Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD

Sally S. Morley Designated Professor in Brain Tumor Research
School of Medicine
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
School of Medicine
Associate Director for Data Sciences
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Director for Translational Informatics
Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology
Cleveland Center for Health Outcomes Research
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
School of Medicine

BETRNet Roles: PRVB Core Co-Leader, Admin Core Statistician, Project 2 Co-Investigator

Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan is a multi-disciplinary researcher trained in biostatistics, population genetics, and human genetics. Her role in team science has been essential for multiple, successful multi-disciplinary research projects. She is the PI of the Ohio Brain Tumor Study (OBTS), which has served as a multi-site tissue source site for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). She is also the scientific PI of the Central Brain Tumor Registry for the United States (CBTRUS). She has extensive experience with multi-site, brain tumor, patient recruitment and biospecimen collection, storage, and clinical annotation. She has multiple roles in the Case Western (CWRU) School of Medicine and the University Hospitals Health System (UHHS), which all focus on optimizing the use of data and analytics to advance health care.

At CWRU she is the Associate Director for Data Sciences at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Associate Director for Translational Informatics for the Cleveland Institute of Computational Biology. In these roles, she advances research endeavors by advocating for and assisting researchers in obtaining access to and using large health datasets (publicly available or controlled access) to answer research questions. Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan also aids investigators in the use of secure database infrastructure needed for human subjects’ research, the implementation of robust study designs, as well as the interpretation of results. These efforts aim to reduce the burden and barriers researchers may encounter in gaining access to and analyzing “big data”, enabling them to think about and perform research that has previously not been pursued.

As the Director for Research Health Analytics and Informatics at UHHS, she facilitates access to and analysis of UHHS data. Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan’s efforts focus on aiding clinicians in utilizing “big data” to impact clinical outcomes modeling that can drive both health operations and clinical decision making.

Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan is also Director of the Cleveland Center for Health Outcomes Research (CCHOR), which was established in the summer of 2018. The goal of the CCHOR is to integrate, innovate, and optimize the use of “big data”.  CCHOR facilitates access to datasets and helps support analysis to test hypotheses and drive discoveries, facilitating understanding and impact on health.

Together, all of these roles draw upon her extensive experience in hypothesis development, study design and statistical analysis for studies of various phenotypes in humans and animals, and analysis of all types of high throughput “omics” and clinical outcomes data.  

Research Information

Research Projects

The Ohio Brain Tumor Study (OBTS)

The Ohio Brain Tumor Study Logo

The Ohio Brain Tumor Study (OBTS) is a prospective study of primary benign and malignant brain tumor patients from the four major academic centers in the state of Ohio: The Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) and University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC), Rose Ella Burkhardt Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at the Cleveland Clinic, the Dardinger Neuro-oncology Center and the Department of Neurosurgery at the James Cancer Hospital and Ohio State University Medical Center, and the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati. Our primary aim is to objectively characterize subtypes of primary benign and malignant brain tumors using genetic and environmental exposure information and associate these with clinical outcomes. All newly diagnosed primary malignant and benign patients are identified at each center and consented for study. From each patient we obtain the following: blood sample (for DNA, RNA, plasma and mononuclear cells), snap-frozen tumor tissue within 15-30 minutes of resection (for DNA and RNA) or re-cuts of formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) tumor tissue (for DNA), interview/questionnaire data, medical chart review and active yearly follow-up for clinical outcomes. This protocol forms a new brain tumor genetic epidemiology research consortia between the four major academic centers in the State of Ohio accruing eligible subjects to the first prospective accrual study of genetics of brain tumors and outcome in Ohio.

Since the inception of OBTS, several pilot grants have been awarded to Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan from Case CCC and Clinical & Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC).  The statewide OBTS network has been utilized as tissue source network for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) http://cancergenome.nih.gov/ and as the basis for a population science project for the Ohio Brain Tumor SPORE application.

Director, Biostatistics Core
In September 2011, the Case CCC was awarded a research grant to establish a GI SPORE- GI Cancers Research Center at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). With this designation, CWRU joins only six other nationally recognized GI SPORE Centers of Excellence in the country. Researchers from CWRU, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic, all members of the Cancer Center, collaborate in the research effort. The GI SPORE team intends to battle these diseases by developing new tests to identify individuals who are susceptible to these cancers; new molecular tests to pick up cancers and pre-cancers in the early curable stages; new drugs for prevention of these cancers; and new treatment approaches, with particular emphasis on discovery of new targets for blocking the metastatic spread of these cancers.

Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNet)
Director, Bioinformatics Core
This five-year award from the National Cancer Institute will support the BETRNet, which consists of multiple centers collaborating to develop an understanding of the basis of Barrett's esophagus and its conversion to esophageal carcinoma. Researchers will also work to determine the role genetics and environmental factors play in the development and progression of these diseases, with the ultimate goal of reducing the mortality associated with this deadly cancer.

Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS)
Scientific Principal Investigator https://academic.oup.com/neuro-oncology/issue/15/suppl_2
The Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) is a not-for-profit corporation established to provide a resource for descriptive statistical data on all primary brain tumors irrespective of behavior. The CBTRUS database contains the largest aggregation of population–based data on the incidence of all primary brain and central nervous system tumors in the United States. This database has been developed by compiling data from state cancer registries that include information on both malignant and non–malignant primary brain tumors.

Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan with her team works with CBTRUS staff to coordinate data acquisition, develop and manage data sets, and conduct data analyses. She also collaborates on interpreting and disseminating brain and central nervous system tumor data by producing statistical reports and scholarly publications, presentations, responding to data request, and developing grant applications for scientific utilization of the data sets.

Institute for Computational Biology (ICB)
Associate Director for Translational Informatics
The ICB will advance our fundamental knowledge of human biology through the application of computational methods to large and diverse datasets.  Further, the ICB will promote the translation of this knowledge into better diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prevention and delivery of healthcare.  Key elements of our mission include: (1) promoting collaboration through shared resources, (2) improving healthcare using electronic health records (EHR), (3) developing new methods to integrate and analyze Big Data, and (4) supporting educational opportunities in big data and the data sciences.

External Appointments

Director of Research Health Analytics and Informatics
University Hospitals Health Systems