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.

Neuroepidemiology research can also provide insight into brain tumor treatment. As brain tumors are relatively rare, and highly variable with regards to progression, recurrence, and response to therapy, it is often difficult to predict how effective a particular treatment will be. Studying large, well-characterized population samples can provide more information and help inform treatment decisions. 

Recent neuroepidemiology research at UCSF includes a massive study of malignant glioma, conducted in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. Analyzing genetic and clinical data from 1,087 patients and 11,590 healthy controls, we found three genetic markers that identify different glioma subtypes with different survival times and prognoses. Since then, two of these genetic variants, designated as “IDH-mutant” and “1p/19q-codeleted,” have been accepted by clinicians and incorporated into the most recent update of classification guidelines (2016 WHO Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System), for distinguishing certain glioma subtypes. This is the first time that the WHO Classification system takes into account both genetic and histological criteria for identifying brain tumor subtypes.


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