Pediatric Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor Research

Specialists Work to Improve Patients' Outcomes

Children's is committed to excellence and innovation in pediatric brain tumor research. We actively participate in regional and national multi-institutional clinical trials and collaborative studies to improve the outcomes of children with brain tumors.


  • Barun Brahma, M.D., Tobey MacDonald, M.D. and researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University published ground-breaking brain tumor research in Nature. This new treatment approach uses nanotechnology to direct tumor cells outside of the brain where they can be captured and killed. Learn more.
    • Children's collaborates with the Georgia Institute of Technology after the University is awarded the Eureka Grant.
    • Reporter Newspapers interview Children's neurosurgeon, Dr. Brahma, about the exciting new research to remove brain tumors involving teams from Children's, Georgia Tech and Emory University School of Medicine.
  • Access to innovative treatment protocols through participation in the Children’s Oncology Group(COG)
  • Close affiliation with both Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute
  • One of only a few children’s healthcare systems participating in the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutic Investigator Consortium (POETIC)
  • Advanced technology and treatments, including pediatric neuropathology and neuroradiology, radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and blood and marrow transplantation (BMT)

Learn more about pediatric brain tumor research at Children's.

What is research?

Research means doing a study in order to learn something new or answer a question, then sharing the answers with others. Clinical research refers to studies on human patients. Pediatric cancer specialists have relied on clinical research to make great advances in treatment. Without families willing to participate in clinical research studies during treatment, it would be impossible to answer key questions about how to best treat children with cancer.

New research studies build on the results of past research studies and current treatments. Research studies are the building blocks of medical breakthroughs and cures.

Why is research important?

Research can help to improve the health, medical care and quality of people’s lives. Some examples include:

  • New drugs or therapies to help treat childhood cancer and other illnesses.
  • New ways to do surgery that are safer and help the body to heal more quickly.
  • New technology that helps find childhood cancer and other illnesses sooner.

Does my child have to participate?

Taking part in clinical research is always voluntary. Your child does not have to take part in a clinical research study to be treated at Children's. Your choice will not affect how the staff feels about or treats you or your child. Your child will still get the same quality of care.

Talk with your child, your child’s doctor, your family members and others before deciding to take part in research.

Types of clinical research

  • Clinical trials are research studies that involve a medical treatment. They provide a standard way (protocol) to treat a disease and collect information about how well the treatment works. Clinical trials try to learn more about the safety or success of a drug, device or medical procedure. The goal is to help improve care or even find a cure for an illness. Find a clinical trial
  • Registry studies do not involve treatment, they collect information or data. The information is collected from the medical record and may be put into a list (registry) that is shared with researchers outside of the Aflac Cancer Center.
  • Other nontherapeutic clinical research studies that do not involve treatment may include biology studies or studies that look at the psychosocial aspects of a disease or treatment.

How does my child benefit from clinical research?

Children treated on clinical trials may benefit by getting the:

  • Most up-to-date treatment available.
  • Close follow-up that clinical trials require.

But, there may not be a direct benefit to your child. Benefits will vary among different studies. In some cases, such as taking part in a registry, your child will not get any direct benefit. Instead, other children in the future may benefit from what is learned from your child’s data.

Some questions you may want to ask about a treatment include:

  • Which treatment do you advise and why?
  • What is the chance that the treatment will work?
  • How will we know if the treatment works?
  • What are the risks of the treatment?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • What do I need to do as a part of a research study that is different from the care my child would usually get?
  • How much will the treatment cost, and who pays for the cost?
  • How can I help prepare my child for the treatment?
  • What are other alternatives?