Yale Program in Brain Tumor Research

Supported by the Gregory M. Kiez and Mehmet Kutman Foundation

In 2011, the Gregory M. Kiez and Mehmet Kutman Foundation made a gift to Yale University to establish the Yale Program in Brain Tumor Research.

The Yale Program in Brain Tumor Research is focused on gaining a new and fundamental understanding of how brain tumors form in order to develop improved therapies. Researchers are exploring the genetic and molecular basis of brain tumors through a unique combination of the latest genetic and genomic technologies. 

The program is currently focused on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, accounting for 60% of all brain tumors diagnosed in the United States. Although treatment advances over the past few years have significantly increased survival time, on average patients live less than one year after diagnosis. 

GBM and other tumors are currently classified by examining cell types, but there are many differences at the molecular level that distinguish them. Led by Murat Gunel, MD, investigators are harnessing the power of newly developed genomic and genetic techniques to analyze thousands of tumor samples with the goal of unraveling their molecular landscape. 

This is allowing them to detect aberrant genes and molecular pathways that vary from patient to patient. Understanding the biology of GBM tumors will allow researchers to identify different tumor types so that they can develop targeted and individualized therapies based on a tumor’s characteristics. 

New classifications of GBM are already guiding the development of more personalized approaches to treatment, helping doctors prescribe more effective “cocktails” of drugs based on a tumor’s genetic makeup. In addition to opening the door to more rational treatment approaches using approved drugs, a complete catalog of the mutations present in brain tumors has broader implications as well. Understanding the pathways critical to the formation and proliferation of tumors could lead to the development of new drugs, setting the stage for life-saving targeted therapies. 

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