Research Core Facility

Molecular Morphology Laboratory

Joanna Phillips MD, PhD

Brain tumors are biologically complex and heterogeneous tissues. The goal of the Molecular Morphology Laboratory is to evaluate the biologic state of optimally preserved brain tumor tissue with immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization techniques. This tissue-based analysis, in conjunction with accurate, consistent histopathologic evaluation, will better resolve molecular targets within specific tumor cell populations. Precise cellular resolution of molecules that are associated with specific biologic processes will improve diagnosis, guide more specific therapies, and accurately characterize individual tumor responses to treatment. The Laboratory is a core resource to assist BTRC investigators in the optimization of tissue-based techniques for translational immunohistochemistry, molecular in situ studies, and laser capture microdissection.

Animal Model Core

Theodore Nicolaides MD, Director
Tomoko Ozawa MD, PhD, Co-Director

Drs. Nicolaides and Ozawa provide training in the use of various rodent brain tumor xenograft and allograft models, including intracerebral, brainstem, cerebellar, skull base and convexity engraftment models. Training includes implantation of the tumor cells, monitoring intracranial tumor growth using bioluminescence imaging, delivery of therapeutics systemically or locally, and monitoring of tumor growth and response to therapy in living animal subjects.

Drs. Nicolaides and Ozawa also provide consultation for developing in vivo study designs and animal protocols.

For more information, please visit our instructional video publications at:


Anette Molinaro PhD

Dr. Molinaro provides statistical input as co-investigator on many of the research projects. Additional support in the area of Biostatistics has also become available through the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center Biostatistics Core. 

Neuro-Oncology Clinical Research

The Neuro-Oncology clinical researchers are present at each tumor board conference, as well as in the clinic so that a patient's eligibility for protocol, consent process, registration, randomization, data entry, and date verification can be accomplished in a timely fashion. Clinical researchers are responsible for submitting protocols to review committees, including the Department Site Review Committee, Cancer Center Protocol Review Committee, the UCSF Committee on Human Research, and the Biosafety Committee, and to other review processes as needed. Clinical researchers review eligibility with the Clinical Nurse Specialists and Principal Investigators.

The Neuro-Oncology database includes data from approximately 5000 patients, with data collection from 1978 to 2002. It can accommodate variables established by the investigator and statistician. Variables routinely entered into the data base include: demographic data, gender and minority status, age, KPS score, diagnosis date, histology, extent of resection, and medications. Treatment-specific information, such as radiation total dose, fractions, fields, dates, type of radiation, chemotherapy dates and doses, toxicities, laboratory values, date of scans, response data, relapse date and site, and date and cause of death are collected and entered. Prior therapy and therapy given subsequent to protocol therapy are also entered. MR, CT, PET, and SPECT imaging data are collected. Biological data are entered as needed, including labeling index, pharmacokinetics (PK) data, and any protocol-required biologic data. Correlations to the Tissue Bank data base can be made so that outcome can be correlated with tissue-derived data. All protocol patients are entered into the data base, as are nonprotocol patients who may be identified by the BTRC Principal Investigators requesting outcome measures. Reports can be generated from the Neuro-Oncology data base for reports to the UCSF Committee on Human Research and summary reports preparatory to publication. The data are reviewed upon entry, again at protocol-specified time points, and before report preparation.

Clinical Research Data Base

Jing Li, Data Manager

The Department of Neurological Surgery maintains a clinical research data base that includes limited information on all patients seen by the Department's physicians. The goal of this data base is to provide sufficient information to identify cases that might be appropriate for inclusion in studies to address research questions of interest; confidentiality of the information is assured by established safeguards. When a research question is identified and the appropriate approvals from the UCSF Committee on Human Research are in place, this data base provides a starting point for development of information specific to the research project. When the research project is completed, the information gathered is linked to the current data base so that future researchers can build on the information from past studies. This data base was formally established in 1999 and is collecting information prospectively. Wherever possible, historical data are also being added.

Publications & Grant Writing

Ilona Garner, Director of Communications

This divison provides editorial consultation to Department of Neurological Surgery residents and faculty writing research papers or book chapters for publication and grant proposals for submission to federal and other agencies. It is also responsible for developing and publishing the Department's newsletter and the Web site.