Frederick F. Lang, M.D.
Glioblastoma Moon Shot
About Dr. Lang
Frederick Lang, M.D., chair of Neurosurgery, is a leader in the field of neurosurgery, with a particular focus on deep seated brain tumors located in eloquent brain regions. He leads the Lang Laboratory, a clinical and translational research laboratory focused on developing novel gene-, viral- and stem cell-based therapies. He is the principal investigator for MD Anderson’s Brain Cancer SPORE grant. Lang is also a co-leader of the Glioblastoma Moon Shot® team, which is working to save the lives of patients through new therapies and better treatment approaches.
Fighting Cancer: It's Personal
What’s your Moon Shots focus?
We’ve organized ourselves into three goals across the translational continuum: Discover, Develop and Deploy. These goals all work to complement and inform one another. Within the Discover theme, we are trying to identify the molecular drivers and novel vulnerabilities in glioblastoma that can lead us to new therapeutic targets. Under Develop, we seek to create new therapeutic approaches against these target vulnerabilities and robustly vet these approaches so that only the most promising are advanced to clinical trials. And within our Deploy goal, we undertake specialize biopsy-driven, window-of-opportunity clinical trials that prove the efficacy and safety of our new agents early in the clinical development pipeline.
What makes the Moon Shots Program stand out?
The Moon Shots Program has been critical to create opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking and for funding highly innovative projects that we probably wouldn't have been able to support in the past. We have been able to secure NIH funding and our group holds a SPORE in Brain Cancer, but the Moon Shots Program gives us a chance to explore less conventional strategies and to do large scale analyses requiring multidisciplinary teams of experts.
What motivates and excites you?
Working as part of a highly motivate and focused team, we have recently launched the CATALYST program, a prospective milti-omic tissue analysis pipeline, whose aim is to molecularly profile every tumor undergoing surgical resection with the hope of learning from each patient. We have also implemented a CNS-focused preclinical drug development program, ACCELERATE, which will increase our therapeutic repertoire. Most importantly, we have moved several agents from our laboratories into compelling trials that are in progress or will launch soon. We are excited that we have moved these strategies from ideas to actual implementation through coordinated teamwork that defines our Moon Shot ethos. We are motivated by the possibility that these strategies will help our patients.
What makes your fight against cancer personal?
These patients are dealing with a life or death situation. We all know people or have family members who have cancer. To be a part of their lives and to help them through my profession is rewarding.
What do you hope to accomplish?
The prognosis for patients with glioblastoma is poor and the survival is not long, but more problematic is the fact that the outlook has not changed a great deal in the past 30 years. We hope to change this dismal outlook and to come up with therapies that actually cure this disease and reduce the suffering of the nearly 20,000 people who are diagnosed with glioblastoma each year.
What else do you want people to know about you and your work?
My team and I get up every day with one goal in mind: to do our very best to help patients with glioblastoma either by treating an individual patient or by working in the laboratory to find a yet undiscovered therapy.