Broad Collaboration: The Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium

A growing bank of childhood brain tumor samples and associated clinical data, housed at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, shows the great importance of collaborative efforts and sharing of data in pediatric cancer research. The Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) has accumulated childhood brain tumors from a wide range of histological subtypes. This effort includes the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Seattle Children’s Hospital, as well as CHOP.

Data collection and enrollment began at CHOP in 2010 and rose significantly this year as the member institutions began activities. The CBTTC collects longitudinal clinical data and links it to each sample, and is also committed to developing and sharing cell lines and transplantable tumor models from submitted biopsy specimens.

Because pediatric brain tumors are so rare, research has been limited by access to samples. The CBTTC will speed efforts to improve testing, treatments and outcomes for children with brain tumors. “Scientific discovery is possible, no matter how rare the tumor,” says Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, a leading pediatric brain tumor researcher who is deputy scientific director of CHOP’s Research Institute. “We believe this very collaborative effort will result in new prognostic tests and treatment options.”

Along with Peter C. Phillips, MD, director of the Pediatric Neuro-oncology Program at CHOP, Phillip Storm, MD, the new chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, and Adam Resnick, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, Curran helped lead efforts to establish the CBTTC. The Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation provided support for an initial planning grant and partnered with the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association to launch the consortium and support the infrastructure.

Here are more details about the CBTTC:

  • Samples are now stored in the CHOP biorepository core. A REMP freezer shared by numerous researchers has capacity for millions of samples. Each sample has a bar-code; a robot reads the bar-codes to store and retrieve samples.
  • Histological subtypes in the bank now include medulloblastoma/PNET, atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor, low-grade astrocytoma, high-grade glioma, ependymoma, and germ cell tumors. In addition, samples include craniopharyngiomas, choroid plexus tumors, mixed histology glial tumors, pinealoblastoma, neurocytoma, meningioma, schwannomas, sarcomas, and dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors.
  • The CBTTC currently supports several projects focused on the genetic and molecular characterization of tumor subtypes: diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma, gangliogliomas, craniopharyngiomas, and pediatric and adult gliomas. Data is shared in real time with consortium members. A scientific committee reviews proposals for CBTTC-supported projects.
  • De-identified data is shared. It can be accessed 24/7 at You will need to register for an account.

The CBTTC is a growing collaboration. The website has general information. If you would like more information or are interested in becoming a member, please contact Jena Lilly at or 267-425-3137.

Oncology Update