By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer of Science & Technology
When a patient is informed of a brain tumor, the experience is frightening.
“When anyone finds out they have a brain tumor. It is super scary,” described neurosurgeon and scientist Dr. Albert Kim, MD, PhD, the inaugural director of the new Brain Tumor Center at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. “And so we have to take care of these people. I don’t want them to be worrying about ‘what is going to happen to me if I have this brain tumor.’ And so what will happen is they will rapidly see us in a multidisciplinary way.”
The new Brain Tumor Center is combining efforts in the lab with efforts in the clinic to provide transformative research and patient care.
“The real idea is to make a clinical pipeline from the very basic discoveries in a Petri dish or in a lab bench and to really bring that to patients through clinical trials. That’s what we’re hoping to do with this research center, to bring something literally from the bench to the bedside of a patient,” said Kim.
Kim says the center has more than 100 scientists and clinicians in different areas of the medical campus dedicated to benign and malignant tumors. The Brain Tumor Center will be part of the 11-story neuroscience research building now under construction on the Washington University Medical Campus at Duncan and Newstead avenues. This is the largest project in School of Medicine history.
The Brain Tumor Center will have 10 core research groups inside the Neuroscience Research Building, which will be the basic science arm of brain tumor research. The Brain Tumor Center will bring the groups together on one floor of the new building, taking up half of a full floor. Kim says having the investigators together in the neuroscience research building among other neuroscience research groups, creates synergy.
“Having different people together, they all have their individual research programs and collaborators, but now you have them interacting in the same space,” described Kim. “I would imagine literally passing each other. That would lead to discussions and new ideas about therapies.”
The center comprises experts from the School of Medicine’s neurosurgery, medicine (in the Division of Oncology) and radiation oncology departments, as well as others in pathology & immunology, otolaryngology, neurology, radiology and endocrinology. Pediatric experts affiliated with Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital also will work with colleagues in the Brain Tumor Center.
The Brain Tumor Center’s comprehensive approach to research is delivering groundbreaking results. Kim says the new Brain Tumor Center is also creating synergy among clinicians.
“I essentially see the patient. I walked into the common area where we’re looking at all the records, putting in notes, and there’s the medical oncologist and radiation oncologist. And I can ask them right away,” said Kim. “That person will also be seeing the patient right after me and in some cases at the same time. And so we really have this package multidisciplinary approach. It’s better for the patient because they can get answers right away, a final recommendation right away. And you know, it makes it much more streamlined for us as clinicians. And so everybody wins.”