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BTP Quarterly Update

June 17, 2019

The mission of the University of Minnesota Brain Tumor Program (UMBTP) is to continually distinguish itself as a national leader in the field of neuro-oncology by combining the principles of outstanding clinical care and education with cutting edge research.

The group consists of many dedicated researchers and clinicians of numerous disciplines and specialties. These disciplines and specialties include - but are not limited to - cancer genetics, neuro-oncology, neurosurgery, pharmacy, biomedical engineering, and veterinary medicine. 

Here's what we've been up to for the last few months:
Elizabeth Neil, MD participated in the INFINITY Hardwood Heroes Basketball Game benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer on April 5, 2019. This was highlighted in the following articles: "Brain cancer patient and his doctor connect on the basketball court as teammates" on the MHealth website and "Hitting the Hardwood for Cancer Research" on the Medical School website. In addition, this was highlighted in the following videos: " 'Hardwood Heroes' Play Million Dollar Basketball Game" on WCCO 4 News and "Infinity and the Hardwood Heroes will keep shooting until cancer is defeated" on the NCAA website. 
Clark Chen, MD, PhD was highlighted in a 5 EyeWitness News video "Clinical trial at U of M brings hope to one cancer patient," May 29, 2019. 
David Odde, PhD and Elizabeth Neil, MD were highlighted in an article, "Engineers and clinicians collaborate to combat cancer," on the College of Science & Engineering website about the Physical Sciences Oncology Network's Brain Tumor Working Group meeting held on May 30, 2019.


David Odde, PhD, gave a talk entitled "Simulating cell migration mechanics" at the "Physical Science of Cancer" Gordon Research Conference, Galveston, TX, February 10-15, 2019.

Matt Hunt, MD, FRCS, gave presentation entitled "CD200 Inhibition Enhanced the Anti-glioblastoma Effects of Autologous Tumor Vaccination for In Vivo Murine and Canine Glioblastoma models" at the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) Meeting that was chosen for the AANNS/CNS Section on Tumors Neuro-Oncology Trainee Award, San Diego, CA, April 2019. 

Several BTP Members attended and presented at the 2019 Genome Writer's Guild Meeting in Ames, IA, April 2019:
  • Kyle Williams, PhD, gave presentation entitled "Engineering clinically relevant mutations into a disease specific cell type proves useful for therapeutics discovery in Neurofibromatosis Type-1 related cancers"
  • Julia Nikrad won the best poster award for her poster on "CRISPR/Cas9 Screen for Synthetic Lethality in NF1-deficient Cells"
  • Garrett Draper, CMB Graduate Student, presented a poster entitled, "Validation of novel NF1-dependent synthetic lethal drug targets using RNAi and Ribonucleoproteins"
  • Bryant Keller, PhD Candidate, presented a poster entitled "Systematic Targeting of Physical and Genetic Vulnerabilities in Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors (MPNST) and Neurofibromas"
  • Alex Larsson presented a poster entitled, "Combination synergy of epigenetic modulating compounds and FDA approved drugs reveals selective killing of highly aggressive tumor cells in an NF1 background"
  • Sara Osum presented a poster entitled "Using a genetically engineered minipig to investigate the role of haploinsufficient fibroblasts in neurofibroma pathogenesis"
David Largaespada, PhD, gave an overview of model systems for tudy of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors at a Boston Children's Hospital sponsored event on April 28th, 2019. 

Chris Moertel, MD, gave an oral presentation entitled "Targeting the CD200 checkpoint to enhance immunotherapy for CNS tumors" at the SNO Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Basic and Translational Research Conference, San Francisco, CA, May 3-4, 2019. 


Sara Osum received a UMN Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Award.

Elizabeth Pluhar received a National Institutes of Health NINDS SBIR grant for work on "Catheter for Large Volume Intraparenchymal Brain Therapies."

Elizabeth Pluhar received a National Institutes of Health NINDS SBIR grant for work on "Cerebral Spinal Fluid Shunt System with Dual Lumen Distal Catheter Redundancy to Minimize Revision Surgery."

Okay Saydam received one of the Biomedical Research Awards for Interdisciplinary New Science (BRAINS) for work on "Analysis of stem cell-derived extracellular vesicle targeting to sites of tissue damage and cancer."


Erkan EP, Saydam N, Chen CC, Saydam O. "Extracellular Vesicles as Carriers of Suicide mRNA and/or Protein in Cancer Therapy." Methods Mol Biol. 2019; 1895: 87-96.

Slipek NJ, Varshney J, Largaespada DA. "CRISPR/Cas9-Based Positive Screens for Cancer-Related Traits." Methods Mol Biol. 2019; 1907: 137-144.

Olin MR, Ampudia-Mesias E, Pennell CA, Sarver A, Chen CC, Moertel CL, Hunt MA, Pluhar GE. "Treatment Combining CD200 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor and Tumor-Lysate Vaccination after Surgery for Pet Dogs with High-Grade Glioma." Cancers (Basel). 2019 Jan 24; 11 (2). pii. E137.

Beckmann PJ, Larson JD, Larsson AT, Ostergaard JP, Wagner S, Rahrmann EP, Shamsan GA, Otto GM, Williams RL, Wang J, Lee C, Tschida BR, Das P, Dubuc AM, Moriarity BS, Picard D, Wu X, Rodriguez FJ, Rosemarie Q, Krebs RD, Molan AM, Demer AM, Frees MM, Rizzardi AE, Schmechel SC, Eberhart CG, Jenkins RB, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Odde DJ, Huang A, Taylor MD, Sarver AL, Largaespada DA. "Sleeping Beauty Insertional Mutagenesis Reveals Important Genetic Drivers of Central Nervous System Embryonal Tumors." Cancer Res. 2019 Mar 1; 79 (5): 905-917.

Vasquez CA, Moen SL, Juliano MJ, Jagadeesan BD, Pluhar GE, Chen CC, Grande AW. "Development of a Novel Canine Model of Ischemic Stroke: Skull Base Approach with Transient Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion." World Neurosurg. 2019 Mar 19; pii: S1878-8750 (19) 30750-8.

Ramkissoon A, Chaney KE, Milewski D, Williams KB, Williams RL, Choi K, Miller A, Kalin TV, Pressey JG, Szabo S, Azam M, Largaespada DA, Ratner N. "Targeted Inhibition of the Dual Specificity Phosphatases DUSP1 and DUSP6 Suppress MPNST Growth via JNK." Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Apr 1.

Branzoli F, Pontoizeau C, Tchara L, Di Stefano AL, Kamoun A, Deelchand DK, Valabregue R, Lehericy S, Sanson M, Ottolenghi C, Marjanska M. "Cystathionine as a marker for 1p/19q codeleted gliomas by in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy." Neuro Oncol. 2019 June 10; 21 (6): 765-774.

Past Events

The Physical Sciences Oncology Network held a Brain Tumor Workshop on May 30, 2019.

Upcoming Events

July 11 - BTP Data Club, Pauline Beckmann, PhD
August 8 - BTP Data Club, Can Ozutemiz, MD
September 12 - BTP Data Club, TBD

Highlights & Recognitions

David Odde, PhD was elected co-chair of the 2023 Gordon Research Conference "Physical Sciences of Cancer" meeting

David Odde, PhD was elected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE)
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