Lab Update: November 2016

There’s an old adage that says if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Research science rarely adheres to that—investigators spend a lot of lonely hours peering into microscopes and scrolling through endless data points, all in the hope that someday all that solo work will add up to a breakthrough. We often go alone, and go far, but usually not fast.

The Children’s Brain Tumor Project has also defied that adage in that we are going fast, but together. This requires teamwork like no other—we need other labs at Weill Cornell, tissue banks around the country, and other scientists comparing notes and sharing findings—because we know we need to move quickly, and get far.

That’s what makes 2016 so gratifying to us. We made so much progress this year, from joining the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium to publishing half a dozen papers to successfully concluding our DIPG clinical trial. Our “summer sprint” laid the groundwork for future trials being planned right now. We’ve discovered new ways to measure tumor volumes and drug concentrations in brain stem tumors, which will be invaluable in those trials. And we have a partnership with our Precision Medicine Institute that allows us to examine every pediatric tumor we biopsy, not just for research but to actually match individual tumors with the most promising treatment options.

Obstacles remain, and there is still much to be done. The path before us is neither clear nor straight, but we have a dedicated team that allows us to navigate it together. Our team includes not just the researchers, technicians, and students who put in those long hours in the lab, but also the thousands of supporters who run the 5Ks, attend the galas, and buy the raffle tickets that provide funding for our work.

Some of our team’s most valued members are the families who know all too well the price of delay. They are the parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, and schoolmates of children diagnosed with brain tumors, and who take up this cause for intensely personal reasons. We are so grateful to them for their dedication to this cause, and to their thousands of supporters for their ongoing enthusiasm and loyalty. Know how much we count on your continued gifts to keep our research going. Together, we will go fast—and far.