Butterfly release to mark second annual Ependymoma Awareness Day

Memphis, Tennessee, April 15, 2013

Ependymoma Awareness

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the CERN Foundation host event to bring attention to a rare brain tumor that strikes both children and adults

Hundreds of brightly colored butterflies will dot the skies over St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as they are released by patients, scientists and doctors to mark the second annual Ependymoma Awareness Day, April 18. Ependymoma is a rare cancer of the brain or spinal cord that strikes children and adults. The event is organized by the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network Foundation (CERN).

CERN’s scientists and clinicians work in concert to better understand and speed advances against ependymoma in both pediatric and adult patients. St. Jude leads the pediatric studies, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center leads the adult studies.

The butterfly release will coincide with the semi-annual CERN investigator meeting at St. Jude. The butterfly release symbolizes the buoyed hope of improved treatments for this devastating cancer through collaboration.

“Through this team science approach, talented researchers are uniting in one cause that studies ependymoma from the laboratory to the clinic and across the life span,” said Richard Gilbertson, M.D., Ph.D., Comprehensive Cancer Center director at St. Jude and co-principal investigator of CERN. “Our collaboration with CERN is a natural extension of St. Jude’s cornerstone philosophy to freely share research and discoveries as a means to advance cures worldwide.”

CERN began in 2006 to jumpstart ependymoma research globally. Since then, more than 20 institutions have joined the endeavor. More than 80 patients have been enrolled in CERN clinical trials and discoveries in the laboratory are fueling progress.

Ependymomas account for 3 to 6 percent of all tumors of the central nervous system. The overall five-year survival rate is greater than 80 percent. However, new and innovative treatments are needed to reduce side effects from the cancer and its treatment as well as to help those patients who relapse.

“Our hope with Ependymoma Awareness Day is to increase public recognition of this rare tumor and the need for clinical studies to improve early diagnosis, standardize treatment and improve the health status of those living with this disease,” said Mark Gilbert, M.D., the medical director and principal investigator of CERN.

More than a dozen city and state governments have shown their support by issuing proclamations naming April 18 Ependymoma Awareness Day.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow the hospital on Twitter and Instagram at @stjuderesearch.

The Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network

The Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) is a dedicated group of scientists and adult and pediatric neuro-oncologists working in concert to find a cure for ependymoma, a type of brain tumor. Members are chosen for their scholarly excellence and their commitment to cooperative research efforts. CERN members are in constant communication and collaboration, thereby sharing their latest research findings and clinical outcomes. In addition to CERN members, the foundation is comprised of both an external and scientific advisory board. This unique endeavor, formed to find a cure for ependymoma, is made possible through 100 percent philanthropic support. For more information, visit www.cern-foundation.org. Follow us on Twitter @CERNfoundation.