into the CAVATICA platform.

CUTTING-EDGE MEDULLOBLASTOMA RESEARCH

Medulloblastoma is an incredibly complex form of pediatric brain cancer, with recent research uncovering an entire series of previously unknown subtypes. The PBTF's Opportunity Grant at Massachusetts General Hospital will use pioneering technology to reveal innovative treatment approaches critically needed for children with medulloblastoma.

Critical Mechanisms of Gene Regulation in Medulloblastoma

Award: $300,000 over two years
Principal Investigators: Miguel N. Rivera, MD, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Funding Partner:
Christopher Brandle Joy of Life Foundation

The studies conducted over this project's two-year period will reveal the connection between and function of gene regulatory elements previously identified by Dr. Rivera’s lab as drivers of Group 3 medulloblastoma. This tumor subtype comprises 30% of all medulloblastoma cases and is associated with the poorest prognosis. Researchers will accomplish this by using new genomic and gene editing technologies to build 3D conformation maps of chromosomes/genomes from Group 3 medulloblastoma cells and directly test the function of key regulators of gene expression and their associated target genes.


The PBTF considers Opportunity Grant candidates on a continuous, case-by-case basis. Applications are accepted by invitation only; however, we welcome discussion of research ideas that fit with our strategic priorities, particularly if the ideas involve multi-institutional efforts.