With an impressive background in pediatric brain tumor research, Dr. Javad Nazarian brings a wealth of experience and a clear vision for advancing the field as the new Children’s Brain Tumor Network (CBTN) Scientific Committee Co-Chair.
Beyond his recent appointment, Dr. Nazarian has been deeply involved within CBTN, contributing his expertise to advance pediatric brain tumor research. He plays a pivotal role in CBTN and Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) clinical trials working group, particularly in the study of Diffuse Midline Glioma (DMG) and Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Dr. Nazarian serves as a Co-Principal Investigator for two ongoing PNOC clinical trials in DMG (PNOC22/23). His focus is on creating and studying connected samples from these trials.
A Pathway to Collaboration
"What drew me to CBTN was not merely the sheer scale of data but also the underlying philosophy of pure collaboration."
Dr. Nazarian's path to leadership in pediatric brain tumor research is marked by a diverse academic background and a profound commitment to making a difference. His journey began with a Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University in 2005, where he conducted pioneering research on genes and how muscles connect using a method called laser capture microdissection.
Dr. Nazarian's postdoctoral experiences highlight his versatility. However, it was a fateful encounter with a family in 2008, who were searching for answers to their daughter's brain tumor diagnosis, that ignited his passion for pediatric brain tumor research.
Taking on the challenge as his first postdoctoral assignment, Dr. Nazarian recognized the pressing need for progress in this field saying, "At the time, resources were scarce, and clinical trials often yielded disappointing results."
Yet, driven by the unwavering support of patient families, Dr. Nazarian and his colleagues have made remarkable strides in expanding tissue samples, establishing cell lines, and deepening understanding of the genomics of pediatric brain tumors.
Pioneering Tools for Precision Medicine
Dr. Nazarian played a significant role in the development of the CNS Target Agent Prediction (CNS TAP) tool, a valuable resource aimed at enhancing the precision of drug selection for treating high-grade gliomas. This collaborative effort with esteemed researchers like Carl Koschmann (University of Michigan Medicine) has yielded fresh insights into the mechanisms governing the response of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) to therapies like the imipridone ONC201.
This innovative tool enables doctors to tailor their treatment approaches at an individualized level. Predicting the most effective drugs for high-grade gliomas empowers medical professionals to provide more personalized and targeted care for patients, potentially improving outcomes in the fight against this challenging condition. The CNS TAP tool has seamlessly integrated into various clinical trials, including PNOC003 and PNOC008, further demonstrating its importance in advancing glioma research and treatment.
He emphasizes how CBTN's collaborative approach and extensive network have significantly expedited the pace of his projects, particularly those involving the analysis of tumor genetic data. The CNS TAP tool, available online at cnstap.org, represents a major step forward in the field of medicine.
A Vision for Preclinical Research
"CBTN is like the Amazon of science. When I wanted to read an article 15 years ago, it would take over a month for a publication to get to me. CBTN brings the data to your doorstep. No more relying on just a single institution."
As the new Scientific Committee Co-Chair of CBTN, Dr. Nazarian leads efforts in preclinical research, emphasizing its pivotal role in advancing childhood brain tumor research. He envisions further growth in preclinical research, particularly through the integration of real-time drug screening in collaboration with organizations like the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
CBTN's position as the largest research platform for pediatric brain tumor research fuels Dr. Nazarian's enthusiasm. He believes that his role as Scientific Co-Chair will involve forging connections and collaborations among researchers, clinicians, funders, data registries, and industry partners, ultimately advancing the frontiers of collaboration and real-time data sharing.
A Call to Future Innovators
Dr. Nazarian encourages scientists, clinicians, and early-career researchers as well as those considering a shift toward pediatric research to explore the opportunities available at CBTN. Pediatric brain tumors represent a formidable challenge in the field of medicine, and Dr. Nazarian firmly believes that those engaged in pediatric brain tumor research within CBTN play a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of brain tumor biology and improving patient outcomes.
"As researchers, our journey is marked by persistent effort and the occasional setbacks. Challenges are frequent, and failures are not uncommon. Yet, it's in these moments that we find the potential for groundbreaking discoveries.”