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Award Celebrates CHOP Expert's Brain Tumor Research

Published on May 27, 2015 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 3 months ago


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At the 13th Annual Dream & Promise Gala, set to be held tonight in New York, the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation will honor The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, with the 2015 Fred J. Epstein, MD, Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award, which is named after the late Fred J. Epstein, MD, a pioneer in the field of pediatric neurosurgery, honors Dr. Curran’s work elucidating the molecular underpinnings of brain growth with an eye toward discovering novel treatments for pediatric brain tumors.

In particular, Dr. Curran’s work on medulloblastoma — the most common form of malignant brain tumor in children — led to the approval of the drug Erivedge (vismodegib). Approved to treat metastatic basal cell carcinoma, Erivedge is also being investigated as a treatment for a range of other cancers, from medulloblastoma to gliomas to colorectal cancer.

In addition to his position as Deputy Scientific Director of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, Dr. Curran is also a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Originally from Scotland, he received his PhD from London’s Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and University College before going on to a postdoc at the Salk Institute. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Dr. Curran also helps lead the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC). Founded with support from the CBTF, the CBTTC is a multi-institutional, collaborative research organization dedicated to the collection, annotation, and analysis of children’s brain tumors.

The CBTTC’s current work falls under four areas. Three projects are investigations of specific types of brain tumors — craniopharyngiomas, diffuse fibrillary astrocytomas, and ganglioglioma — while a fourth is focused on better understanding pediatric and adult gliomas. Much of the consortium’s work involves genomic sequencing, which is performed at Children’s Hospital in the BGI@CHOP sequencing facility.

“This award from the CBTF is a great honor, but it is really a recognition of the entire brain tumor team at the CBTTC — not just a single person,” said Dr. Curran. “Cooperation and sharing are the driving principles of the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium.”

To learn more about the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, see their website. For more information about brain tumor-related research at CHOP, see the CBTTC site or the Center for Childhood Cancer Research.