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Research Core Facility
Home > Neurosurgery Research > Research Core Facility
Research Services: Scientific Core
The Scientific Core has been developed to include Core Support Services that are required by the research units within the department. The Core Support Services are Research Administration and Scientific Core Facilities: the Tissue Bank, the Molecular Marker Laboratory, the Animal Model Laboratory, and Biostatistics. Other research services are also detailed in this section. We have established a Core Committee, composed of the Core Laboratory Directors and assistants, faculty representatives from the Neurological Surgery and the Neuropathology Departments, and the Tissue Bank Manager and assistant. The Core Committee meets twice each month to establish and review policy, to resolve problems, and to address evolving issues relating to the Tissue Bank and other Core activities.
Research Administration
MaryAnne Woo , Manager, Research Administration, Contact 415-476-3923
Norma Shipp, Research Accounting Supervisor
Kimberly Cantero, Research Services Analyst
Bernadette Cuenco, Research Services Analyst
Karen Omoto, Research Services Analyst
Winnie Chau, Neuro-Oncology Research Services Analyst
Amoy Injo, Facilities/Purchasing/Ledger Reconciliation
Chris McMonigle, Facilities/Purchasing/Ledger Reconciliation
The Research Administration Unit is responsible for all pre-award and post-award management of all extramural funding sources within the Department of Neurological Surgery. This includes federal, foundation, private sources, gifts, and industry awards. The BTRC's largest source of funding is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Research Administration provides financial and administrative services for principal investigators, BTRC associates, co-investigators, postgraduate researchers, nurses, staff research associates, and residents. This group has developed a dedicated team of Research Services Analysts (RSA’s) and Administrative Assistants who ensure that all departmental researchers are provided with quality, efficient, responsive, and responsible research administration services.
Tissue Bank
Cynthia Cowdrey, Manager
King Chiu, Staff Research Associate

The Tissue Bank began collecting tissue from neurosurgical operations in 1978 and has established an organized repository of characterized tissues that have been collected and maintained in a manner useful for a wide range of studies. Copies of each patient's consent to donate their tissue for research are maintained in a secure area of the Tissue Bank. Clinical data from each case are logged into a secured computer data base. Tissue received into the Tissue Bank is catalogued and referenced by a consecutive numbering system in order to maintain patients' confidentiality.
Researchers submit a request form to the Manager to obtain samples. This form requires an explanation of the tissue requested (type, number of samples, justification), description of the study, CHR approval and Project Leader authorization. Requests for tissue array slides are also received by the Tissue Bank Manager. Each request is reviewed for feasibility by the Manager and for research conflict and priority by a member of the Scientific Core Committee.
It has proven essential to establish a priority hierarchy for tissue distribution to guarantee that researchers are able to fulfill their grant commitments. This also guards against problems with potentially conflicting studies. Our distribution priorities are in the following order: BTRC, UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF, and outside investigators. Within each category, preference is given to projects described in funded grants. Where there is conflict, the earlier approval date takes preference. After the tissue request has been approved, tissue is prepared as requested. Before distribution tissue portions are sectioned and stained with H&E. A neuropathologist reviews these histological slides to verify the pathology in the sample distributed. To date, we have been able to fill requests for studies in a variety of fields.
We have established a complete histology service including tissue processing, embedding, sectioning and H&E staining for fixed tissues, in addition to creating and staining frozen sections. This facility enables the Tissue Bank to support research needs for fixed samples from animal model experiments, to fulfill requests for paraffin sections from diagnostic samples and to provide frozen sections for histologic review.
Monthly reports are issued informing all clinical and research Project Leaders of the numbers of cases collected, pathologic diagnoses, quantity of tissue collected and labeling indices, if performed. Annual reports are also issued listing quantities of each diagnosis type collected and the distribution history of samples during the previous year.
A major portion of the Tissue Bank activities are supported by competitive, peer-reviewed grants, such as the BTRC's Program Project and Brain Tumor SPORE grants, with supplemental funding from individual foundation awards. The Tissue Bank, which has frozen samples from over 4500 cases collected since 1978, is located at UCSF on the 7th floor of the Health Sciences West building (HSW-771).
For more information, visit:
Molecular Morphology Laboratory
Scott R. VandenBerg 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
C. David James, PhD, Director
Tomoko Ozawa, MD, PhD, Specialist

The Animal Model Core provides training in the use of various in vivo brain tumor models, including the well-known 9L rat brain tumor model and several human xenograft models. Training includes implantation of the tumor, delivery of substances systemically or locally and monitoring of the animals.
Kathleen R. Lamborn, PhD
Dr. Lamborn provides statistical input as co-investigator on many of the research projects. With the development of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, additional support in the area of Biostatistics has also become available through the Cancer Center Biostatistics Core.
Neuro-Oncology Data Management
Valerie Kivett, Data Manager
Rupa Parvataneni, Data Manager
Jessica Foft, Data Manager
Teresa Urquhart, Data Manager
Emily Hsieh, Data Manager

The Neuro-Oncology data managers 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. Data coordinators 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. Data managers review eligibility with the Clinical Nurse Specialists and Principal Investigators.
The Neuro-Oncology data base 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
Nataliya Volskaya, 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, Senior Editor
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, Brain Activity, and the Web site.
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