Brain Tumor Research

The focus of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute's brain tumor clinical research program is to improve patient outcomes through excellence in surgery and clinical trials. These studies provide new treatments to eligible patients before they are widely available.

Our translational research program brings laboratory and bioinformatics research to patients. Better diagnostics and treatment through analysis of tumor genetic material hold particularly exciting promise for brain tumors, which can affect a person's vital functions and are difficult to eradicate. 

For more information on brain tumor research, call: (313) 916-2310

Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford

The Hermelin Brain Tumor Center (HBTC) offers access to new brain tumor therapies through more than 25 clinical trials and research programs. We are the only site in Michigan offering therapies through the Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC).

Our affiliation with the ABTC helps us advance research and makes available phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials to our patients.

  • HBTC is participating in the first randomized trial to assess a facilitator-directed early Advanced Care Planning intervention to optimize end-of-life (EoL) decision making and quality of life of brain tumor patients and their caregivers.
  • In 2015, Henry Ford joined MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, UCLA and the University of Utah in the leadership of the newly established GBM-AGILE program (Glioblastoma Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment). This new global initiative combines drug development, clinical trials, advanced precision medicine genetic testing and crowdsourcing informatics and telecommunications to improve treatment of GBMs.

Our brain cancer researchers benefit from our work with:

  • Brain tumor genomics: We have worked extensively to understand the genetics of brain tumors. We seek to develop therapies matched to each patient's brain tumor genetics for the best chance at recovery.
  • Our brain tumor tissue bank: We host the world’s second-largest brain tumor tissue bank. This resource allows researchers to study many types of tumor cells from a diverse patient population. Learn more about our cancer research cores and shared resources.
  • Contributions to The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA): TCGA is a national cooperative of major academic medical centers, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which is responsible for identifying certain survival-related genes. TCGA-generated data is a major resource for our research laboratories. Find out more about The Cancer Genome Atlas.
  • Brain tumor imaging research: We contribute to the multi-institutional effort to correlate clinical imaging with genotype of brain tumors. This research contributes to The Cancer Imaging Archive.
  • Support for new World Health Organization (WHO) classification of gliomas: Henry Ford investigators made significant contributions to the hallmark paper on the use of epigenomics and genomics features to improve diagnosis and classification of adult gliomas.

Our brain cancer researchers collaborate closely with experts across all departments, including neurosurgery, neurology, radiology and pathology, at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center.


Brain cancer research

Our researchers work from the molecular through the clinical levels of research. Some of our recent investigations include:

  • Precision medicine for brain tumors:
    • Identifying critical biomarkers and other pretreatment screening tools to personalize tumor treatment for individual patients through our precision medicine cancer research 
    • Developing brain tumor patient-derived models for studying cancer biology and developing new therapies
    • Evaluating the outcome of specific chemotherapeutic treatments based on molecular profiling
  • Integrated molecular characterization of brain tumors:
    • Developing novel analytical tools and methods to understand the link between specific intergenic regions and gene regulation associated with somatic and germline risk elements in cancer
    • Characterizing the epigenetic landscape of pituitary, thyroid and adrenocortical tumors
    • Understanding how molecularly integrated diagnosis according to WHO 2016 diagnosis groups will translate into outcomes and treatment decisions for glioma patients
  • Glioma progression and treatment:
    • Studying tumor clonal evolution and extra-chromosomal oncogene amplification
    • Understanding the role of PKC in the regulation of glioma cell apoptosis and autophagy
    • Understanding self-renewal and differentiation of neural stem cells and glioma stem cells
    • Testing the inhibition of serine/threonine kinases mTOR and DNA-PK to sensitize glioblastoma to DNA-damaging treatments
    • Characterizing the role of heparinase in glioma progression
  • Other brain cancer research:
    • Developing novel approaches for imaging and treating brain tumors using nanoparticles as part of our cancer imaging research 
    • Developing clinical guidelines for metastatic disease

Get involved with brain cancer research

We could not conduct successful brain cancer research without the assistance and support of patients, families, physicians and other researchers.

To participate in our brain cancer research:

  • Find a clinical trial: With hundreds of clinical trials underway, we may be able to offer you a treatment or technique before it is available in most places. Learn more about clinical trials.
  • Become a Henry Ford researcher: Brain cancer researchers, neurologists and surgeons may be able to take part in our work. Join our research team.
  • Support cancer research: Henry Ford’s Cancer Research Advisory Group (CRAG) provides funding and resources to help advance our research. Learn how you can support cancer research.
  • For research collaborations: The following survey collects information about the resources that you would like to request from the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center. This initial information will be reviewed by our committee to determine whether the resources you need are available and appropriate next steps. Take the survey.

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