Transforming Tomorrow, Today

Michael Nathanson
Michael J. Nathanson,
Chair, Board of Directors
National Brain Tumor Society

September 19, 2013

Dear Community,

Earlier this summer, I began my term as Chair of the National Brain Tumor Society Board of Directors, and I did so with the knowledge and fervent belief that brain tumor research was on the cusp of a new era of innovation, global collaboration, and unique scientific efforts.

As the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the brain tumor community in the country and one with an acute focus on fostering new research models and funding mechanisms, I knew the National Brain Tumor Society was poised to continue its important leadership role in this new landscape. Thus, I was both excited and honored to assume this new role, as well as to partner with staff to guide the Organization’s initiatives to improve the lives of all those who have been affected by this disease.

Recently, I attended the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative meeting in Phoenix, AZ, which hosted scientific advisors, project teams, and key executives from world-class, global research institutions and was organized and led by Carrie Treadwell, Director of Research, National Brain Tumor Society and Defeat GBM’s Managing Director; Defeat GBM Scientific Director, Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung of MD Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Webster Cavenee, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Dr. Anna Barker of Arizona State University; as well as N. Paul TonThat, Chief Executive Officer, National Brain Tumor Society.

During this meeting, we reviewed the comprehensive scientific strategy and received updates on the designs, goals, and current progress of the four (4) simultaneous projects in target discovery, drug development, predictive biomarkers, and systems biology which are included within the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. The complementary aims of these four (4) projects were designed to integrate with one another seamlessly, fostering data sharing and knowledge transfer, and ensuring that the overall effort continues to move forward. Moreover, the Defeat GBM construct will allow the teams to advance research from basic discovery science, all the way through to pre-clinical drug development and clinical trial design to deliver targeted therapies to patients to achieve our goal of doubling the five-year survival rate in just five years.

Defeat GBM Scientific Meeting Group: N. Paul TonThat, Dr. Paul Mischel, Dr. Wenbin Li, Dr. W. K. Alfred Yung, Carrie Treadwell, Dr. Ingo Mellinghoff, Dr. Webster Cavenee, Dr. Sujuan Ba, Dr. Otmar Wiestler, Dr. John DeGroot, Dr. Fred Lang, Scott Memmott, Catherine Stace, Matt Kapp, Michael Nathanson, Dr. Frank Furnari, Kevin Courtney. Not pictured: Dr. Anna Barker, Dr. Tim CloughesyAs I reflect on these meetings, I was most pleased by the level of integration the Defeat GBM researchers and advisors had developed since the formation of the Initiative. The depth of interaction among these individuals reflected a true partnership, and exemplified their committment toward a single goal. The nature of the collaboration created a palpable excitement in the room and a strong feeling that, individually we haven’t been able to defeat brain cancer, but together there great is hope we will.

I also was impressed by the global reach and international interest that Defeat GBM has garnered to date. Largely due to the efforts of Dr. Yung and Dr. Cavenee, we also hosted key, allied organizations from Australia, China, and Germany. These esteemed scientists and executives represent some of the world’s leading brain tumor research institutions, and we were thrilled to learn of their desire to explore ways to incorporate their own efforts into the Defeat GBM Initiative, as well as other opportunities for future collaboration. Their attendance and willingness to travel thousands of miles to join our U.S.-based project teams validated the importance of our current work and the structure of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. I left this meeting feeling extremely proud to represent this Community – and pleased to witness the dedicated efforts of our executive team, staff, and partners to create a platform where researchers from around the world can truly work together and provide real advances for brain tumor patients.

In closing, I am confident that the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative will continue to strengthen, serving as a catalyst for the international exchange of brain tumor ideas and collaboration, as well as a vehicle to advance the understanding of not only glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), but also other tumor types. I also am confident that the goal of our Defeat GBM Research Collaborative – to double the five-year survival rate for patients in just five years – is well within our reach.

Sincerest regards,

Michael J. Nathanson
Chair, Board of Directors
National Brain Tumor Society

National Brain Tumor Society is fiercely committed to finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for people living with a brain tumor today and anyone who will be diagnosed tomorrow. This means effecting change in the system at all levels.

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