The UCSF Brain Tumor SPORE (Specialized Program Of Research Excellence) is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, with the goal of improving diagnosis, prognostication, and therapy of brain tumors.
The SPORE includes basic researchers, physicians, and population scientists, concentrating in the areas of epidemiology, cancer genetics, cancer biology, and molecular therapeutics. Researchers are supported by administration and tissue core resources, a steering committee, and an external advisory board.
The SPORE focuses primarily on the development of new therapeutic approaches to brain tumor treatment and prevention using molecular insights gained from the wealth of basic cancer research ongoing at the University of California, San Francisco. The SPORE is organized into four projects, two developmental research programs, two career development programs and four supporting cores.
Approximately 20,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with malignant brain tumors each year. The diagnosis of brain tumors covers a variety of histologies, from the typically benign meningioma to the highly malignant glioblastoma. Although considerable effort has been made to improve the therapy of CNS tumors, the five-year survival rate for individuals with brain tumors remains approximately 25 percent. These data suggest that brain tumors remain a significant health problem in the U.S., and that efforts need to be made to improve patient survival.
The UCSF Brain Tumor SPORE comprises four translational projects focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors by applying laboratory advances to the clinical setting. The initiative also includes a Career Development Program to support and encourage new and/or young investigators in translational brain tumor research, and a Developmental Research Program to provide initial funding of promising projects which, over a two-year period may develop into full SPORE projects.
The UCSF Brain Tumor SPORE is led by Mitchel S. Berger, MD, who is responsible for the overall management of the program. Clinical Co-PI, Michael D. Prados, MD, provides clinical input into each of the projects and oversees the translation of the proposed work into clinical trials and Basic Science Co-PI, Russell O. Pieper, PhD provides basic science input into each of the projects. A Steering Committee includes Drs. Berger, Prados, and Pieper as well as Laura van’t Veer PhD, leader of the UCSF Breast Oncology Program, Eric Small, MD, the Deputy Director of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Frank McCormick, PhD, former Director of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. An External Advisory Board provides yearly input and evaluation, as well as long-term strategic support.
To facilitate both the accomplishment of the SPORE’s work and the spread of information derived from this work, Pre-Clinical Animal, Biospecimen/Pathology, Biostatistics and Clinical as well as an Administrative Core are included in addition to the four research projects. The Administrative Core facilitates interactions among projects, manages budgets, coordinates meetings, and provides administrative support. The Pre-Clinical Animal Core provides the expertise to test promising therapeutics in animal models of brain cancer. The Biospecimen/Pathology Core provides patient material and follow-up data to SPORE investigators and the Biostatistics and Clinical Core provides statistical input to projects and facilitates the movement of promising therapies into the clinical setting.
The Brain Tumor SPORE represents the translational research component of the Cancer Center’s Neurologic Oncology Program, which brings together neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, and basic scientists with the shared goal of improving the therapy of brain tumors. The program encompasses the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery, which is rated among the five best Departments of Neurosurgery in America by US News and World Report and is a national referral center for brain tumors; the UCSF Neuro-Oncology service, which is the home to several national clinical trial consortiums and enrolls over 200 patients per year in clinical trials; the basic scientists who comprise the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center; and other UCSF brain tumor investigators.