Columbia Researchers Present Advances in Pediatric Brain Tumors

June 6, 2022

This year’s 20th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology, the major international pediatric neuro-oncology meeting, is taking place from June 12-15 in Hamburg, Germany. Columbia pediatric brain tumor researchers will have six presentations (one oral and five poster presentations) on topics ranging from single-cell sequencing and immune response to computational network-based approaches for drug identification, disparities and diversity studies, and drug delivery with focused ultrasound (FUS) and convection enhanced delivery (CED). The focused ultrasound and CED abstracts originate from the Initiative for Drug Delivery Innovation (IDDI), which was founded by Dr. Stergios Zacharoulis, and is now being co-led by radiation oncologist Dr. Fred Wu and pediatric oncologist Dr. Luca Szalontay. Pediatric oncologists Drs. Robyn Gartrell, Jovana Pavisic, James Garvin, and Justine Kahn are senior or co-authors of the other abstracts to be presented at the meeting, and hematology/oncology fellow Dr. Andrea Webster is one of the lead authors. 

"We are excited to have developed a multidisciplinary team at Columbia combining expertise in systems biology, immuno-oncology, drug delivery, and preclinical disease models," says Dr. Gartrell. This team is working to discover novel molecular drug targets, personalized therapies, and immunotherapies precisely delivered to the tumor with innovative technologies to bypass the blood brain barrier. "Our goal is to cure the most difficult-to-treat pediatric cancers like diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the deadliest of childhood brain tumors," notes Dr. Pavisic. "Members of the IDDI have rapidly translated findings from the lab into two ongoing clinical trials for DIPG, providing much-needed hope for children and families fighting this devastating disease," adds Dr. Szalontay, clinical investigator on the studies.