Brain & Spinal Cord Cancers

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Participate in a Study

Clinical research studies (also called clinical trials) are designed to answer questions about new treatments that may improve outcomes. In the case of brain and spinal cord cancers, we conduct clinical research studies to learn whether new types of treatment may improve quality of life and may best control the cancer.

“At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the University of Washington, we are dedicated to the discovery of new ways of treating brain and spinal cord cancers. We strive to offer a large menu of research treatment options for patients with primary cancers as well as metastatic cancer to the brain or spinal cord.” - Dr. Marc Chamberlain, Neuro-Oncologist

Doctors are actively exploring new surgical techniques, better methods of surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. New targeted agents are being developed that interfere with signals within the cancer cell that drive cell division or cell invasion. Since cancers cannot grow without a supply of nutrients and oxygen from blood circulation, new drugs are being developed to interfere with the blood supply of a cancer. This approach is called anti-angiogenesis.

With all drugs there are side effects that may occur. Some of these side effects can be serious or even life threatening. The National Cancer Institute in collaboration with many cancer centers nationwide is aggressively testing new drugs with hopefully greater benefits and fewer side effects. Also, lots of research has been done to better understand the genetic abnormalities and molecular changes that are responsible for the development of cancers in the brain and spinal cord.

In addition to research studies that treat cancers we have strong basic science and imaging research programs in Neuro-Oncology at the University of Washington.  These programs bring together scientists from a variety of backgrounds including molecular genetics, cancer biology, bioinformatics, neuroscience, neurosurgery, and neuro-oncology.  These research programs are dedicated to understanding more about the underlying mechanisms of cancer and treatment responsiveness.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Fereshteh Assadian 288-6693 on the Neuro-Oncology research staff.

Research Labs Related to Brain and Spinal Cord Cancers

In addition to research studies that treat cancers, we have strong basic science and imaging research programs in Neuro-Oncology at the University of Washington. These programs bring together scientists from a variety of backgrounds including molecular genetics, cancer biology, bioinformatics, neuroscience, neurosurgery, and neuro-oncology and are dedicated to understanding more about the underlying mechanisms of cancer and treatment responsiveness.

Kenneth Maravilla, MD
Dr. Maravilla's 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research laboratory focuses on basic and human research exploring MRI and MRI spectroscopy for evaluating a number of brain diseases such as brain tumors and multiple sclerosis, various developmental diseases, and basic mechanisms of brain function using functional MRI techniques. 

Richard S. Morrison, PhD  
Dr. Morrison’s lab studies the mechanism of cell death and the molecular changes of brain tumors involved in malignant transformations.

Robert Rostomily, MD
Dr. Rostomily’s lab focuses on the molecular regulation of the formation of glial cells. In addition, they are studying the molecular basis of skull based tumors that could lead to new treatment options.

John Silber, PhD
Dr. Silber's laboratory is pursuing methods to optimize the effectiveness of contemporary treatments by characterizing the mechanisms that promote tumor cell death and by identifying resistance mechanisms that limit killing. Another goal of the laboratory is to develop tumor markers that predict response to therapy in order to direct patients to the most effective treatment while sparing them unnecessary side effects.

Kristin Swanson, PhD
Dr. Swanson's lab specializes in the mathematical modeling of pathological biosystems. She is working on several projects utilizing advanced imaging techniques such as MRI and PET to predict the growth patterns of brain tumors.