University of Colorado Cancer Center physicians join exclusive group

The pediatric neuro-oncology program at Children’s Hospital Colorado has been invited to join an exclusive group of physician/scientists dedicated to finding more effective, less toxic therapies for children with central nervous system tumors of the brain and spine.

Dr. Kathleen Dorris and Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar

Dr. Kathleen Dorris and Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC) is a national research cooperative made up of twelve institutions. University of Colorado Cancer Center members Rajeev Vibhakar, MD. PhD, MPH and Kathleen Dorris, MD, will lead efforts at Children’s Colorado.

“This is a big accomplishment,” says Vibhakar, who heads up pediatric neuro-oncology at Children’s Colorado and also is an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus.  “Becoming a part of this consortium legitimizes the progress that we have made nationally and internationally in the last five or six years.”

Dorris, an assistant professor in pediatrics at CU School of Medicine, will be the principal investigator at CU Cancer Center. She cites several factors in the successful PBTC application including the combination of skilled clinical care and expertise in experimental therapies, robust clinical research infrastructure, a strong basic science/translational research program, and a large and varied patient population.

“Geography also was one of the major elements in our proposal submission,” says Dorris. “There are consortium members in California and Texas but nothing in between. We draw patients from seven states in the Rocky Mountain region and this membership will allow us to increase the availability of clinical trials to these patients.”

Dorris also points to the accomplished multi-disciplinary team in the pediatric neuro-oncology program which is part of the nationally recognized Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Colorado. The team is comprised of seven physicians, two nurse practitioners, three primary nurses, and a social worker. Not to mention the four pediatric neurosurgeons, a pediatric radiation oncologist, a pediatric neuropsychologist and specialists in endocrinology, ophthalmology and rehabilitation. Accomplished CU Cancer Center researchers in the laboratory also will be part of the effort by taking discoveries from the lab into the clinic, in some cases for the first time anywhere.

“We are excited that we will be offering kids and their families more therapy options,” says Dorris. “The PBTC focus is on drugs that are biologically relevant to pediatric CNS tumors. The more access our patients have, the more meaningful studies we can conduct.”

Children’s Colorado becomes part of the consortium on April 1, 2017. Vibhakar says the neuro-oncology team already has four trials ready for submission.

“We will be investigating new, experimental drugs that have not been tested in children,” says Vibhakar. “Like every member of the consortium, we are committed to these kids and their families. We want to find better, less toxic treatments and novel drug combinations faster and more efficiently.”

Click here to see the other members of Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium.

About the author: Erika Matich

Erika Matich is the communications manager for the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Contact her at Erika.Matich [at] ucdenver.edu.

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