Nation's leading experts join forces to accelerate effective treatments for brain tumors

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The nation's leading brain tumor and biotech industry experts again joined forces Friday, June 7, in a bid to accelerate more effective treatments for brain tumors and promote funding for the latest emerging therapies, as the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center and Voices Against Brain Cancer hosted its second annual Brain Tumor Biotech Summit.

"Regardless of our backgrounds, our shared vision and purpose today was to bridge the gap between basic and clinical science," says Dr. John Boockvar, chair of the Summit, director of the Brain Tumor Research Group, professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and a neurosurgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "It often takes decades to realize discoveries from bench to bedside when it needs to be a few years. This dynamic meeting advanced collaborations vital to accelerating the translation of new scientific findings into novel therapeutics that can be delivered rapidly to our patients."

More than 23,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with brain or spinal tumors this year and more than 14,000 patients will succumb to their disease, according to the American Cancer Society. With the patient median survival rate of 15 months, there is a crucial need to identify more effective treatments for brain tumors that will not only extend life, but also lead to potential cures.

"Brain cancer touches the lives of thousands of families a year, and it is incumbent upon us to devise novel treatments and therapeutics that will better target malignant tumors and enhance human health," adds Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research and professor of cancer biology in medicine at Weill Cornell and director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "However, as federal funding for research has plummeted -- hastened under sequestration -- it is become more important than ever for brain tumor researchers to supplement their government grants with private funding to advance their research."

Industry leaders from the biotech industry, venture capital firms, finance, non-profit foundations and pharmaceutical companies participated in the Brain Tumor Biotech Summit discussions regarding ways to get new research findings noticed and funded. Top brain tumor researchers from across the country presented their latest advances in vaccine treatments, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, angiogenesis, gene therapy, targeted therapeutics, novel medical devices and a host of other topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of human cancer.

"The Brain Tumor Biotech Summit is the only place that interfaces scientists, clinicians, financial investors and the biotech industry. I know of no other place that brings those four groups together," says Franklin Berger, a leading biotech industry expert and moderator of the "VC Roundtable: How to Get Your Research or Company Noticed? Lessons from the Investment Experts" panel discussion at the Summit. "That's critical because the cost and time required to get a therapy across the finish line, from thought to vial, is longer and more complex than ever."

The Summit also represents a new way to engage academia, industry and investors in collaborative research. Not only are experts at Weill Cornell adopting the approach for other key areas of neurosurgery, including concussion, spinal cord injury and stroke, but other institutions are also replicating the format to spur research within their own facilities.

"The Summit is an amalgamation of thought leaders in the areas of science, industry and venture capital who collectively have already expanded the boundaries in brain tumor research, leading to novel ideas and new clinical trials. This year's Summit forged new, game-changing relationships, and I'm excited to see the advancements in brain tumor treatments that will be catalyzed as a result," says Dr. Philip E. Stieg, professor and chairman of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and neurosurgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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