Brain Tumor Program: A Translational Working Group


photo of hands shaped in brainA Leading Translational Neuro-Oncology Program

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 Bench-to-Bedside Approach

As a translational neuro-oncology program, the UMBTP accelerates the flow of information from basic science to the discovery of safer and more effective therapies for central nervous system (CNS) tumors.

This "bench-to-bedside" approach is made possible by the collaboration of strong, multidisciplinary teams who work towards a common goal - curing nervous system tumors using safer and more effective therapies.

A Multidisciplinary Team

The UMBTP 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.

Canine Brain Tumor Research

The Canine Brain Tumor Clinical Trial Program offers cutting edge therapy for dogs to preserve quality of life and improve long-term survival rates.  The information gathered from treating dogs is used to design similar treatments for people with brain tumors.

canine brain tumor researchAs the Director of the Canine Brain Tumor Program, Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar coordinates collaborations between the medical researchers and veterinarians to diagnose and treat brain tumors in dogs with breakthrough therapies.  She leads the Canine Brain Tumor Trials Program and enrolls pet dogs with spontaneous brain tumors into trials to assess novel therapies.  Eventually, those therapies that are effective in dogs will be translated to help people with brain tumors.

Current research projects

Dr. Moriarity and graduate student Barbara Tschida with a cage of experimental mice.

Ongoing Projects

Dr. Anindya Bagchi is modeling chromosomal abnormalities that can cause brain tumors and uncovering mechanisms of genetic susceptibility for glioma using mouse models.

Dr. Lynne Bemis is using extracellular RNA as a source of biomarkers for glioma detection.

Dr. Daniel Harki and Dr. David Ferguson are working on the design and synthesis of anticancer and immunostimulating drugs for brain tumor treatment.

Dr. Michael Olin is studying CD8+ T cell responses to brain tumors and effective vaccine strategies for brain tumors.

Dr. David Largaespada is working on the identification and understanding of brain tumor genes, immunotherapy for brain tumors, and cancers associated with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 syndrome.

Dr. G. Elizabeth Pluhar is studying gene expression and molecular profiling of canine brain tumors to understand how they develop and their unique vulnerabilities to exploit for therapy.

Dr. David Odde studies the biomechanics of glioma cell migration with an eye toward strategies to prevent glioma invasiveness. 

Clinical Work

Dr. Christopher Moertel, M.D., has tested a new brain tumor vaccination strategy using a novel stem cell line grown under low oxygen tension. This stem cell line has been used as the basis for a dendritic cell vaccine. 


David Largaespada and Chris Moertel at 2013 Neuro-Oncology Symposium

  • We have hosted three national level neuro-ongology symposia
  • We have hosted or co-hosted numerous regional meetings focuded on neurofibromatosis
  • We maintain strong research and planning ties with Mayo Clinic investigators who have a Brain Tumor SPORE grant
  • We have provided seed grant and travel grant funding to TWG members
  • We have a monthly "data club" for ongoing research updates by TWG members

Make a donation

Your generous gift can make a diffference in brain tumor research at the University of Minnesota.

Give online now

Masonic Cancer Center Clinical Trials

Adult Brain Cancer
Pediatric Brain Cancer
Cancer Survivorship

Data & Journal Club

2nd Thursdsays of the monthposter session picture
9-10 a.m.
CCRB Room 3-150

The UMBTP hosts a monthly Data & Journal Club - giving investigators and students the opportunity to share data, experimental designs, and relevant publications that spur innovative ideas and collaborations.

Learn more about upcoming UMBTP Data & Journal Club meetings: