Today, the CBTN announced the launch of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas, A dataset of more than 2,500 childhood brain tumor samples will be available to researchers within an open-access, collaborative and cloud-based environment

One of the world’s most comprehensive collections of childhood brain tumor data is now available to researchers as the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas (PBTA), a Children’s Brain Tumor Network (CBTN) initiative seeking to transform the discovery process and accelerate the translation of large-scale molecular and clinical datasets to novel therapeutic approaches for children affected by brain tumors. The dataset release represents data collected from more than 1,000 subjects and 30 unique brain tumor types. The openly-available data stored within the Atlas will continue to increase, with additional datasets projected for release in May 2019.

“This type of open-access data generation effort will accelerate development of brain tumor treatments by eliminating barriers that have historically existed, including a lack of access to biospecimens and patient related data,” said Angela Waanders, MD, MPH, CBTN Executive Chair.

Pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of diseaserelated death in children. Unlike most adult cancers, the causes of pediatric brain tumors remain largely unknown and decades-old therapies have remained mostly unchanged. Such therapies are often not tumor-specific and can impart toxicities to the developing nervous systems of children.  Furthermore, many tumors are inoperable or cannot be fully removed surgically due to their location in sensitive areas of the brain, further limiting options for the care of patients. To address these challenges, clinicians and researchers have embraced the emergence of sequencing technologies and deep molecular characterization of tumors to define novel, targeted approaches and individualized therapies. However, harnessing such data-driven approaches has remained a challenge due to limited availability and accessibility to datasets and the absence of shared-discovery platforms that can empower large-scale integration of datasets for worldwide access and cross-disease analyses.

Initiated under the CBTN leadership of Dr. Rishi Lulla Executive Chair [2016-2018], and Drs. Adam Resnick and Javad Nazarian, CBTN Scientific Committee Co-Chairs, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas represents a first-in-kind, collaborative effort across more than 16 CBTN primary member institutions, foundation and industry partners. Committed to accelerated discovery, the CBTN is partnering with the Kids First Data Resource Center (DRC), and the newly developed Kids First Data Resource Portal, which was also launched today.

“The combination of consortia-based initiatives, partnerships with foundations, and new discovery platforms being announced today, with the support of the National Institutes of Health, provides for entirely new and transformative ways of doing science on behalf of children with brain tumors,” said Adam Resnick, PhD, Principal Investigator of the Kids First Data Resource Center.

Organized in 2017, the Kids First Data Resource Center is a National Institutes of Health initiative focused on the creation of a cloud-based, shared-discovery platform designed to perform cross-disease analysis across large-scale datasets from pediatric cancers and structural birth defects.  Data from more than 25,000 childhood cancer and structural birth defect samples will be available to researchers, clinicians and patients, comprising one of the world’s largest collections of childhood genomic data. In addition to molecular and clinical datasets, the portal provides multiple educational and disease-specific resources for the medical and research communities and patients. It will provide additional opportunities for communities to communicate, interact and engage in collaborative data and resource sharing in the near future.

“Never before has such a comprehensive dataset been made available to researchers worldwide prior to publication. This effort is not only impressive from a data collection and sharing standpoint, but it also shows a real effort to find cures faster and put our children first,” said Amanda Haddock, President Dragon Master Foundation and Advisory Council Liaison to the CBTN Scientific Committee.

Brain Tumor Atlas datasets will initially focus on large-scale genomic data, including whole genome sequencing and RNA sequencing.  This genomic data is also paired with clinical data, pathology reports and histology and radiologic images.  Prior to the launch of the Brain Tumor Atlas, managing large-scale data was often impractical, costly and time-consuming for individual investigators to download and analyze.  Additionally, downloaded data and associated discovery efforts were siloed and often resulted in duplication of efforts across institutions. To overcome such challenges and accelerate discovery, the CBTN datasets in the Kids First Data Resource Portal are coupled with CAVATICA, a genomic analytic workspace cloud environment that allows investigators to, instead of downloading data, bring their research analyses workflows directly to the data and perform large-scale computation in the cloud.  Analytic visualization tools for the CBTN datasets are further empowered via collaborative analysis tools in PedcBioPortal.  PedcBioPortal supports integrated visualization of CBTN analyzed data with other published pediatric cancer datasets.

“For a child with a brain tumor, these efforts mean that more researchers have the potential to work on their disease, and may find therapies that are already in use in a different disease population. It means that a researcher can spend more time doing actual research and less time tracking down the data they need to do their work. It means that the brightest minds in the world now have access to the data they need to help those of us that treat these children daily to put an end to brain tumors once and for all,” said Phillip (Jay) Storm, MD, Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The launch of the Atlas initiative continues the collaborative research efforts of the CBTN along with its partnered clinical trials consortium, Pediatric Neuro Oncology Consortium (PNOC), also integrating its data for release today. The two brain tumor consortia have joined in their commitment to accelerate timelines and remove the traditional silos of the clinical trial and research landscapes by providing rapid and empowered access to their specimens and data. Through such efforts as the PBTA, the CBTN and its research and foundation partners are continuing their work on behalf of a global vision for the defeat of pediatric brain cancer – every child, every time, everywhere.

“When researchers learn from one another and foundations partner with one another, we move together toward hope. There are fifteen foundations who make up the Advisory Council and collaborate to support the CBTN. Each of those foundations represent the story of a child whose life ended far too soon or a child who now carries a lifelong burden that resulted not only from their disease, but also the treatment of their disease. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas is a giant leap forward for keeping the research in service of the children as it changes the landscape of how science is done and serves as a beacon of hope for families in their darkest hour,” said Al Gustafson, Board Chair of the Swifty Foundation and Advisory Council Liaison to the CBTN Executive Board.

About the Children’s Brain Tumor Network
The CBTN is a collaborative childhood brain tumor research program established in 2011 through generous funding and support of countless individuals and foundations, all with the shared vision of the CBTN that collaboration is the path to innovation. The CBTN currently consists of 16 member institutions located across the globe. For more information about CBTN or how to request data access, visit or email

Contact: Bobby Moulder, Children’s Brain Tumor Network (267) 425-0248,

SOURCE Children’s Brain Tumor Network (CBTN)

Related Links