Team Jack Attends International Conference on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology

Team Jack Foundation Founders, Andy & Brianna Hoffman, Executive Director, Kylie Dockter and UNMC's Dr. Jonathan Schwartz at the 2018 ISPNO in Denver, CO
The Team Jack Foundation supported this year's ISPNO as a booth exhibit sponsor. Pictured here are Founders, Andy & Brianna Hoffman and Executive Director, Kylie Dockter.

Team Jack Attends International Conference on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

On June 29-July 3, myself, Kylie Dockter, the Executive Director, and Founders, Andy & Brianna Hoffman, had the honor of attending the bi-annual ISPNO meeting which was held in Denver, Colorado. The International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO) is the major biennial global meeting of the multi-disciplinary international community of professionals involved in the scientific research, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation of infants, children and young people with Central Nervous System tumors.

This event is attended by neuro-oncologist, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologist, neurologist and many other leading decision-makers and researchers in the field of neuro-oncology. Approximately 1,500 of the world’s top scientist and medical professionals from 51 countries attended.

Throughout the symposium, attendees engaged in dialog regarding new treatments, innovative research and advances in pediatric neuro‐oncology. A lot of work was presented each day starting with sunrise sessions at 7:00 AM and ending with poster sessions and other networking events in the evening.

Highlights from the 2018 ISPNO:

  • Throughout the conference, leading researchers in the field present their findings and update on current projects. Team Jack had the privilege of listening to Dr. Nathan Robison presented on “A Phase 1 dose escalation trial of the MEK ½ inhibitory for MEK162 in children with low-grade gliomas”. This is a project that the Team Jack Foundation funded in 2014 ($300,000) and gave additional funding to in 2017 ($250,000). This clinical trial will allow for new therapy in children. Dr. Robison noted the following update: The main purpose of the phase I component of this study specifically is to determine the best dose of the experimental drug MEK162 and to find out whether the drug is safe in children. Phase I of the trial closed in September 2017, the last patient was enrolled in June 2017. The first patient for Phase II was enrolled in January 2018. Phase II will close at the end of the summer once all patients enrolled. The purpose of Phase II is to see if the tumor will shrink or stop growing, this is ongoing. Dr. Robison hopes to have results of Phase I at the end of 2018 and Phase II in 2020. Thus far, the trial outlook is offering a promising new drug therapy to treat children with brain tumors.  Learn more here.

  • In addition to the many research updates, there was also a non-profit collaborative which included a dynamic group of non-profits from all over the world who met in a three-hour session. During the collaborative, non-profits engaged in conversation about funding research as well as received updates about new programs available for non-profits. In addition, participants had the opportunity to speak with world-class researchers including, Dr. Stefan Pfister (German Cancer Research Center), Barbara Jones (Steve Hicks School of Social Work), Dr. Adam Resnick (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), Dr. Angela Waanders (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). These researchers answered many questions from non-profits. The Team Jack Foundation Board Chair, Andy Hoffman, asked an interesting question: what type of research should non-profits focus on—laboratory or clinical? The answer was very interesting and most of the panel agreed that non-profits should invest in projects they are most passionate about. In addition, they encouraged non-profits to fund pilot projects and projects that are not as supported by other agents. They also noted that it is okay to fund failures: failures tell us what does not work, you want to fail in the labs, not in the trials. In addition to the information about funding trials, it helped us at the Team Jack Foundation know what is important when soliciting grant applications as well as how to manage grants that are given. Overall, the session was very informational and interesting.

  • During the event, Team Jack had a booth where information about the Foundation as well as how to apply for grants from the Foundation was disbursed. This gave us the opportunity to meet many of those attending the scientific meetings. In addition, we had the honor of meeting other non-profits who all have the same goal: finding a cure for pediatric brain cancer. The trend of the conference was simple: collaboration. As non-profits and researchers, we do not exist to work against each other or compete, we exist to work together to be successful. It was enlightening to meet so many representatives from different places around the country and learn about their work and what they are funding.

  • Another highlight of the symposium was getting to meet UNMC’s newly hired pediatric neuro-oncologist, Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, who also attended the scientific meetings. In 2015, the Team Jack Foundation made a commitment to fund a $1.5 million brain tumor program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE. This was matched by the State of Nebraska for a $3 million program. Included in the appropriation are funds to support two additional pediatric cancer specialists, including a pediatric neuro-oncologist. The Team Jack Foundation was honored to meet Dr. Schwartz, Nebraska’s first and only pediatric neuro-oncologist at this year’s ISPNO conference.

Why is this conference important for foundations like Team Jack?  As mentioned above, collaboration is key when fighting this disease.  We cannot achieve our goals without the help of researchers, doctors and other non-profits.  This conference gives Team Jack a rare opportunity to meet with many researchers and other non-profits to discuss new ways to work together.  Also, this conference keeps our Foundation up to date with the latest scientific developments and to see where more funding is needed.  This conference is a place where all minds come together to find a cure.

In conclusion, this symposium, in my opinion, is one of the most beneficial and inspiring conferences we can go to in our field. The quality of the work being presented and the level of passion and dedication the researchers have about finding a cure was truly motivating. We at the Team Jack Foundation will look forward to attending the event again in the near future. The 19th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology will be held on June 21-June 24, 2020 in Karuizawa, Japan. Stay up to date with this event at www.ispno2018.com.

Check out these videos from the 2018 ISPNO:

Researchers Gather in Devner to Fight Last Incurable Pediatric Cancer | CBS Denver

Brain Tumor Experts Discuss Developments | 9News Denver

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