UCSF Today


Latest News Releases

James Wins Grant for Brain Tumor Research

C. David James, PhD, a professor in residence of neurological surgery at USCF, has been awarded a grant to identify how brain tumors with different genetic features respond to a set of treatment regimens.

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, a newly formed family foundation dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for patients with brain tumors, has awarded James a grant as part of the Ivy Genomics-based Medicine Project.

James is the associate director and principal investigator of the Brain Tumor Research Center at USCF.  The broad-based objectives of his laboratory’s research are to increase understanding of the molecular biology underlying the development of central nervous system cancer, and to apply this knowledge toward improved outcomes for brain tumor patients.

The Ivy Genomics-Based Medicine Project (Ivy GBM Project), a collaboration among nine US institutions, seeks a better understanding of how the genetic differences win individual brain tumors can help investigators predict the most effective treatment option for each patient.  The project will categorize tumors by molecular profiling and for the first time in brain cancer research, test each tumor against a wide spectrum of treatments to match differences in response with the profiles.

“Currently, all patients get basically the same treatment without taking into account the genetic profile of their tumor,” said Catherine Ivy, founder of the Ivy Foundation.  “The goal of this research initiative is to identify how tumors with different genetic features respond to a set of treatment regimens an ultimately,  it is hoped , provided physicians with the tools they need to offer brain tumors patients the most effective treatment options based on their specific genetic profile of their tumor.”

The $3 million Ivy GBM Project grant was awarded to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, AZ.  Under the leadership of Michael Berens, PhD, TGen will coordinate and manage the two-stage project spanning four to five years as well as provide expertise in genomics-based research.

UCSF is part of the new consortium of nine academic laboratories that will use models for predicting treatment response based on the genetic profile of a patient’s tumor.  Real-time collaborative linkages and project-specific communication are provided through the support of 5AM Solutions of Reston, VA.  The successful completion of the first stage of the investigation will form the basis for funding the second stage, a clinical trial for patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.

“The Ivy Foundation’s fast and flexible approach to brain cancer research, combined with the unique gathering of exceptional researchers from leading medical institutions across the United States, is already generating several ‘firsts’ in brain cancer research, “ said Berens.

“The Ivy GBM Project was initiated at unprecedented speed.  Institutional agreements were signed in a remarkable four months, and because of the collaborative nature of the project, researchers will now be able to compare results across institutions on a diverse set of tumors and treatment regimen response patterns.  The size, scope and potential impact this project will have for patients with brain cancer are simply huge.”

In addition to UCSF, the Ivy GBM Project’s phase one includes eight other institutions.  TGen, Ohio State University, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Henry Ford Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Van Andel Research Institute.

“We are proud to partner with TGen and these fine institutions on a project that exemplifies what the Ivy Foundation is all about,” said Catherine Ivy.  “We see data sharing among researchers and medical institutions as a necessary component to moving the field of brain cancer research forward and instrumental in getting results quickly to the patients who need them.”

The Ivy Foundation is the nation’s largest privately funded foundation dedicated to improving survival and quality of life for people diagnosed with a brain tumor.

TGen is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results.  Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes.  TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases.