Children’s Brain Tumor Network Hosts Annual Investigator Meeting

At each investigator meeting, CBTN presents the latest efforts to connect innovative research happening across its global network, creates opportunities to support young investigators, explores emerging areas of pediatric brain tumor research, and more. With its operations center housed at the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), CBTN is a network of more than 25 leading children’s hospitals and research centers dedicated to creating a world where no child dies or suffers from a brain tumor.


On May 20 and 21, the Children’s Brain Tumor Network (CBTN) hosted its annual Investigator Meeting (virtually) with more than 230 attendees across three continents. 

The 2021 Investigator Meeting engaged more attendees than any previous meeting. The meeting was open to researchers, clinicians, NIH partners, students/young investigators, patients and families, foundation partners and others interested in accelerating discovery in pediatric brain tumor research. To meet increased demand, future meetings will be be offered both in person and virtually.

Over the two-day meeting 26 presentations were given by physician scientists, bioinformaticians, lab researchers, data engineers, research advocates, and patient families. During the first day, presentation topics included new collaborative initiatives, emerging areas of research and national advocacy opportunities. 

Day one also included a presentation from Drs. Cassie Klein and Angela Waanders, sharing initial findings from CBTN’s collaboration with the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC) to address disparities in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across that patient care and research landscape.  

The findings shared during this presentation illustrate the current state of inequity/inequality in healthcare and clinical trial access for patients, in access to resources and education for both patient communities and researchers/clinicians, and in career advancement opportunities for researchers.  

The second day of the event focused on sharing resources to support the work of young investigators and highlighting CBTN projects that are harnessing collaborative and innovative research to improve clinical impact. Presenters shared the latest in clinical translation, targets, and therapeutics, as well as efforts to better harness clinical, genomic, and transcriptomic data to change the landscape of pediatric brain tumor research. 

Day two included an overview presentation of Project OpenPBTA, from Dr. Jaclyn Taroni of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Childhood Cancer Data Lab. Her presentation focused on how OpenPBTA is harnessing the power of open collaborative data analysis to produce a comprehensive landscape of the entirety of CBTN’s Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas. 

To view recordings of each presentation, visit the CBTN YouTube page or the new presentations page on

CBTN closed out the first day of the Investigator Meeting with the inaugural presentation of the CBTN Champions & Impact Awards. This new addition to the yearly meeting honors childhood brain tumor investigators who have accelerated the pace of scientific discovery by being champions for each of CBTN’s guiding principles—open science, pioneering spirit, and global inclusion. The event also recognizes foundation partners whose steadfast support has accelerated CBTN’s global impact and the next phase of collaborative research. 

The 2021 CBTN Champions and Impact Awardees: 

CBTN Champions in Open Science 

Casey Greene, PhD; University of Colorado
Jaclyn Taroni, PhD; Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Childhood Cancer Data Lab
Project: OpenPBTA 

CBTN Champion in Global Inclusion 

Mark Cowley, PhD; Children’s Cancer Institute, Sydney, Australia
Projects: The Australian Bioinformatics Commons Paediatric Cancer Pathfinder Project & ZERO Childhood Cancer 

CBTN Champion in Pioneering Spirit 

Trevor Pugh, PhD, FACMG; University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada 

Arash Nabbi, PhD; Princess Margaret Cancer Center, Toronto, Canada
Project:Immunogenomic Landscape of Pediatric Cancers 

CBTN Impact Awardees

To learn more about the researchers and foundations honored, and to hear their remarks, you can view the CBTN’s Champions & Impact Awards ceremony here. 

At the ceremony, CBTN also premiered a short documentary following the precious final gift one child gave to fight back against brain cancer for the sake of so many others. The family story highlighted in this piece, by filmmaker and CBTN patient parent Chad Schultz, powerfully illustrates how every child who donates to our mission impacts the future of pediatric brain tumor research in countless ways.   

In a post-event survey, attendees were asked to give feedback on the elements they found most valuable from this year’s Investigator Meeting. Here’s what some of them had to say: 

  • As a new researcher working with CBTN data, this was a fantastic opportunity to see the scope of research that is ongoing within the larger network.” 
  • “If I had to pick the most valuable, it was the continual reminders that science needs to be collaborative, as well as the open invitations to reach out to fellow investigators, the CBTN leadership, or the CBTN data experts to enhance any projects that investigators are currently working on” 
  • “I appreciated hearing the breadth of projects happening through CBTN and developing new collaborations based on work I previously was unaware of.” 


This year’s CBTN Investigator Meeting was sponsored by several partners. Many thanks once again to: