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Armed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, Chief of Neurosurgery Peter Black, MD, PhD, and Attending Neurosurgeon Elizabeth Claus, MD, PhD, recently launched two groundbreaking studies on the development of primary brain tumors. The five-year, $9.5 million grant from the NIH will represent the first large-scale national effort to study risk factors and quality of life for meningioma.
With one study, Claus and Black are leading the first large-scale, national effort to examine environmental, genetic, and clinical risk factors for meningioma, a tumor that develops from the meninges and is the most common type of primary brain tumor.
Right now, evidence points to hormones and radiation exposure as the two risk factors for meningioma, Claus said. “However, even these factors remain largely unexplored.”
In an effort to learn more about the risk factors, researchers will study about 1,600 people newly diagnosed with meningioma and 1,600 people without that diagnosis from five states.
In a second study, Claus and Black are collaborating with members of Gliogene, an international consortium of researchers that aims to identify genes associated with the development of primary brain tumors called gliomas. Researchers will screen thousands of patients with glioma to identify families with two or more relatives with a brain tumor.
“As the number of families with such a diagnosis is rare, a collaboration of this sort is absolutely essential to the success of the project,” Black said.
Additional investigators for these studies include Melissa Bondy, PhD, at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Joseph Wiemels, PhD, and Margaret Wrensch, PhD, of the University of California at San Francisco; and Joellen Schildkraut, PhD, at Duke University.