Pediatric Brain Tumor Research

Our multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists develops and participates in innovative research to offer new treatments, improve the standard of care and increase knowledge about the biology of brain and spinal cord tumors. Research is a central component to our center’s mission. Our efforts are focused on clinical trials, basic and translational research, and quality of life and patient outcomes research. 

Clinical Trials

We offer more than 25 active clinical trials for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors, at diagnosis and at the time of recurrence. These include both local and national trials — many of which are developed and directed by Lurie Children’s specialists. We offer various trials for treatment of all pediatric central nervous system diagnoses, ranging from Phase I-III trials. We collaborate with partner organizations to provide additional access to clinical trials, including:

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Basic & Translational Research

In the last several years, we have made great progress in our efforts to understand the biology of brain and spinal cord tumors. We participate in numerous studies to understand the molecular biomarkers of tumors. Many of these trials are centered at Lurie Children’s and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. While these studies do not affect treatments at this time, they advance the scientific field of pediatric neuro-oncology and build the foundation for treatment-related advancements in the future.

Major concepts of our basic and translational research include:

  • Molecular biology to understand behavior of tumors
  • Biomarker studies to determine if we can monitor response to treatment using blood and spinal fluid
  • Partnering with Northwestern University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology to identify novel ways to deliver therapies to tumors in the brain
  • Understanding ways to use to the immune system to treat pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors

Quality of Life & Patient Outcomes Research

Our goal is to optimize treatments for our patients and learn how current treatments affect each patient’s quality of life. We collaborate with the Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine on this research initiative. We assess and monitor quality of life during and throughout treatment, including patients that are undergoing radiation therapy. We are also participating in a nutrition study to understand how nutrition is affected by treatment.