Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Brain Tumor SPORE Cores

Core A

Administrative Core


Maciek S. Lesniak, MD (Core Leader)
David James, PhD (Co-Core Leader)

The SPORE Administrative Core will provide the structure and oversight that facilitates scientific productivity and innovation, and promotes collaborative activities for SPORE investigators. Through its functions and activities, this Core will serve as the central organizational hub for the Projects and Cores, and will assist investigators in achieving their translational research objectives. The Administrative Core ensures that the SPORE is fully integrated into the administrative structure of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCC) at Northwestern.

The Administrative Core will provide the organizational leadership that is needed by all components of the SPORE, through activities associated with the following specific aims:

  1.  Integrate the SPORE within the activities of the Lurie Cancer Center and Feinberg School of Medicine.
  2. Develop, maintain and, as needed, modify the External Advisory and Internal Advisory Boards and Executive committee that provide advice to, as well as oversight of, SPORE research.
  3. Organize and conduct bi-weekly research meetings for frequent evaluation of SPORE progress.
  4. Provide fiscal planning for and oversight of all components of this SPORE.
  5. Organize and conduct patient advocacy activities.
  6. Facilitate collaborations with investigators at the LCC, other SPORE institutions, industry, and with other funded programs.


Core B

Biospecimen Core


Craig M. Horbinski, MD (Core Leader)
Daniel   J. Brat, MD (Co-Core Leader)

The Biospecimen Core is a vital resource that supports all brain tumor research at Northwestern, and is especially important in seeing that all projects experience clinical translation within the period of SPORE funding. Regular interactions with the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Core and Administrative Core will ensure that each project achieves its objectives, and has positive impact on the care of brain tumor patients.

The Biospecimen Core will have extensive interactions with all projects and cores by acting as the central repository of patient tissues and renewable tumor resources, by providing the highest quality of tissue analytical services, and by providing neuropathological consultation. The Director of the Core, Dr. Horbinski, as well as the Co-Director, Dr. Daniel Brat, will supervise quality control testing of banked specimens, and will perform all microscopy-based analyses of patient tissues and tumor models for each SPORE project. Biospecimen Core activities will see to the following:

  1. Provide Northwestern brain tumor researchers with annotated biospecimens from brain tumor patients.
  2. Subject all biospecimens to rigorous quality control.
  3. Propagate, bank, and characterize surgical specimen derivatives, including PDX and cancer stem cell (CSC) models, to meet ongoing needs for renewable tumor cell sources.
  4. Support SPORE projects with neuropathologic consultation and analyses. 


Core C

Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core


Denise Scholtens, PhD (Core Leader)
Elizabeth Bartom, PhD (Co-Core Leader)

The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core (B&B Core) is a central component of the Brain Tumor SPORE, and provides state-of-the-art integrated data science support to all Brain Tumor SPORE projects.  Database development and maintenance will provide a centralized resource for data tracking for preclinical studies, ensuring efficient reporting and statistical analysis of all experiments. In addition, clinical databases will be developed in conjunction with all project teams to complement existing clinical trial data registries at Northwestern and ensure custom data capture in a highly secure environment. Bioinformatics activities of the B&B Core are central to discovery and will help define new and significant research directions.  The large omics data sets that will be generated in the Brain Tumor SPORE Projects require specialized expertise for preprocessing, analysis and interpretation of molecular and biological consequences of genetic manipulations and treatments.  Bioinformatics service provided by the B&B Core will contribute to the productivity of all SPORE research, and contribute to project goals being achieved. Biostatistical activities of the B&B Core are central to the concerns of rigor and reproducibility: by providing study design guidance, data management, statistical analysis and consultation for interpretation of results the core will see that reported results have been rigorously controlled and will be reproducible by others.

All functions of the B&B Core will be conducted in association with the following specific aims:

  1. Establish and maintain database functionality for all preclinical and clinical data.
  2. Provide bioinformatics collaboration and support for pre-processing and analysis of high-dimensional omics data, including array-based and sequencing data.
  3. Provide biostatistical collaboration and support for design of preclinical studies and clinical trials, as well as statistical analyses of all data. Through these activities the B&B Core will serve as a key contributor to all individual projects and will ensure that project output is accurate, reliable, and of the highest quality.



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