The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University has been awarded a new, five-year $11.5 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant to advance translational research and improve outcomes for patients with brain cancer.
The SPORE, a highly competitive award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), makes the Lurie Cancer Center one of just six brain tumor programs nationwide to receive this designation and recognizes Northwestern as a premier institution for innovative, translational research. SPORE grants fund interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects in specific cancer types and are intended to rapidly move research discoveries from the laboratory into the clinic.
The Lurie Cancer Center’s Brain Tumor SPORE will be focused on improving treatment for patients with glioblastoma, the most common and deadly type of brain tumor, with a median survival of just 15 months.
Dr. Maciej (Matt) Lesniak, chair of neurological surgery and the Michael J. Marchese professor of neurosurgery, and Dr. C. David James, vice chair for research in the department of neurological Surgery and the Jean Malnati Miller Professor of Brain Tumor Research, will lead the SPORE.
“The SPORE mechanism recognizes outstanding translational work in the field of cancer; in our case, brain cancer. We have gathered together leading investigators and clinicians in the world and are very fortunate to rank among the most prominent neuro-oncology programs in the country, allowing patients in Chicago and around the country access to novel and cutting-edge therapy for malignant brain cancer,” said Dr. Lesniak, also program leader for neuro-oncology at the Lurie Cancer Center.
The SPORE designation is the second for the Lurie Cancer Center. In 2015, the center received a renewed $11.3 million grant for its continued leadership of a SPORE in prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer SPORE, first received in 2001, is one of only eight in the country.
The brain cancer SPORE will take a team science approach, bringing together basic scientists, neuro-oncologists and neurosurgeons for interdisciplinary research designed to identify novel therapies for glioblastoma.
“We have a critical mass of investigators in our brain tumor community who are uniquely focused on a specific brain cancer. Very few institutions in the country can match our depth and breadth of expertise,” said Dr. James, also director of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Developmental Therapeutics Core and the scientific director of The Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.