We take a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to understanding and treating brain cancer. Our excellence in patient care is both supported and advanced through our extensive program in basic, translational, and clinical research.

Aside from the many clinical trials that are currently ongoing or being developed at UCSF, we are home to 25 research laboratories, each focused on a unique aspect of brain tumor risk, biology, diagnosis, and treatment.


Cell Signaling
Cancers can arise from alterations to the complex signaling pathways controlling cell division, cell death, and cell motility. Understanding how specific pathways are disrupted in brain tumors may lead to targeted therapies.
Developmental Biology
Understanding the basic mechanisms underlying normal developmental processes (like cell division, differentiation, and migration) in the brain can provide insight into how those same pathways are dysregulated or co-opted during tumorigenesis.
Convection enhanced delivery for brain tumors
UCSF has pioneered innovations in local drug delivery to brain tumors, including recent improvements to an experimental technique called convection-enhanced delivery.
DNA microarrays
With cancer being a fundamental disease of the genome, analysis of tumor DNA and RNA may aid our understanding of brain tumor types and what causes them.
Brain tumor immunotherapy
Some brain cancers are able to evade immune surveillance, and immunotherapy research seeks to activate and help the body’s own immune system to better target and attack tumor cells. CAR-T cell therapy and vaccines are among the strategies currently being developed.
Neuroepidemiology at UCSF
Neuroepidemiology is the study of the incidence, distribution, causes, and control of neurological disease in a population. We leverage large, population-wide datasets to identify and examine risk factors, both genetic and environmental, for brain cancer.
Advanced physiologic imaging helps localize tumors for surgical resection, and noninvasively provides information about the tumor that might guide diagnosis and treatment. The development and improvement of new diagnostic techniques could have enormous impact on patient care.
Pediatric brain tumor research
Our pediatric brain tumor research spans multiple research specialties, with a particular focus on understanding how the brain develops and finding new treatments for pediatric brain tumors.
Translational Research at the Brain Tumor Center
The classic bench-to-bedside approach aims to convert basic science discoveries into practical application and novel therapies for patients.
Biomedical Statistics and Informatics
The Division of Biomedical Statistics & Informatics in the UCSF Department of Neurosurgery is involved in a variety of projects related to brain tumor research.
metabolic imaging

This year marked the ninth cycle of Program Project Grant funding for the UCSF Brain Tumor Center from the NIH. The Center’s first Program Project Grant was awarded in 1979 to study the biology and therapy of malignant brain tumors.

UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Research Building
Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs), designated and funded by the National Cancer Institute since 1992, are intended to promote translational research focused on an organ-specific human cancer. UCSF is one of six institutions to be awarded a SPORE grant for brain tumors.
The UCSF Wolfe Meningioma Program Project brings together UCSF’s leading clinicians and scientists to solve the problems that currently limit our ability to understand meningioma biology and provide more effective therapy to meningioma patients.