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SNO-ing: Gathering at the 4th Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology

The Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO), the preeminent trade organization for those working in the brain tumor arena, seeks to advance the field through research and education.

SNO hosts an annual multi-day meeting that is ‘must-go’ for brain cancer researchers, clinicians, surgeons, patient advocacy organizations, and biopharma industry executives (for which we are proud to continue our support as Platinum sponsors). The conference is a great opportunity for many of our staff here at the National Brain Tumor Society to meet with our colleagues, learn about the latest advances and research, and build and foster relationships.

This year’s 4th Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology, hosted in conjunction with the SNO Scientific Meeting and Education Day (Nov. 21 – 24), just concluded and the National Brain Tumor Society contingent has returned from an intense and exciting week of meetings with a wealth of new knowledge and connections.

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NBTS CEO, Paul TonThat with IBTA Chair, Denis Strangman of Australia and IBTA Co-Director, Kathy Oliver of the UK.

For a few of us the week began Monday, as we joined over 60 representatives of various brain tumor organizations from 20 different countries at the International Brain Tumor Alliance’s First World Summit of Patient Advocates. It was a unique chance to share experiences, challenges, and best practices on how to deliver more impact for the brain tumor community across the globe, while building new relationships with groups from the UK to Australia and New Zealand. We are grateful for this broadened dialog and excited about the potential to further collaborate.

Thursday was the start of the main event with SNO’s annual Education Day. Our extended group of staff now joined the more than 2,000 neuro-onologists, neurosurgeons, biopharma industry, and government officials who descended on San Francisco turning the City by the Bay into the hub of brain tumor research for the four-day span.

Our own David Arons, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, organized a seminal workshop with co-sponsors Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, SNO, and The Gray Matters Foundation. For this session – Key Issues in Pediatric Brain Tumor Research and Drug Development: Availability of Drugs for Pediatric Brain Tumor and Pediatric Cancer Research – we brought together leaders from government, pharmaceutical, patient advocacy organizations, and medical academia to discuss the real and perceived challenges to improving access to drugs for pediatric brain tumor and pediatric cancer research, with the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers and creating real progress. We are thankful to all who took the time to participate in the meeting, and especially those who helped with the planning, including our moderator Dr. Mark Gilbert (MD Anderson Cancer Center) and workshop Co-chairs Drs. Peter Adamson (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and Maryam Fouladi (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center).

NBTS CEO Paul TonThat (left) with Dr. Al Yung (center) and NBTS Senior Director of Research, Carrie Treadwell (right) after Dr. Yung received the SNO Community Service Award

The Education Day ended with an insightful initial planning discussion with research advisors for our new Pediatric High Grade Glioma Initiative. Joining us to kickoff the preliminary discussion were Drs. Suzanne Baker (St. Jude’s), Joe Megyesi (Western University), Roger Packer (Children’s National Medical Center), Stefan Pfister (German Cancer Research Center), Ian Pollack (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute), and W.K. Alfred Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center), along with Carl Cadogan, CEO of the Brain Tumor Foundation on Canada.

The ensuing days had no shortage of great meetings, presentations, and discussions about the state and future directions of the field, and how we can speed the pace of discoveries of new treatments and improve patients’ lives. Some of the many highlights for our team, specifically, included:

  • A special presentation to award our long-time strategic advisor and Defeat GBM Scientific Director, Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung, with the prestigious SNO Public Service Award. Congratulations Dr. Yung!
  • A terrific lunch with our Defeat GBM principal investigators, hosted by Dr. Yung, to mark the beginning of their work together. We were honored to be joined by SNO President, Dr. Ken Aldape (MD Anderson Cancer Center).

Highlights from the larger program included:

  • A presentation on the seminal work funded by Cancer Research UK and The Brain Tumor Charity UK on evolutionary biology as applied to GBM (“An integrated genomic analysis of individual patients with glioblastoma reveals previously unrecognized levels of intra-tumour heterogeneity that reflects cancer evolutionary dynamics”).
  • The presentation of the National Brain Tumor Society-sponsored SNO pediatric translational research award recognizing Dr. Marcel Kool’s (German Cancer Research Center) impactful paper (“Genome Sequencing of SHH medulloblastoma predicts age-dependent response to smoothened-inhibition and rational therapeutic combinations”) on important progress in medulloblastoma research that looked at the most appropriate therapies by age. Congratulations Dr. Kool!
  • The Town Hall meeting with the neuro-oncology community discussing phase III trials with Avastin and Cilengitide.

The Annual SNO Meeting has significantly grown in size and importance. Through the convening of attendees from across the country and around the world, it allows us to not only hear the latest in brain tumor science, but to also have many productive meetings and individual discussions with advisors, biopharma industry representatives, and other patient advocacy groups to help to advance our programmatic agenda and mission efficiently and effectively. We are proud to support the work of this critical organization.

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