ABTA Selects 2016 Lucien Rubinstein Research Award Recipient

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February 28, 2017

Chicago, Ill., February 28, 2017 – The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) named Raymond Chang, an ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellow and medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College, the 2016 Lucien Rubinstein Award recipient.

Chang’s research work aims to target parallel pathways in combination with two drugs that work synergistically to inhibit diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) growth.  His mentor Mark Souweidane, MD has been very impressed by Mr. Chang’s commitment and drive.  “In 20 years of proctoring medical students at Weill Cornell Medical School, he [Mr. Chang] has performed in an unprecedented manner,” states Dr. Souweidane.  

DIPG is a devastating pediatric brain tumor that does not currently have many effective treatment options.  Over 90% of patients die within two years of diagnosis. Current therapies, including radiation therapy and adjuvant chemotherapy, only prolong survival by a few months.

Recent research has elucidated promising new drug targets for DIPG, but tumors may use parallel pathways to avoid the effects of any one drug. Mr. Chang’s project, titled “Synergistic Antineoplastic Activity of PI3K Inhibitor ZSTK474 and MEK inhibitor Trametinib on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Cells” focuses researching the effectiveness of pathway inhibitors against DIPG tumors.

The goal is to identify potential new drugs to deliver to a brain stem tumor using convection-enhanced delivery (CED).  Dr. Souweidane’s Phase I trial of CED for DIPG concluded in 2016; the next steps will be to expand that trial to additional locations using different drugs. Chang’s research was designed to help identify candidate drugs to use in the next stages of the trial.

“Chang’s research is helping create new treatment options for pediatric brain tumors with limited options and it is with great pride that we honor him with the Lucien Rubinstein award,” said ABTA Chief Science Officer Nicole Willmarth, PhD. “He was among 5 medical students in 2016 who received funding from the ABTA to spend time in the lab as an ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellow gaining valuable, hands-on experience.”

The ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellowship is a 12 week, mentored laboratory experience designed to empower young, talented medical students to pursue a career in brain tumor research. At the conclusion of their fellowship, each student is required to submit a report on their experience and research findings.  A panel of ABTA Scientific Reviewers assesses the reports, and based on the highest review scores, an “outstanding medical student” is selected to receive the annual ABTA Lucien Rubinstein Award. The award is named in honor of Lucien J. Rubinstein, MD, a professor of neuropathology at the University of Virginia and a world-renowned brain tumor researcher.

Through the funding of early career scientists, the ABTA aims to seed the field with talented, bright young investigators who have the potential to change our understanding of the causes, effects, diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors.


Founded in 1973, the American Brain Tumor Association was the first and is the only national patient advocacy organization committed to funding brain tumor research and providing patients, caregivers and health care professionals with information, education, and support.