2015 Annual CERN Meeting

— Categories: Press Release     Posted on December 10, 2015

The CERN Foundation held a productive meeting on November 20, 2015 at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, TX. Thirty investigators from across the CERN network participated in a lively yet informal sharing of information on a broad range of ependymoma topics.

The meeting was held concurrently with the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO).

Key members of the CERN Foundation leadership provided updates on CERN’s ongoing awareness and outreach work, the clinical trials efforts as well as status reports on CERN’s outcomes research projects.

CERN President Kim Wallgren opened the meeting with an overview of the outreach activities of the Foundation, highlighting that there continues to be excellent interactions with the ependymoma patient and family communities both on the individual and group level. CERN continues to help patients find expert opinions and care and the level of interest in CERN from the group was unanimously positive.

Dr. Mark Gilbert, CERN Foundation Advisor, discussed the changes in the Adult Clinical Trial efforts in ependymoma. He described the transition of these efforts to the NIH and that adult ependymoma studies will be done under the newly formed Rare CNS Cancer Initiative. This program will provide the infrastructure to run clinical trials, including multi-center studies, using the clinical trial resources of the NCI. Furthermore, this will allow for IND (investigational new drug) studies to be run with a minimum financial cost. Laboratory studies can also be done either in the developing Neuro-Oncology Branch laboratories or at a reduced cost using NCI facilities. The CERN outreach team will play an active role in supporting accrual to these adult studies.

Dr. Amar Gajjar, Pediatric Clinical Trial Leader, described the ongoing pediatric clinical trial landscape in ependymoma. He emphasized that there are accrual challenges and difficulties in getting studies open quickly through the current cooperative group mechanisms. Amar described that there is continuing collaborations in drug discovery with Dr. Richard Gilbertson’s now transplanted group back to the United Kingdom.

Dr. Michael Taylor presented a brief overview of the recent international ependymoma consensus conference in Toronto. Michael reported that there were great discussions of the recent laboratory discoveries and in-depth conversations about the implementation of new diagnostic criteria for supratentorial ependymoma and the challenges for the posterior fossa tumors.

Dr. Terri Armstrong, CERN Advisor, reviewed CERN’s outcomes efforts focusing on both the Adult Ependymoma Outcomes Project and the Pediatric Ependymoma Outcomes Project. Terri reviewed the current status of both efforts and described plans for continuing this important work in the year ahead. Terri also drew attention to the CERN supported researchers presenting during the SNO Meeting, including Dr. Eugene Hwang (Self and Proxy-reported Clinical Outcomes Assessments in a Large Cohort of Children with Ependymoma) and Alvina Acquaye (The Adult Ependymoma Outcomes Project).

Terri also shared news of two important collaborations for 2016. First, with the support of the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation, a second edition of CERN’s well-received Ependymoma Guide will be published and distributed early next year.  Second, the annual Ependymoma Butterfly Release will take place as part of the National Brain Tumor Society’s Head for the Hill campaign scheduled for May in Washington, DC. Details on this exciting event will be posted on CERN’s website in the coming weeks.

Dr. Gilbert completed the meeting by announcing that Vijay Ramaswamy, PhD, has been selected as the first CERN Basic Science Ependymoma Research Fellow. Vijay will be working in Michael Taylor’s lab at the University of Toronto with the goal of advancing the science of ependymoma.  Mark thanked the Scientific Advisory Board for their efforts in reviewing the applications and commented that the submitted proposals were of a uniformly high-quality.

The CERN annual meeting was very successful in strengthening existing personal research connections and collaborations, generating new associations and presenting the Foundation’s members with updates on a range of topics important to ependymoma research.

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