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Panelist: Kenneth J. Cohen, MD, MBA
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Kenneth J. Cohen, MD, MBA

Kenneth J. Cohen, MD, MBA

Director, Pediatric Neuro-Oncology 

Johns Hopkins University SOM

Dr. Cohen is the Director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology and the Clinical Director in the Division of Pediatric Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.  He received his undergraduate degree at Brown University, completed medical school at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.  He did his general Pediatric Residency and Chief Residency at the University of Colorado.  He completed his Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins and has been a member of the faculty since 1994.  Dr. Cohen is the co-chair of the High-Grade Glioma committee for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). He is the Chief Medical Officer and head of the Scientific Advisory Board for Solving Kid’s Cancer.  He is a Scientific Advisor for the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation. 

His research has focused on a few critical areas in the treatment and management of children with brain tumors.  The first is an extension of his role as the chair of the high-grade glioma committee for COG.  High-grade infiltrating astrocytomas remain one of the most challenging tumor types to treat in people of all ages with very poor survival seen.  Dr. Cohen studies the most novel agents, often being used for the first time in children with brain tumors, in an effort to determine if these new therapeutics offer benefit to the group of children.  This is accomplished by Dr. Cohen crafting multi-institutional research studies that provide children at select centers throughout the United States to have access to agents rarely available to children with these high risk brain tumors.

A second area of research is in the development of novel treatment designs that allow investigators to make educated decisions about the utility of various new drugs in the treatment of children with brain tumors.  Historically, when a drug is first developed, it undergoes a series of clinical experiments to determine whether, at the end of a number of studies, responses are seen in children with various brain tumors.  Often 50-100 children are required to answer that question, and regrettably, in most cases the agents turns out not to be very effective.  Dr. Cohen is developing novel experimental designs that allows an agent to be tested in very small numbers of children (often in the range of 10 children) in an effort to make “go/no-go” decisions about the utility of an agent without unnecessarily subjecting numerous children to an agent that has a high likelihood of not proving effective.  This is a much more prudent use of patient’s time and energy with a much higher likelihood of rapidly determining which drugs deserve further study. 

A third area of research is related to a very rare brain tumor type called a pilomyxoid astrocytoma which is a variant of the more familiar pilocytic astrocytoma.  This variant was originally discovered by investigators at Johns Hopkins and Dr. Cohen is trying to catalogue the natural history, response to various treatments and range of outcomes for children with this very rare brain tumor subtype.

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