Strategic Scientific Advisory Council (SSAC)

A team of senior brain cancer experts acting as the Strategic Scientific Advisory Council (SSAC) will oversee the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative to ensure goal attainment and overall success. In addition, the Advisors will play a key role in attracting and evaluating additional GBM research projects taking place throughout the United States, as well as around the world. Additional projects will be evaluated on their scientific potential, as well as their ability to support the patient-centric and outcome-driven goals of Defeat GBM. With this lens, the Advisors will help to ensure that only the most promising science is funded and include:

Anna Barker, PhD

Arizona State University Anna Barker, PhD

Dr. Anna Barker was former Deputy Director for Strategic Scientific Initiatives at the National Cancer Institute. At the NCI, Barker developed a number of strategic programs focused on the development of knowledge networks that emphasized innovation, publicly available data, team science, and convergence of the biological and physical sciences. Some of the programs planned and developed under her leadership included: The Cancer Genome Atlas, co-developed with the National Human Genome Research Institute to identify all genomic and molecular changes in cancer; the Nanotechnology Alliance for Cancer, a network dedicated to developing and applying nanotechnologies; and the Physical Sciences Oncology Centers that connects physicists, mathematicians, engineers and cancer scientists dedicated to developing a fundamental understanding of cancer.

Dr. Barker completed her Ph.D. at the Ohio State University, where she trained in immunology and microbiology. Her research interests include experimental therapeutics, tumor immunology, and free-radical biochemistry in cancer etiology, prevention, and treatment.

Dr. Barker has a long history in the performance and management of biomedical research, technology transfer, development and product commercialization in the nonprofit and private sectors. Her research interests have been primarily in drug discovery, development, and immunotherapy development. Prior to entering the biotechnology sector, she was a senior executive at Battelle Memorial Institute.

In the private sector, she co-founded and served as the chief executive officer of a public biotechnology therapeutics development company, and subsequently founded and led a private company dedicated to the transfer and deployment of technologies to prevent and treat cancer. She has received a number of awards for her volunteer and philanthropic activities, including a fellowship in basic science from the American Association of Cancer Research.

Dr. Barker was a co-recipient of the 2009 National Brain Tumor Society Research Excellence Award for her work on the The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).

Mitchel S. Berger MD, FACS, FAANS

University of California, San Francisco Mitchel S. Berger MD, FACS, FAANS

Dr. Mitchel S. Berger, Chair of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, is a nationally recognized expert in treating brain and spinal cord tumors, as well as tumor-related epilepsy in adults and children. He is also a specialist in brain mapping techniques, used to identify areas of motor, sensory, and language function during surgery, and an expert in the use of the Gamma Knife for tumor treatment. He is co-Director of the Adult Brain Tumor Surgery Program, Director of the Brain Tumor Research Center, Director of the Center for Neurological Injury and Repair, and Director of the Adult Hydrocephalus and Shunt Program. Dr. Berger also practices in the Neuro-Oncology Program and the Radiosurgery Program.

Dr. Berger earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1975 and a medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1979. He completed an internship and residency at UCSF and was awarded a clinical fellowship in neuro-oncology by the American Cancer Society and a research fellowship with the Brain Tumor Research Center. He completed further fellowship training in neuro-oncology at UCSF and in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children of the University of Toronto, Canada. His professional activities include his election to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and his appointment to the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. Dr. Berger is board certified in neurosurgery.

His current research interests involve identifying molecular markers in gliomas as correlates of tumor progression and prognosis. This is done in conjunction with the Molecular Marker Core of the BTRC. Dr. Berger also works with Dr. Krys Bankiewicz to test small molecule inhibitors in brain tumors using the drug delivery technique convection enhanced delivery. In addition, he is a co-Investigator with Dr. John Park in UCSF’s Comprehensive Cancer Center to develop immunoliposome-directed targeted therapy for treating gliomas that express EGF receptors. Other collaborations include functional mapping localization of language pathways in the brain with Dr. Robert Knight and the Cognitive Neuroscience Graduate Program at UC Berkeley. Dr. Berger is currently the Principal Investigator of UCSF’s SPORE Brain Tumor Program, funded by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Darell D. Bigner, MD, PhD

Duke University Darell D. Bigner, MD, PhD

Darell D. Bigner, MD, PhD, started at Duke in 1963 as a medical student and has remained there for the past 41 years, with the exception of two years spent at the NIH (1968-70). He is the Edwin L. Jones, Jr. and Lucille Finch Jones Cancer Research Professor, Director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, and Director of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Institute at Duke. Dr. Bigner is also co-Program Leader of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Neuro-Oncology Program, Vice-Chairman of Investigative Pathology, Director of the Preuss Laboratory for Brain Tumor Research, former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuro-Oncology, and Chairman of the Scientific Review Board of the National Cancer Center, and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Most notably, Dr. Bigner co-founded the Brain Tumor Society’s research grant program in 1991 and served as Scientific Advisory Council Chair for 15 years.

Dr. Bigner is considered one of the leading authorities on brain tumors in the world. He has published more than 400 full-length manuscripts, books, chapters, and reviews, all on brain tumors. His research concerns the cause and improved diagnosis and treatment of malignant brain tumors in adults and children. His laboratory is the lead laboratory in Duke’s Neuro-Oncology Program, and the goals of his lab are to study basic mechanisms of neoplastic transformation and mechanisms of altered growth control in malignant brain tumors and tumors that metastasize to the brain and spinal cord. Monoclonal antibodies developed in Dr. Bigner’s laboratory are currently in clinical trials for patients with malignant brain tumors.

Dr. Bigner was awarded three consecutive MERIT awards by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The MERIT Award is a highly selective award presented by the National Institutes of Health that recognizes superior researchers who have demonstrated outstanding competence and productivity in research endeavors. MERIT Awards are given only to the top 1% of NCI investigators, and it is extremely rare for anyone to receive three consecutive MERIT awards.

Webster Cavenee, PhD

Ludwig Cancer Research Webster Cavenee, PhD

Dr. Webster Cavenee is a pioneer in our understanding of the role that hereditary predisposition plays into the development of cancer. In 1991 he became Director of Ludwig Cancer Research, San Diego and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Cavenee received his PhD with honors in 1977 from the University of Kansas Medical School and then did postdoctoral work at the Jackson Laboratory, MIT, and the University of Utah. He held faculty positions at the University of Cincinnati and McGill University.

Dr. Cavenee is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a past-President of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Fellow for the National Foundation for Cancer Research, and a Fellow of the International Union Against Cancer. He is on the editorial boards of several journals and has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, as well as numerous advisory boards for philanthropic foundations (including the National Brain Tumor Society and the Brain Tumor Funders Collaborative) and biotechnology companies.

His work on the genetic basis of cancer predisposition and progression comprises more than 300 publications and has been recognized with more than 80 honors and awards, most notably the Rhoads Award of AACR, the Charles S. Mott Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and the Albert Szent Gyorgyi Award. His work in GBM research, including with the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative earned him AACR’s 2014 Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in cancer research.

George D. Demetri, MD

Senior Vice President for Experimental Therapeutics George D. Demetri, MD

Dr. George D. Demetri is a Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts). Dr.Demetri is also the Director of Ludwig Cancer Research at Dana-Farber/Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Demetri received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard, and medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1983. He then went on to an internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He then completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the DFCI and Harvard Medical School, where he has served as an Attending Physician since 1989.

Dr. Demetri’s research and clinical interests have focused on the translation of scientific discoveries into targeted drugs for the management of sarcomas as a model for solid tumor research and development. This work has led to the development of the oral drug Gleevec as an effective treatment for the gastrointestinal sarcoma known as GIST, and is continuing with the research leading to the new multi-targeted agent SU11248 for GIST resistant to Gleevec.

A fellow of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Demetri is a member of many professional societies and editorial boards of scientific journals. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society, the chair of the Medical Advisory Board of the Sarcoma Alliance, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Sarcoma Foundation of America. He has been instrumental in raising awareness of issues relating to sarcoma research and care by his activities on the Internet, and he founded a non-profit educational site for sarcoma patients and their families.

He joins Defeat GBM as a clinical trial design expert that will help translate discoveries from the project into trials.

Richard B. Gaynor, MD

Eli Lilly and Company Richard B. Gaynor, MD

Richard B. Gaynor, MD, joined Eli Lilly and Company as Vice President for Cancer Research and Clinical Investigation in August 2002. Currently he is Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs in the Oncology Business Unit.

Dr. Gaynor received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Texas Tech University and then received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical School. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He completed a fellowship in hematology-oncology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine and then served on the faculty there. He received board certification in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology.

Prior to joining Eli Lilly, Dr. Gaynor was a Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, and held several leadership positions at the UTSW Medical Center in Dallas. He was Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at UTSW, and Director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center there, in addition to his work as the Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology. He has also served on numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) advisory committees and was elected to both the American Society of Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Gaynor is on the editorial board of several scientific journals and has an extensive publication record totaling more than 140 scientific articles. He serves on the board of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the Walther Cancer Institute, as well as on several committees for the American Association for Cancer Research and other leading cancer organizations.

William C. Hahn, MD, PhD

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer; Chief, Division of Molecular and Cellular Oncology William C. Hahn, MD, PhD

Dr. William C. Hahn is a medical oncologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), and a Senior Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He directs the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at DFCI. He is known for his cancer biology expertise and for his leadership role in the Broad Institute RNAi activities, where he serves as co-PI of the RNAi Consortium (TRC), and has led the Center’s efforts in discovering essential kinase in cancer using RNAi.

Dr. Hahn received his MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School in 1994. He then completed clinical training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and medical oncology at DFCI. He conducted his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute and joined the faculty of DFCI and Harvard Medical School in 2001. He became Board Certified in internal medicine in 1997, followed by medical oncology in 2000. Dr. Hahn completed his Fellowship at Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare and his Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Hahn has been the recipient of many honors and awards including a Harvard National Scholarship, a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships, a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award, the 2000 Wilson S. Stone Award from MD Anderson Cancer Center for outstanding research in cancer, a Kimmel Scholar Award, and the Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute. In 2005, Dr. Hahn was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

W. K. Alfred Yung, MD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center W. K. Alfred Yung, MD

Professor W.K. Alfred Yung, MD, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 1971, graduating summa cum laude. For his medical training, he attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and received his MD degree in 1975. Internship and residency training followed at the University of California, San Diego from 1975-1978, and chief residency and fellowship at Cornell University School of Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 1978-1981. Dr. Yung currently holds the title of Professor of Neuro-Oncology and Cancer Biology, as well as the Margaret and Ben Love Chair of Clinical Cancer Care at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has served as Chair of the Department of Neuro-Oncology since 1999 and leads MD Anderson’s Brain Tumor SPORE. He is also Professor of Neurology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston Medical School and serves on the faculty of the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston. Dr. Yung is the former Editor-in-Chief of Neuro-Oncology, co-Chair of NCI’s Brain Malignancies Steering Committee, and has been named as one of the Best Doctors in America every year from 1992 to the present.

His research program at MD Anderson Cancer Center spans more than two decades and includes basic, translational, and clinical research. Along with three years of continuous funding by NCI, his work has also been funded by foundations and industry grants. His primary research interest focuses on development of molecular therapeutic strategies targeting the EGFR and PTEN/PI3 kinase pathways and the angiogenic regulatory mechanisms that are crucial to human glioma genesis and progression. The translational research effort has developed several adenoviral vectors that are capable of down-regulating TGF-α and VEGF production and angiogenesis in glioma cells. More recently, his laboratory has focused on investigating the biological activity of a series of new PTEN/PI3K pathway inhibitors in glioblastoma in vitro and in vivo models. Another research project investigates the subcellular localization of the tumor suppressor MMAC/PTEN gene and its nuclear signaling pathway.

Parallel with Dr. Yung’s laboratory research focus, is his work as principal investigator on the NCI-sponsored Brain Tumor Consortium phase I and II trials of several newly developed agents and novel combinations of targeted inhibitors designed to attack multiple involved pathways of cancer.