World Health Organization Re-Classification of Brain Tumors Takes Center Stage at American Brain Tumor Association's National Patient and Family Conference July 29-30

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- Conference sessions promote patient and caregiver empowerment in a world of precision medicine -

July 7, 2016

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ABTA national conference reflects the advances in science and medicine

The 2016 American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) National Patient and Family Conference, Precision Medicine and Its Impact on Brain Tumors: Low Grade, High Grade and Metastatic, reflects the culmination of advances in science and medicine that for the first time offers brain tumor patients better treatment options and, as a result, better outcomes and improved quality of life.

For more than 100 years, a brain tumor diagnosis has been based entirely on the way the tumor looks under a microscope. In May 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a global reclassification of brain tumors that now includes the tumor's genetic information.

The American Brain Tumor Association's National Patient and Family Conference, being held July 29-30 in Chicago, is the ABTA's first gathering of patients, caregivers, researchers and the medical community since the WHO announcement. "The updated WHO classifications signal the universal arrival of personalized medicine in the brain tumor community," said Elizabeth Wilson, ABTA president and CEO. "This conference is the ideal venue for bringing all of these dynamic and exciting advances to the attention of the very patients and families who stand to benefit from them."

Kenneth Aldape, MD, University of Toronto and past professor of pathology at MD Anderson Cancer Center will introduce the new classifications in the opening panel discussion focused on Precision Medicine Driving Advances in Brain Tumors. Dr. Aldape, who is a past president of the Society for Neuro-Oncology will discuss how the WHO reclassifications will improve the lives of brain tumor patients through greater diagnostic accuracy, improved patient management and more accurate determinations of prognosis and treatment response.

Joining Dr. Aldape are panelists David A. Reardon, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and immediate past president of the Society of Neuro-Oncology, who will address the topic of translational genomics and the impact of molecular profiling on the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors as well as in drug development; and Elizabeth B. Claus, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Yale School of Public Health, who will share her efforts to advance the understanding of low grade gliomas (LGG) through the first International Low Grade Glioma Patient Registry. The registry, being funded in part by the ABTA, will be launched at the conference and will enable researchers to identify inherited and non-inherited genetic differences in LGG tumors and assess tumor progression and treatment response over time.

Metastatic brain tumors, or secondary brain tumors, represent another first at this national conference. Brain metastases are on the rise as treatment regimens for other cancers are preventing growth of primary tumors, yet failing to prevent the cancer from disseminating to the brain. The Challenge of Metastatic Brain Tumors panel includes Paul Brown, MD, Mayo Clinic; Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, FACP, Cleveland Clinic; and Priscilla Brastianos, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital.  

Day two opens with a series of short presentations on Understanding Your Brain Tumor, Treatment Options, and Decision-Making:

  • Genes and Tumor Markers by Daniel J. Brat, MD, Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University
  • Understanding Your Imaging by Annette Johnson, MD, MS, Wake Forest School of Medicine
  • Seizure Management by Amy A. Pruitt, MD, University of Pennsylvania Hospital
  • Reproductive Challenges and Family Planning by Lisa Kolp, MD, Johns Hopkins Medicine

These presentation briefs will be followed by focused breakout sessions on specific tumor types and popular quality of life topics led by industry experts:

  • Low Grade Tumors & Meningiomas led by Nina Paleologos, MD, Rush University Medical Center and Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD, FRCS(C), FAANS, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network
  • High Grade Tumors led by E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, FAANS, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Metastatic Brain Tumors led by Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, FACP, Cleveland Clinic and Elizabeth B. Claus, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Yale School of Public Health 
  • Securing Your Care Preferences: Guidance on an Advanced Directive led by Randi Belisomo, MSJ, MA and Celeste Gallati, MBA, Life Matters Media
  • Getting Back to Work: Tips & Tools led by Monica Bryant, Esq., Triage Cancer
  • Caring for the Caregiver led by Jean Arzbaecher, RN, MSN, APN, CNRN, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Keeping a Focus on Function led by Samman (Sam) Shahpar, MD, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago 

The concluding panel features presentations on The Science and Technology Driving Innovative Treatment Options and includes presentations on:

  • Neurosurgery – Brain Mapping by Mitchel S. Berger, MD, FACS, FAANS, University of California San Francisco
  • Proton Therapy for Brain Tumors by Paul Brown, MD, Mayo Clinic
  • Immunotherapy by David Reardon, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

All sessions include a question and answer period, and frequent breaks for attendee networking.

To register for the conference, go to, call 800-886-ABTA (2282) or email

Advance registration is required by July 22. The deadline for discounted hotel rooms is July 14.  See the full program online.


Founded in 1973, the American Brain Tumor Association was the first and is the only national patient advocacy organization committed to funding brain tumor research and providing support and education programs for all tumor types for all ages.  

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Media contact:
Martha Carlos