American Brain Tumor Association Awards 16 Grants to Support Brain Tumor Research

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Awarded research projects focus on potential treatments, immunotherapy, new imaging approaches and metastatic brain tumors

September 21, 2016 - Chicago, Illinois

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ABTA awards 16 grantsfor reseach projects on potential new treatments, immunotherapy & metastatic #braintumors

The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) is pleased to announce the recipients of 16 grants that support cutting-edge brain tumor research. Through a highly-competitive review process, the ABTA is seeding the field with talented investigators who have the potential to change the understanding of the causes, effects, diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. Since its inception, the ABTA has awarded nearly $30 million in grants to scientists from around the country and beyond.

This year’s funded projects focus on areas such as potential new therapies, novel imaging approaches, immunotherapy and metastatic disease.

“Our new grant recipients hail from a variety of institutions and backgrounds to propel the brain tumor research field forward,” said Nicole Willmarth, PhD, chief science officer, American Brain Tumor Association. “We are excited to support these innovative projects that bring together promising and novel areas of science to accelerate our understanding of brain tumors.”

ABTA grants include the 2016-2017 Discovery Grants, 2016-2018 Basic Research Fellowships and 2016 Medical Student Summer Fellowships. This year’s recipients were selected after going through a competitive, multi-step review process based on scientific merit, potential for impact and alignment with the ABTA mission.

The American Brain Tumor Association Discovery Grant is a prestigious one-year, $50,000 grant supporting cutting-edge, innovative approaches that have the potential to change current diagnostic or treatment paradigms for either adult or pediatric brain tumors. The 2016-2017 Discovery Grant recipients are:

Anita Bellail, PhD
Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
Mentor: Chunhai Hao, MD, PhD, FRCPC
“Development of Potent SUMO1 Inhibitors as Anticancer Drugs for Glioblastoma Therapy”

Vivian Gama, PhD
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Mentor: Chin Chiang, PhD
“Targeting Mcl-1 to Disrupt Glioblastoma Stem Cells”

Xi Huang, PhD
The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
Mentor: Michael Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCSC
“Targeting Potassium Channel KCNB2 in High Risk Medulloblastoma”

Peter LaViolette, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Mentor: Kathleen Schmainda, PhD
“Brain Cancer Radiohistomics”

Josh Neman, PhD
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Mentor: Thomas Chen, MD, PhD
“Role of Cerebellar Microenvironment in Medulloblastoma Development”

Jiangbing Zhou, PhD
Yale University, New Haven CT
Mentor: Joseph Peipmeier, MD
“A Nanotechnology Platform for Systemic Delivery of Chemotherapy to Malignant Gliomas”

The recipients of the Basic Research Fellowships are postdoctoral fellows conducting impactful brain tumor research. This two-year, $100,000 grant provides recipients the opportunity to be mentored by world-class scientists in renowned institutions, in an effort to provide the research, scientific, management and other guidance necessary to foster their career development. The 2016-2018 Basic Research Fellowship recipients are:

Christopher Alvarez-Breckenridge, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Mentor: Priscilla Brastianos, MD
“Characterization of Tumor and Immune Cell Clonal Evolution in Response to Immune Checkpoint Blockade for Metastatic CNS Disease”

Lan Hoang-Minh, PhD
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Mentor: Matthew R. Sarkisian, PhD
“Investigation of the Human Glioblastoma Ciliome”

Giedre Krenciute, PhD 
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Mentor: Stephen Gottschalk, MD
“Genetically Engineered T-Cells as Therapy for Glioblastoma”

Francisco Puerta-Martinez, PhD 
MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Mentor: Juan Fueyo, MD
“Targeting Immunotherapy to Gliomas and Brain Metastases Enhancing Oncolytic Viruses with Immune Checkpoint Modulation”

Zhaohui Wang, PhD
Duke University, Durham, NC
Mentor: Hai Yan, MD, PhD
“Investigating the Impacts of PPM1D Mutations on Brainstem Gliomagenesis and Evaluating Therapeutic Efficacy for Targeting PPM1D Mutations in Brainstem”

ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellowships are $3,000 grants awarded to deserving medical students who wish to spend a summer conducting a brain tumor research project under the guidance of esteemed scientist-mentors. Through this award, the ABTA seeks to encourage motivated physician-scientists to enter and remain in the brain tumor research field.

Abdul-Kareem Ahmed
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
Mentor: Sean Lawler, PhD
“Immune Suppressive Mechanisms of Extracellular Vesicles in Glioblastoma Treated with Gene-Mediated Cytotoxic Immunotherapy”

Raymond Chang

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY
Mentor: Mark Souweidane, MD
“Convection-Enhanced Delivery of a Novel Combinatorial Chemotherapy in a Mouse Model of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma”

Patrick Flanigan

University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Mentor: Manish Aghi, MD, PhD
“Role of Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 Upregulation in Anti-Angiogenic Therapy Resistance”

Tyler Lazaro
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Mentor: Priscilla Brastianos, MD
“Identification of Therapeutic Targets in Posterior Skull Base Meningiomas”

Adela Wu
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Mentor: Michael Lim, M.D.
“Elucidating the Mechanism of Anti-TIM-3 and Anti-PD-1 in Reversing T-Cell Exhaustion and Prolonging Survival in a Murine Glioblastoma Model”

Visit the ABTA website to learn more about brain tumor research projects funded by the ABTA’s research program.

The ABTA is now accepting applications for three research funding opportunities. Requests for funding are posted on the website and applications will be accepted until Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 12:00 noon Central Daylight Time. For more information about ABTA research grant opportunities, visit

About the American Brain Tumor Association

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 support and education programs for people of all tumor types and all ages.

For more information, visit or call 800-886-ABTA (2282).