CERN-funded research and NBTS advocacy culminates in $6M in government funding to develop treatments targeting fusion found in 70% of supratentorial ependymomas
Dr. Holland and Dr. Gilbertson are teaming up yet again — this time equipped with a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called a “U54,” as well as even more expert collaborators. Unlike its smaller, traditional cousin, the R01 (the standard NIH grant mechanism), U54 grants provide major funding to foster multidisciplinary and collaborative research. Their U54 will provide Drs. Holland and Gilbertson $6 million for a “full range of research and development” activities to identify drugs that can target the functions of the RELA-C110rf95 gene fusion.
The availability of the U54
grant, itself, is the result of the advocacy efforts of the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) and others who helped launch then-Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” in 2016. NBTS’s chief executive officer, David Arons, served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel of experts that advised and made recommendations for the Moonshot’s implementation and Danielle Leach, NBTS chief of community and government relations, served on the Moonshot’s pediatric working group. One such recommendation was for an initiative to “Intensify Research on the Major Drivers of Childhood Cancers
.” It was through this initiative that the NIH and National Cancer Institute developed a “Fusion Oncoproteins in Childhood Cancers” consortium and made the U54 grants available. Drs. Holland and Gilbertson and their team are the only group focusing on pediatric brain tumors to receive funding within this consortium
. Congress has continued to fully fund the Moonshot and its projects each year since its inception, thanks in large part to the ongoing advocacy work of NBTS and other groups, including CERN Foundation volunteers who join with NBTS at the annual Head to the Hill
advocacy day each year.
This is a remarkable stride for the brain tumor community, demonstrating the importance of private philanthropy, public policy advocacy, government research funding, and team science converging to create a major opportunity for brain tumor researchers and paving the way for new treatment possibilities in the future.