Shared resource cores

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Four Shared Resource Cores support the administrative, laboratory, and clinical research efforts of the UCLA SPORE in Brain Cancer Research Projects, Career Enhancement Projects, and Developmental Research Projects.

Core 1

The Biospecimen and Pathology Core (BiPC), a biorepository and multifaceted research resource, provides critical support for the translational and diagnostic/therapeutic studies of the four major UCLA SPORE in Brain Cancer projects, which are directed at understanding glioblastoma biology and developing novel therapeutic approaches for brain cancer.

Key members include Dr. Harley Kornblum, a brain tumor stem cell researcher, and Dr. David Nathanson, an expert on the biology of gliomas who developed the novel animal model system used by this core to facilitate the study of brain tumors. The BiPC also includes 24/7 on-call neuropathologists and technicians for tumor procurement.  The core provide histopathology, immunohistochemistry, digital imaging, and data collation support as well.

The BiPC’s aims are: 

  1. To optimally collect, store, and distribute high-quality brain tumor biospecimens and their detailed clinical and molecular annotations
  2. Centrally create, molecularly characterize, and provide human biospecimen derivatives and sGluc-GFP reporter patient-derived orthotopic xenografts (PDOX) to support SPORE projects

Core 2

The extremely poor prognosis and lack of effective treatments for glioblastoma (GBM) remains a significant public health issue. While traditional MRI techniques are valuable in determining GBM response to common anti-neoplastic therapies, novel treatments including immunotherapies, anti-angiogenic agents, or therapies that alter tumor metabolism may result in radiographic changes that are challenging to differentiate from non- responsive or growing tumor. Therefore, the primary goal of the Neuro-Imaging Core (NIC) will be to provide advanced MRI and PET imaging support with established reliability and consistency to SPORE project investigators for their respective projects.

Specifically, the NIC will use quantitative mMRI and mPET for pre- clinical imaging (Aim 1) and state-of-the-art MR and PET imaging acquisition, advanced post-processing, and novel analysis tools for clinical imaging of patients in novel clinical trials (Aim 2). Hence, this Core will add value to the overall SPORE by helping investigators to better understand the in situ metabolic, physiologic, and traditional radiographic changes within the brain and tumor in order to address specific objectives of each of the UCLA Brain Cancer SPORE projects. Another main goal of the NIC is to understand the link between metabolic and/or physiologic imaging and tumor biology in order to reliably delineate treatment response versus recurrent tumor (Aim 3), which in turn will facilitate the direct translation of new MR-PET companion biomarkers/techniques to the clinic for the evaluation of treatment response in ongoing and new therapeutic clinical trials resulting from the SPORE projects and cores.

Core 3

The general purpose of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core (Core 3), is to provide comprehensive support in the areas of biostatistics and bioinformatics for all research projects, developmental and career development programs, and other cores of the UCLA Brain SPORE. Core 3 comprises multiple faculty members from the departments of Biostatistics, Biomathematics, and Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, and staff statisticians and bioinformaticians.

Faculty members include nationally respected biostatisticians and bioinformaticians with broad expertise from general biostatistics, design and analysis of clinical trials, to analysis and interpretation of high-dimensional tissue arrays and gene expression data that are needed by the SPORE research projects. Collectively and individually, the members have participated in hundreds of studies involving diverse aspects of cancer research especially translational research. They have experience working in large centers and have served on NIH study sections and review committees.

The Core’s biostatistics/bioinformatics faculty and staff are actively involved in UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) current projects and have an established history of productive collaborations with the SPORE investigators. Core 3 has been working closely with the Brain SPORE investigators to provide support on study design, statistical analysis, and bioinformatics analysis.

Areas of support include:

  • General biostatistics, design and analysis of clinical trials
  • Collaboration on experimental designs
  • Bioinformatics analyses including transcriptomes, exomes, and DNA Methylation analysis
  • Collaboration on data management support
  • Collaboration on manuscript preparation and presentation and interpretation of study results
  • Collaboration on new grant applications
  • Advice and consultation to the JCCC Internal Scientific Review Committee in the scientific reviews of clinical trials
  • Advice and consultation to the JCCC Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for clinical trials
  • Education for SPORE members in study design, data collection, and statistical methods for basic science, translational, and clinical studies

Core 4

The Administrative Core is responsible for the oversight and daily functions of the SPORE. It provides organizational leadership and administrative support for all of the aspects of the SPORE in order to ensure the overall successful conduct of the program.

This Core oversees scientific management, including ongoing management and scientific review of all projects and cores to ensure that the stated scientific goals of the SPORE are met. It will organize regularly scheduled meetings and seminars, schedule and organize the annual UCLA Brain Cancer SPORE Symposium, and oversee the administration of the SPORE Developmental Research and Career Enhancement Programs. It will be the liaison between the SPORE and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, other UCLA academic and administrative bodies, NIH/NCI staff, IAB/EAB members, and patient advocacy groups. It will ensure that appropriate regulatory approvals are maintained and will complete necessary documentation with regulatory agencies.

The Administrative Core will also ensure that data and resources are shared appropriately in order to promote intra- and inter-SPORE collaboration, as well as collaborations with other groups and investigators that can help further cutting-edge brain cancer research.