Annual Meeting of the Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation

2008 Annual Report

  1. Background

    In February, 2003, the Board established the Brain Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation. In March, 2004 the Foundation amended its Articles of Incorporation to change its name to Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation (Foundation) and to specify that its purpose is related to the effects of air pollution on brain tumors and lung cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to support research studies on the association between air pollution and brain and lung tumors, as well as research for the development of novel therapeutics for such tumors. To carry out its purpose, the Foundation has funded research projects investigating the links between air pollution and brain and lung tumors. The dollar amount of the funding provided to date is $3,707,590. The current projects are described below.

    Directors and Officers

    The Directors of the Foundation are: 

    Michael D. Antonovich, Chairman
    Dennis Yates, Vice Chairman
    Bill Campbell
    Josie Gonzales
    Dr. Thomas Godfrey

    The Foundation’s staff is:

    Barry Wallerstein, Chief Executive Officer
    Denise Whitcher, Secretary
    Lisa Virgo, Treasurer

  2. Report on the Foundation’s Activities 

    Current Research Projects 

    A. Grant BTAP003: “Brain Tumors and Air Pollution”
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Keith Black, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
    Funding: $1,500,000

    Based on the results of the initial research project with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Foundation Board approved this follow-up study. The project focuses on longer exposure periods to particulates and toxics. The exposures were conducted by the U.C. Irvine Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory. The project occurred over the period August, 2005 through June, 2008. 

    Laboratory rats were exposed to ambient ultra fine, fine, and coarse particulate matter for 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, and 10 months. After exposure, a number of assays for gene and protein expression were conducted. Changes in several of these assays were found after exposure. The investigators report that such changes, which were measured in whole brain tissue, are consistent with an inflammatory process and with the type of molecular changes related to development of benign and malignant brain tumors found in humans.

    The investigators hypothesize that the alterations in expression of several genes found after exposure may be involved in an early injury phase related to molecular pathways to tumor development. There were also several genes which were expressed at a higher level only after 10 months of particle exposure. As stated by the investigators, the genes examined are important for cell cytoskeleton protein changes that may later lead to alterations of normal cell movement, irregular cell division and uncontrolled proliferation that are found in malignant tumors. 

    Interestingly, the course particle exposed group showed the greatest changes when compared to animals exposed to fine and ultrafine particles.

    B. Grant BTAP004: “Brain Tumors and Air Pollution: Studies with Existing Data.
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Roberta McKean-Cowdin, USC School of Medicine
    Funding: $20,000

    Additional funding was awarded to USC to continue the study of exposures to air pollution and risk of brain tumors in children. This project is an add-on to the work done in BTAP002, and has incorporated the distance of residence of brain tumor patients to roadways into the previously collected data base. This data will be used to assess exposure to traffic emissions should additional funding become available.

    New Research Projects

    In 2008, the AQMD Governing Board allocated $1,500,000 to the Foundation to fund research projects. The Foundation Board approved funding for the following projects. The grant agreements are expected to be executed in the beginning of 2009.

    A.  Brain Tumors and Air Pollution
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Keith Black, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
    Approved Funding: $1,250,000

    In previous studies funded by the Foundation, the researchers discovered that the activities of several genes were altered in laboratory animals exposed to concentrated ambient particulate pollutants. These genes may play a significant role in the development of brain tumors. In the new study, a more detailed analysis at the molecular level will be conducted. Individual areas of the brain, as well as other organs, will be included to determine if there are specific tissue types that are affected by particulate matter exposures. The research will be done in collaboration with the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

    B. Childhood Brain Tumors and Air Pollution
    Principal Investigator: Roberta McKean-Cowdin, Ph.D., USC School of Medicine
    Approved Funding: $220,000

    In a preliminary epidemiologic investigation on the potential role of air pollution with brain tumor risk funded by the Foundation, the researchers found a significant association of risk of brain tumors in children and exposure to PM2.5. The study population included children between the ages of 0-5 years diagnosed with brain tumors from in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties from 1991 through 2002. This new study will conduct additional analyses including more detailed estimates of PM2.5 exposure based on geospatial extrapolations of monitoring data, and will also include distance of residential address from roadways as an estimate of exposure to traffic related pollutant emissions. The study population will be expanded to include data from the West Coast Childhood Brain Tumor study. The latter database includes children aged 1-19 years diagnosed with brain tumors in Los Angeles County from 1984 through 1991.

  3. Financial Report

    As of December 31, 2008, the Foundation had a cash balance of $1,501,234. Following is an accounting of the Foundation’s operations since its inception (7/23/03):

    Revenue from Operations


    $ 3,722,568

    Interest Income

    $ 23,600

    Total Revenue from Operations

    $ 3,746,168

    Operating Expenses

    Grants Awarded


    $ 2,059,250


    $ 178,340

    Corporation Filing Costs

    $ 820

    Bank charges


    Professional fees-audit

    $ 6,000

    Total Operating Expenses

    $ 2,244,934

    Cash Balance

    $ 1,501,234


  4. Plans for Upcoming Year

    The Foundation will continue monitoring the progress of existing research projects. The Foundation will evaluate new projects and provide funding to the extent that additional funds become available.

  5. Replacement of Foundation Director

    It is proposed that the Governing Board name Josie Gonzales to replace Foundation Director Gary Ovitt, who is no longer a member of the AQMD Governing Board.

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