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What I am most excited about in brain cancer research…

By Nick Vitanza, MD – DIPG Researcher at Seattle Children’s and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

“Collaboration is what I am most excited about in brain cancer research. I am thankful to be in a rich research environment at Seattle Children’s and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, but, while I am excited about our laboratory work understanding the epigenetic regulation of DIPG and our immunotherapy trials of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, all of these projects rely on external teamwork.

Our upcoming clinical trial evaluating panobinostat and marizomib stems from work I was fortunate to contribute to while in Michelle Monje’s lab at Stanford and the trial is being spearheaded by Kathy Warren at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the ALL-IN DIPG collaborative. Laboratory and clinical studies of the drug ONC201 rely on shared work with Sharon Gardner at NYU, Carl Koschmann at the University of Michigan, Javad Nazarian and Sabine Mueller at University Children’s Hospital Zurich, and other partners in the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) and Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC). Seattle Children’s CAR T cell trials (called BrainChild) already incorporate state-of-the-art sequencing led by Mike Berens at Tgen and our next-generation of CAR T cell trials will be driven through collaboration with other laboratory researchers like Adam Resnick and Jess Foster at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, in fact it’s just the surface of a huge body of DIPG researchers working together, inspiring each other and quickening our communal progress. This work is only possible thanks to the generosity of a funding community that has adapted to support more shared projects and thanks to the patients and families who fight so hard to connect us all. Our progress is thanks to them and the community of researchers who have stepped out of the scientific rat race for individual accomplishments and sacrificed their own prominence to work together to improve the lives of children with brain and spinal cord tumors.”

Yesterday, May 17 2020, marked the first DIPG Awareness Day. Check out this conversation between Dr. Vitanza, patient Jace Ward, and Rachna Prasad of the Mithil Prasad Foundation:

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