Advancing Research


The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's PLGA Fund accelerates the pace of scientific discovery and drug development for children with low-grade gliomas and astrocytomas.

Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGG) are the most common type of brain tumor diagnosed in children. Although these tumors grow more slowly than high-grade brain tumors, about half of PLGG patients who undergo surgery will relapse and require additional treatments.

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s PLGA Fund supports research dedicated to pediatric low-grade gliomas and astrocytomas (the most common type of PLGG). Over the past decade, our funding and strategic leadership have helped:

  • secure multi-million-dollar grants from the National Cancer Institute to super-charge research efforts
  • improve doctors’ understanding of what causes pediatric low-grade gliomas and makes some types more aggressive than others
  • discover and develop multiple treatments being used in clinics today

We also fund and advocate for PLGG survivorship research to improve patients’ long-term survival and quality of life.

The research we fund wouldn't exist without the generosity of donors. Email us to learn how you can support the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's efforts to fund pediatric low-grade glioma research or donate online right now to make sure progress doesn't stop.

Support for PLGG Families

Find Support

PLGG/PLGA Facebook Group

PLGG/PLGA Facebook Group

In this Facebook group, you can ask questions, share your experiences, and find support from other families impacted by pediatric low-grade gliomas and astrocytomas.

Video: PLGG Types & Treatments

Video: PLGG Types & Treatments

Learn about common pediatric low-grade glioma types and treatments in this on-demand webinar featuring Dr. Tab Cooney, Medical Director of Day One Biopharmaceuticals.

For Researchers
Caucasian Scientists use microscopes to research the covid-19 virus vaccine in a medical laboratory. Doctor uses biotechnology to research coronavirus in chemistry lab. Pharmaceutical science.

For Researchers

The PLGA Fund awards grants for pediatric low-grade glioma and astrocytoma research on an ongoing basis. Learn how to apply for funding.

PLGA Fund Scientific Advisors

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation established the PLGA Fund to continue the work of A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure, following the organizations’ merger in 2018. We work with research and drug development experts to assess gaps in the scientific community’s understanding of pediatric low-grade gliomas and astrocytomas, vet new project proposals, and add diverse insights that inspire the researchers we fund to think creatively and collaboratively when overcoming challenges. The PLGA Fund’s advisors include six members of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Research Advisory Network and the following internal scientific advisors.

Evan Hecker, Ph.D., Ikena Oncology

Evan Hecker, Ph.D. is currently the Senior Vice President and Head of CMC at Ikena Oncology. Prior to joining Ikena, he held roles of increasing responsibility in manufacturing and development at Spero Therapeutics and was the Director of Process Chemistry at Karyopharm Therapeutics where he led API development across their oncology portfolio.

Evan started his career in drug development at Cubist Pharmaceuticals after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He received his B.S. in chemistry from The College of New Jersey and worked briefly in the pharmaceutical industry before returning to school to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

He and his wife Cara have three very active young boys, and Evan has supported the mission of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation since his eldest son, Nathan, was diagnosed with a low-grade tumor at 4 years old. He is eager to help leverage his drug industry experience and network to accelerate any and all research the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation supports and is committed to finding better drugs and outcomes for kids with brain tumors.

Cory Johannessen, Ph.D., Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research

Cory Johannessen, Ph.D. is the Global Co-Leader of Oncology Innovative Targets and Technologies (IT&T) at the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research in Cambridge MA. In this role, Cory supports novel target and biology discovery for oncology indications, as well as technology development in service of target discovery and validation.

Prior to taking this leadership role, Cory led a research lab focused on understanding the genetic underpinnings of drug resistance and identifying drug combinations that prevent it in the Cancer Program at the Broad Institute. There, Cory’s deeply collaborative research team helped develop and apply functional-genetic tools for biological discovery, including next-generation barcoding libraries, saturation mutagenesis techniques and genome-scale ORF/cDNA libraries.

Cory completed his postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Levi Garraway’s lab from 2008-2011, and was an Instructor of Medicine from 2011-2014, concentrating on understanding mechanisms of resistance to RAF, MEK and ERK inhibitors in BRAF-mutant melanoma. Cory completed his dissertation in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (Ph.D.) Program at Harvard Medical School with Karen Cichowski, focusing on identifying rational, targeted therapeutics for the cancer syndrome neurofibromatosis type I (NF1). Before beginning graduate school, Cory was a technician in Leif Ellison’s lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

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