Brain Tumor Research at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, our research helps us learn more about brain tumors and find better treatments.

Our research program is one of the largest in the U.S. With funding from the National Institutes of Health and other foundations, we work to advance brain tumor science for adults and children.

Contact the Neuro-Oncology Program to Make an Appointment

To learn more about brain and nervous system cancer or to make an appointment, you can:

Fill out our online contact form.

Brain Tumor Researchers

Our researchers work as a team to learn more about brain tumors and create new treatments through clinical trials. They're experts in their fields, which include:

  • Brain and spinal imaging.
  • Brain and spine tumors
  • Brain surgery.
  • Eyes and the nervous system.
  • Radiation cancer care.

We're at the forefront of research for treatments for brain and spine tumors (neuro-oncology).

Our research takes place at the Hillman Cancer Center, Rangos Research Building, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Trying New Ways to Treat Brain Tumors

One focus of our research is finding new ways to treat gliomas, a type of brain tumor. Our team designed vaccines that target harmful factors linked to gliomas and help the immune system fight the tumor.

While early trials showed promise in boosting immune response, we want to enhance these vaccines for all glioma. We're looking at certain blood cell genes to predict vaccine success, with a focus on children with low-grade gliomas.

We're also doing research into other ways immunotherapy can help people with brain cancer. Each approach uses aspects of the immune system to make gains against tumors.

Therapies that hold promise include:

  • Genetically modified viruses.
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which block proteins that stop the immune system from being able to attack the cancer cell.

We're also seeking ways to block the pathways that urge tumor growth or turn on those that can kill tumor cells. Common treatments like chemo and radiation don't always work well for these tumors because they don't respond to damage as they should. These tumors resist natural cell death (apoptosis) when faced with DNA damage.

We're testing drugs to block these targets, either alone or mixed with drugs that trigger cell death. We're also designing and testing novel drugs that enhance radiation's tumor killing effects. This research holds great promise for improving brain tumor treatment.

Our research also informs clinical trials, which give people access to novel and cutting-edge treatments.

Clinical trials can help:

  • Advance treatments.
  • Bring hope.
  • Improve prognosis.

Trials can be helpful for people with subtypes of aggressive brain tumors that don't respond to current treatments.