$5 Million Grant To Fund Study of Genetic Origins of Brain Tumors

A new $5 million meningioma study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will seek to identify genes associated with meningioma, the most frequently reported primary intracranial tumor in the United States.

Under the leadership of Elizabeth B. Claus, Ph.D., M.D., a professor at Yale School of Public Health and an attending neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the “Genome-Wide Association Study of Meningioma” will enroll thousands of people in an attempt to pinpoint the genetic origins of the disease.

“This is the first effort to perform a genomewide association study of meningioma,” said Claus. “As these studies require extremely large numbers of persons to achieve statistical power, we will be opening our enrollment to patients beyond our ongoing population-based meningioma studies, allowing us to include meningioma patients worldwide.”

Meningioma tumors afflict thousands of people in just the United States each year. They form in the meninges, the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, and can grow to a very large size, causing seizures, loss of vision or weakness in limbs.

The genomewide study will include approximately 2,000 people diagnosed with meningioma and another 6,000 control subjects, many of whom will be drawn from Yale University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of California at San Francisco and Duke University.

Claus is also the principal investigator of the Meningioma Consortium Study, a nationwide group of researchers that is seeking to identify genetic and environmental risk factors associated with the development of meningioma and to determine how the tumors affect quality of life. They are examining whether exposure to radiation and hormones among other factors contribute to the onset of the tumors.

This $9.5 million study, also funded by the NIH, has already enrolled over 1,100 meningioma subjects, with an overall goal of 1,600 subjects. Additional investigators for these projects include Melissa Bondy, Ph.D., at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Joseph Wiemels, Ph.D., and Margaret Wrensch, Ph.D., of the University of California at San Francisco and Joellen Schildkraut, Ph.D., at Duke University.

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Michael Greenwood: michael.greenwood@yale.edu, 203-737-5151