Funding Opportunities: 21st Century Science Initiative

Brain Cancer Research: Overview


The Brain Cancer Research program (1998-2012) has been discontinued.




Despite some recent cause for optimism for advancing the clinical treatment of brain cancers, for many patients brain tumor remains a devastating diagnosis. Progress against this disease has been stymied by limited understandings of the molecular, metabolic, and physiological characteristics of human brain cancers across multiple temporal and spatial scales and by the failure of many preclinical models to predict patient responses.

Experimentally promising bio-molecular therapies often fail to achieve clinic efficacy because preclinical experimental models fail to mimic the real-world clinical needs of patients. Brain cancer survival statistics for the deadliest of tumors such as GBMs have minimally improved over the past two decades and the clinical armamentarium is, to a large extent, still dependent on surgery and radiation therapy – treatments known to leave survivors with devastating cognitive deficits.

All proposals submitted to the foundation must clearly link the experimental models and questions to the realities of human disease. Proposals primarily intending to characterize basic mechanisms of growth and development that may plausibly but are not yet known to be contributory to human brain cancer are not encouraged. Proposals testing molecules as possible treatment interventions should consider including tests designed to uncover unintended biological effects of such molecules that would disqualify future clinical usefulness.  Research with in vitro or in vivo model systems must demonstrate that the model has predictive value for human tumors.

The Foundation is particularly interested in supporting novel research that will generate new knowledge leading to increased rates of survival and improve functional recovery for individuals with brain cancer. In prior years, the foundation has funded about 6 or fewer research applications. Keeping true to the Foundation’s mission, we ask that you refrain from submitting proposals better suited to programs at NINDS or NCI.

Support awarded through the 21st Century Science Initiative is intended to encourage new ideas and approaches, early in their development, that are unlikely to be funded from traditional sources. Proposals from junior faculty and from individuals with strong neuroscience, genetics, mathematics, molecular pathology, and tumor immunology backgrounds, interested in pursuing novel research on brain cancer, are encouraged.