You are here

Chief
Mark R. Gilbert, M.D.
Program Administrator (Contr.)
Lilian E. Yang, M.B.A.

Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute

Building 82, Room 225
Bethesda, MD 20892-8202
301-402-6298

The Brain Tumor Clinic at NIH

Welcome to the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) Brain Tumor Clinic.

The Brain Tumor Clinic is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, other healthcare providers, and scientists who are dedicated to developing new therapies and improving outcomes for patients with primary brain and spinal cord tumors.

We offer our patients:

  • Expert evaluation, examinations, tests and imaging
  • State-of-the-art neurosurgery and radiation therapy
  • Therapies based on the genetic characteristics of your specific tumor
  • Consultations and treatments at the Clinic are free-of-charge

The Brain Tumor Clinic is located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

This is a joint program of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

 

Patient Care

patient and physicianThe diagnosis of a brain tumor often causes many emotions and anxiety for the patient and their family. Reactions can range from denial and shock to anger and confusion. This can seem overwhelming and many patients and families feel like they do not know where to start.

We focus on you.  Our physicians and staff understand what you are feeling and your needs. Our team  provides you with a comprehensive plan that, together with your physician at home, will ensure you get the best treatment possible.  Learn more about our...

About the NIH Clinical Center

The NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is America's reseach hospital. As a federally funded facility, all consultations and treatments at the Clinical Center are free-of-charge. Patients and their families can focus on treatment instead of cost.

Referrals

Candidates for consultation include patients:

  • with newly diagnosed or recurrent primary tumors of the CNS
  • with systemic cancers that have metastasized to the CNS
  • without a formal diagnosis but with radiographic findings that are concerning for a brain tumor

physician evaluating patientNew Referrals:  1-866-251-9686 (toll-free) or 301-594-6767 (local)

All Other Inquiries:  301- 402-6298

Our nurse practitioners contact any prospective patients within 24 hours after your call to collect basic information and give further instructions. We require a medical summary, relevant radiographic scans (MRI, CT, PET), pathology report, and additional materials as indicated.

With the patient’s permission, we keep their primary physician fully informed and involved in their care. After consultation, the Neuro-Oncology Branch physician (or nurse practitioner) will contact the patient's primary physician  to coordinate care and follow-up plans.

Make an Appointment

The diagnosis of a brain tumor can be a frightening and overwhelming experience; many patients feel it is urgent to get started with their care. Our support team will coordinate all your appointments and travel. Appointments are usually available within a few days. We also believe strongly in collaborating with your primary care physican (with your permission) to form your "expert care team." Call us at:

  • 1-866-251-9686 or 301-594-6767 (Monday–Friday,  9:00 am–5:00 pm EST)

Before your first visit, we may ask you to provide:

  • NIH clinical centerMedical records
  • CDs with MRIs, CTs, PET scans
  • List of medications

What are the costs?

  • Consultations are free-of-charge. 
  • After a patient is accepted on a study, treatments, tests and other services at the NIH Clinical Center are also free.
  • NIH does not cover expenses for medical services at other facilities.

Where is the clinic located?

  • On the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, approximately 8 miles north of Washington, D.C.
  • The Brain Tumor Clinic is on the 13th floor of the Magnuson Clinical Center (Building 10).
  • Visitor information is available at NIH Clinical Center - Access and Directions (View Map).

Learn more...

Our Scientific Research

brain scanPrimary tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) are the second leading cause of cancer mortality in people under the age of 34 and the fourth leading cause of cancer mortality in individuals under the age of 54. With the dramatic improvement in the treatment of childhood leukemia, cancers of the brain and spinal cord are quickly becoming the leading cause of cancer deaths in children in the United States.

neuro oncology word cloud

New Strategies for Tumor Targeting. Although there have been many advances in neurosurgery, radiation oncology, and imaging of the nervous system, the treatments for patients with malignant brain and spinal cord tumors rarely result in a cure. The Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) is a critical component of the Brain Tumor Program at NIH.  In order to make major advances against these cancers, a multifaceted approach is needed.  We are developing  an integrated clinical, translational, and basic research program that engages the strengths and resources of both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to develop novel experimental therapeutics for children and adults with tumors of the brain and spinal cord. Toward this end, our translational efforts will focus on new strategies for selective tumor targeting through:

  • Targeting unique genetic aspects of tumor and survival pathways
  • Exploring tumor cell metabolism as a possible vulnerable target
  • Enhancing the patient's immune response to the tumor

Additionally, the branch has undertaken a large national study to create a molecular classification of gliomas so that physicians will be able to give a more accurate prognosis to patients as well as select more appropriate treatments that have a greater likelihood of being effective in any individual tumor.

Molecular Classification. It is known that human gliomas (brain tumors) are a heterogeneous group of tumors; however, there are no pathologic classification schemas that reproducibly allow us to separate out biologically similar tumors. We have initiated a large cDNA microarray effort in collaboration with the Human Genome Project and the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project (CGAP) to develop a comprehensive and novel molecular classification schema for human gliomas based on a gene expression profile using cDNA microarray technology. We have constructed our own cDNA microarray "chips" which will be enhanced for new and selective genes thought to be important in glioma biology. This project will include hundreds of tumor specimens and offer an unprecedented opportunity for gene discovery, dissecting signal transduction pathways, and learning this exciting new technology.

Neurotoxicity. We have a growing interest in better understanding the cellular, molecular, and genetic basis for drug- and radiation-induced neurotoxicity.  We will be examining the clinical and genetic factors that predispose certain people to treatment-related toxicities so that we can further optimize treatment.  This would combine the best treatment for the cancer that has the lowest risk for side effects in an individual patient.

Brain Tumor Clinic. We have built an administrative and clinical infrastructure to see and treat pediatric and adult patients with primary tumors of the CNS at the NIH Clinical Center.  Patients receive oustanding clinical care by highly experienced providers who are experts in treatment and patient management.  We have also developed close relationships with outside institutions and with the collaborative cancer groups, specifically the CNS Tumor Consortium, and we have opened up a referral base for patients with CNS neoplasms and their physicians to obtain information and advice about potential therapeutic options. Through this flow of patients, we will have ready access to the relatively large numbers of patients that will be necessary to complete early clinical trials of the novel therapeutic agents as these agents come out of our laboratory investigations.

Our plan is to conduct early pilot and feasibility trials within the NIH Clinical Center and then to export the most promising of these therapeutic approaches to larger groups to do large-scale clinical trials.  The NOB and other NIH laboratories will be involved with these clinical trials to perform important correlative studies to optimize treatment, determine which tumors are most likely to respond and to examine mechanisms of resistance to therapy.  It is through this process that we hope to develop a unique NCI-sponsored, nationally coordinated therapeutics development program for tumors of the brain and spinal cord.

Neuro-Oncology Clinical Fellowship

clinician explaining brain scansThis is a joint program with the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.  The goal is to prepare neurologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons for research careers in neuro-oncology. Training includes:

  • formal coursework in pharmacology and clinical research methodology, 
  • academic biweekly conferences, and
  • patient management from a pool of more than 2,000 brain tumor patients who are seen each year in our Brain Tumor Clinic.

Trainees will participate in developing and implementing clinical trials for adult brain tumor therapeutics. Fellows also have the opportunity to attend national scientific meetings and are mentored in pursuit of their clinical, basic, and translational brain tumor research interests.  For more information or to submit an application, please contact:  NCINeuroOncology@mail.nih.gov.

 

Our News

brain tumorThe Neuro-Oncology Branch Welcomes Dr. Mark Gilbert as New Branch Chief

Dr. Gilbert's vision is to build a highly collaborative, robust translational research program centered on finding treatments for brain and other central nervous system tumors.  Learn more about Dr. Gilbert . . . 

A New "America's Neuro-Oncologist" at the National Cancer Institute
National Brain Tumor Society (October 28, 2014)

"Having had the pleasure of working together with Dr. Gilbert on a number of projects in recent years, I can attest to his expertise, professionalism, and dedication to the brain tumor community, said David Arons, Chief Public Policy and Advocacy Officer, National Brain Tumor Society. "Dr. Gilbert is an excellent fit, and we look forward to working with him as he develops his programs and priorities for the Neuro-Oncology Branch moving forward."  Read the complete article. . .

Our Mission

The Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) is a trans-institutional initiative that launched in 2000. NOB is sponsored by both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Our mission is to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic agents for patients with primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. The branch's strategic direction is founded on the belief that the continued application of the traditional and largely empiric approach to cancer drug development that has dominated oncology for three decades will likely result in only small, incremental progress in the treatment of patients with malignant gliomas.

Meaningful advances in patient outcomes will more likely result from therapeutic approaches based on a greater understanding of glioma genetics and biology with the subsequent application of that understanding toward individualized and targeted treatments for patients based on their specific tumor characteristics. Additionally, clinical investigations will incorporate tools to measure the impact of the disease on patient function.  This will typically include measures of symptom burden, quality of life, and cognitive function.

Although we understand that the idea of "personalized medicine" will only be fully realized through the engagement of the entire cancer research and cancer care enterprise, the NOB functions under the premise that within the protected clinical environment and immense scientific freedom of the NIH intramural program, we are ideally situated to build a small prototype of a biology-driven, individualized, patient-centric rational therapeutics program.

About

The Brain Tumor Clinic at NIH

Welcome to the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) Brain Tumor Clinic.

The Brain Tumor Clinic is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, other healthcare providers, and scientists who are dedicated to developing new therapies and improving outcomes for patients with primary brain and spinal cord tumors.

We offer our patients:

  • Expert evaluation, examinations, tests and imaging
  • State-of-the-art neurosurgery and radiation therapy
  • Therapies based on the genetic characteristics of your specific tumor
  • Consultations and treatments at the Clinic are free-of-charge

The Brain Tumor Clinic is located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

This is a joint program of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

 

Referrals

Referrals

Candidates for consultation include patients:

  • with newly diagnosed or recurrent primary tumors of the CNS
  • with systemic cancers that have metastasized to the CNS
  • without a formal diagnosis but with radiographic findings that are concerning for a brain tumor

physician evaluating patientNew Referrals:  1-866-251-9686 (toll-free) or 301-594-6767 (local)

All Other Inquiries:  301- 402-6298

Our nurse practitioners contact any prospective patients within 24 hours after your call to collect basic information and give further instructions. We require a medical summary, relevant radiographic scans (MRI, CT, PET), pathology report, and additional materials as indicated.

With the patient’s permission, we keep their primary physician fully informed and involved in their care. After consultation, the Neuro-Oncology Branch physician (or nurse practitioner) will contact the patient's primary physician  to coordinate care and follow-up plans.

For Patients

Patient Care

patient and physicianThe diagnosis of a brain tumor often causes many emotions and anxiety for the patient and their family. Reactions can range from denial and shock to anger and confusion. This can seem overwhelming and many patients and families feel like they do not know where to start.

We focus on you.  Our physicians and staff understand what you are feeling and your needs. Our team  provides you with a comprehensive plan that, together with your physician at home, will ensure you get the best treatment possible.  Learn more about our...

About the NIH Clinical Center

The NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is America's reseach hospital. As a federally funded facility, all consultations and treatments at the Clinical Center are free-of-charge. Patients and their families can focus on treatment instead of cost.

Appointment

Make an Appointment

The diagnosis of a brain tumor can be a frightening and overwhelming experience; many patients feel it is urgent to get started with their care. Our support team will coordinate all your appointments and travel. Appointments are usually available within a few days. We also believe strongly in collaborating with your primary care physican (with your permission) to form your "expert care team." Call us at:

  • 1-866-251-9686 or 301-594-6767 (Monday–Friday,  9:00 am–5:00 pm EST)

Before your first visit, we may ask you to provide:

  • NIH clinical centerMedical records
  • CDs with MRIs, CTs, PET scans
  • List of medications

What are the costs?

  • Consultations are free-of-charge. 
  • After a patient is accepted on a study, treatments, tests and other services at the NIH Clinical Center are also free.
  • NIH does not cover expenses for medical services at other facilities.

Where is the clinic located?

  • On the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, approximately 8 miles north of Washington, D.C.
  • The Brain Tumor Clinic is on the 13th floor of the Magnuson Clinical Center (Building 10).
  • Visitor information is available at NIH Clinical Center - Access and Directions (View Map).

Learn more...

For Trainees

Neuro-Oncology Clinical Fellowship

clinician explaining brain scansThis is a joint program with the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.  The goal is to prepare neurologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons for research careers in neuro-oncology. Training includes:

  • formal coursework in pharmacology and clinical research methodology, 
  • academic biweekly conferences, and
  • patient management from a pool of more than 2,000 brain tumor patients who are seen each year in our Brain Tumor Clinic.

Trainees will participate in developing and implementing clinical trials for adult brain tumor therapeutics. Fellows also have the opportunity to attend national scientific meetings and are mentored in pursuit of their clinical, basic, and translational brain tumor research interests.  For more information or to submit an application, please contact:  NCINeuroOncology@mail.nih.gov.

 

Our Science

Our Scientific Research

brain scanPrimary tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) are the second leading cause of cancer mortality in people under the age of 34 and the fourth leading cause of cancer mortality in individuals under the age of 54. With the dramatic improvement in the treatment of childhood leukemia, cancers of the brain and spinal cord are quickly becoming the leading cause of cancer deaths in children in the United States.

neuro oncology word cloud

New Strategies for Tumor Targeting. Although there have been many advances in neurosurgery, radiation oncology, and imaging of the nervous system, the treatments for patients with malignant brain and spinal cord tumors rarely result in a cure. The Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) is a critical component of the Brain Tumor Program at NIH.  In order to make major advances against these cancers, a multifaceted approach is needed.  We are developing  an integrated clinical, translational, and basic research program that engages the strengths and resources of both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to develop novel experimental therapeutics for children and adults with tumors of the brain and spinal cord. Toward this end, our translational efforts will focus on new strategies for selective tumor targeting through:

  • Targeting unique genetic aspects of tumor and survival pathways
  • Exploring tumor cell metabolism as a possible vulnerable target
  • Enhancing the patient's immune response to the tumor

Additionally, the branch has undertaken a large national study to create a molecular classification of gliomas so that physicians will be able to give a more accurate prognosis to patients as well as select more appropriate treatments that have a greater likelihood of being effective in any individual tumor.

Molecular Classification. It is known that human gliomas (brain tumors) are a heterogeneous group of tumors; however, there are no pathologic classification schemas that reproducibly allow us to separate out biologically similar tumors. We have initiated a large cDNA microarray effort in collaboration with the Human Genome Project and the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project (CGAP) to develop a comprehensive and novel molecular classification schema for human gliomas based on a gene expression profile using cDNA microarray technology. We have constructed our own cDNA microarray "chips" which will be enhanced for new and selective genes thought to be important in glioma biology. This project will include hundreds of tumor specimens and offer an unprecedented opportunity for gene discovery, dissecting signal transduction pathways, and learning this exciting new technology.

Neurotoxicity. We have a growing interest in better understanding the cellular, molecular, and genetic basis for drug- and radiation-induced neurotoxicity.  We will be examining the clinical and genetic factors that predispose certain people to treatment-related toxicities so that we can further optimize treatment.  This would combine the best treatment for the cancer that has the lowest risk for side effects in an individual patient.

Brain Tumor Clinic. We have built an administrative and clinical infrastructure to see and treat pediatric and adult patients with primary tumors of the CNS at the NIH Clinical Center.  Patients receive oustanding clinical care by highly experienced providers who are experts in treatment and patient management.  We have also developed close relationships with outside institutions and with the collaborative cancer groups, specifically the CNS Tumor Consortium, and we have opened up a referral base for patients with CNS neoplasms and their physicians to obtain information and advice about potential therapeutic options. Through this flow of patients, we will have ready access to the relatively large numbers of patients that will be necessary to complete early clinical trials of the novel therapeutic agents as these agents come out of our laboratory investigations.

Our plan is to conduct early pilot and feasibility trials within the NIH Clinical Center and then to export the most promising of these therapeutic approaches to larger groups to do large-scale clinical trials.  The NOB and other NIH laboratories will be involved with these clinical trials to perform important correlative studies to optimize treatment, determine which tumors are most likely to respond and to examine mechanisms of resistance to therapy.  It is through this process that we hope to develop a unique NCI-sponsored, nationally coordinated therapeutics development program for tumors of the brain and spinal cord.

News

Our News

brain tumorThe Neuro-Oncology Branch Welcomes Dr. Mark Gilbert as New Branch Chief

Dr. Gilbert's vision is to build a highly collaborative, robust translational research program centered on finding treatments for brain and other central nervous system tumors.  Learn more about Dr. Gilbert . . . 

A New "America's Neuro-Oncologist" at the National Cancer Institute
National Brain Tumor Society (October 28, 2014)

"Having had the pleasure of working together with Dr. Gilbert on a number of projects in recent years, I can attest to his expertise, professionalism, and dedication to the brain tumor community, said David Arons, Chief Public Policy and Advocacy Officer, National Brain Tumor Society. "Dr. Gilbert is an excellent fit, and we look forward to working with him as he develops his programs and priorities for the Neuro-Oncology Branch moving forward."  Read the complete article. . .

Our Mission

The Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) is a trans-institutional initiative that launched in 2000. NOB is sponsored by both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Our mission is to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic agents for patients with primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors. The branch's strategic direction is founded on the belief that the continued application of the traditional and largely empiric approach to cancer drug development that has dominated oncology for three decades will likely result in only small, incremental progress in the treatment of patients with malignant gliomas.

Meaningful advances in patient outcomes will more likely result from therapeutic approaches based on a greater understanding of glioma genetics and biology with the subsequent application of that understanding toward individualized and targeted treatments for patients based on their specific tumor characteristics. Additionally, clinical investigations will incorporate tools to measure the impact of the disease on patient function.  This will typically include measures of symptom burden, quality of life, and cognitive function.

Although we understand that the idea of "personalized medicine" will only be fully realized through the engagement of the entire cancer research and cancer care enterprise, the NOB functions under the premise that within the protected clinical environment and immense scientific freedom of the NIH intramural program, we are ideally situated to build a small prototype of a biology-driven, individualized, patient-centric rational therapeutics program.