The PLGA Foundation established the Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytoma Program (PLGA Program) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2007.  The purpose of the Program is to find more effective, less toxic treatments and a cure for children battling brain tumors.

This is the only dedicated pediatric low-grade glioma Program in the world, and has has grown into a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional Program, with collaborations initiated internally at Dana-Farber, nationally with other institutions in America, and internationally in Europe.

Under the leadership of Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, and Charles Stiles, PhD, the Program has become the standard bearer for the research and care of pediatric brain tumors and helped make Dana-Farber one of the nation’s top ranking pediatric cancer hospitals. Dr. Stiles stepped down from his position as Scientific Director in January 2018.  We are forever grateful to Dr. Stiles for his years of leadership.  New Scientific Director, Dr. Rosalind Segal will continue to work closely with Dr. Kieran to build on the tremendous knowledge that has been gained over the past ten years.

The PLGA Program has a multifaceted approach to research.  While funding projects in the basic science arena is critical to the success of finding more effective treatments and a cure, the Program takes a unique approach and has a turbo-charged agenda to identify targeted drug therapies that will impact tumor growth.   Drug development for pediatric diseases ( especially brain cancer) has NEVER seen this type of energy and productivity in the past and this is what makes the PLGA Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute truly unique and effective.

Since its inception, The PLGA Program has inititated several landmark projects including an international tissue bank, the invention and launching of three new clinical diagnostic tests based on discoveries by the researchers of the Program, and three national clinical trials—more clinical trials for this disease than ever before.  These efforts have further kick-started funding, collaboration, and partnerships, accelerating advances in research, diagnosis, and treatment.


Piechart showing the breakdown of pediatric glioma types in our Program tissue bank, with low-grade astocytomas being the most common form of childhood brain cancer.


Pediatric brain tumors have surpassed leukemia as the most common cause of cancer-related death in children,  hence the need for dedicated research and clinical trial programs such as ours.  Low-grade tumors represent the most common form of pediatric brain tumors, and discoveries made in this field may prove useful to finding therapies for other types of childhood brain cancers.

The PLGA Program has expanded since 2007, taking on a wider range of scientific priorities including determining the causes of PLGA.  Drs. Kieran and Segal now oversee a team of principal investigators whose research focus is pediatric brain cancers.  Explore our site to find out more about our research areas and clinical trials.