Research HighlightsVisit the Neuro-oncology Patient page

Vanderbilt’s Division of Neuro-Oncology specializes in the diagnosis and management of primary or secondary cancers affecting the brain and the neurologic complications of cancer. The Division participates in a distinctive multidisciplinary neuro-oncology program that provides patients with exceptional care, engaging collaborators as well as trainees in the full spectrum of clinical and research efforts. The neuro-oncology faculty are not only part of the Neurology Department, but also members of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Vanderbilt Brain Tumor Center, which is led by Dr. Ryan Merrell, Division Chief of Neuro-Oncology and Dr. Reid Carleton Thompson, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery.  These affiliations allow the Division to provide patients, referring physicians, and researchers the best access to every facet of Vanderbilt’s nationally-recognized cancer care. Neuro-oncologists collaborate daily with surgeons, radiation oncologists, pediatric neuro-oncology, neuropathologists, and other specialists, offering a depth and breadth of expertise that also lends itself to groundbreaking research. A multidisciplinary tumor board meets weekly to review new patients and established patients with new complications, together determining the appropriate course of action. 

Care of patients with primary CNS neoplasms is one of the core clinical efforts of the Division of Neuro-Oncology. Regardless of the treatment course, Neuro-Oncology follows primary brain tumor patients on a long-term basis and contributes both in terms of neurology issues and tumor or oncology issues. Patients with metastatic involvement of the nervous system are also seen, including management of those with carcinomatous meningitis.  The Division also evaluates and treats neurological complications of systemic cancer that are not metastatic, including many different neurological problems such as paraneoplastic syndromes, seizures, strokes, dementia, myopathy, neuropathy, as well as patients with cancer-related pain syndromes. Neuro-Oncology faculty co-direct the VICC Neurofibromatosis Clinic which is part of the national NF Clinic Network sponsored by the Children’s Tumor Foundation. 

Neuro-Oncology has faculty members that focus on clinical care, as well as those who are key lab investigators. Research takes the form of clinical trials, as well as basic science and lab research, allowing for a free flow of groundbreaking discovery between the lab and the clinic.

Research HighlightsResearch Highlights

Neuro-Oncology manages a number of clinical trials, with a focus on common primary brain tumors including glioblastoma, medulloblastoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, low-grade astrocytoma, and recurrences of multiple kinds of gliomas. There is currently a trial underway, led by Dr. Moots, addressing progressive neurofibromatosis

Dr. Cooper’s research interests involve brain tumor stem cells and the development of new antibodies to recognize glioma cells. 

For additional details about research in the Neuro-Oncology Division, visit the division research page.

Education & TrainingEducation & Training

Trainees in Neuro-oncology will be exposed to every facet of cancer care because of the close collaboration with the VICC and Brain Tumor Center. Fellowships are occasionally available for neurologists wishing to pursue further study of brain tumors and cancer research. 

Recent and Notable PublicationsRecent and Notable Publications

Textbook of Uncommon Cancer, 4th Edition. Raghavan, D., Blanke, C., Johnson, D.H., Moots, P.L., Reamen, G., Rose, P., Sekeres, M. (ed). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., West Sussex, England.  2012

Cancer stem cells in glioma: challenges and opportunities. Wang J, Ma Y, Cooper MK. Transl Cancer Res. 2013 Oct 1;2(5):429-441. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2218-676X.2013.08.01.

Valganciclovir and bevacizumab for recurrent glioblastoma: A single-institution experience. Peng C, Wang J, Tanksley JP, Mobley BC, Ayers GD, Moots PL, Clark SW. Mol Clin Oncol. 2016 Feb;4(2):154-158. doi: 10.3892/mco.2015.692. Epub 2015 Dec 4. PMID: 26893852

The Age Factor in the Treatment of Glioblastoma. Clark SW. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Jul 1;73(7):783-4. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.1331.

Intertumoral Heterogeneity within Medulloblastoma Subgroups. Cavalli FMG, Remke M, Rampasek L, Peacock J, Shih DJH, Luu B, Garzia L, Torchia J, Nor C, Morrissy AS, Agnihotri S, Thompson YY, Kuzan-Fischer CM, Farooq H, Isaev K, Daniels C, Cho BK, Kim SK, Wang KC, Lee JY, Grajkowska WA, Perek-Polnik M, Vasiljevic A, Faure-Conter C, Jouvet A, Giannini C, Nageswara Rao AA, Li KKW, Ng HK, Eberhart CG, Pollack IF, Hamilton RL, Gillespie GY, Olson JM, Leary S, Weiss WA, Lach B, Chambless LB, Thompson RC, Cooper MK, Vibhakar R, Hauser P, van Veelen MC, Kros JM, French PJ, Ra YS, Kumabe T, López-Aguilar E, Zitterbart K, Sterba J, Finocchiaro G, Massimino M, Van Meir EG, Osuka S, Shofuda T, Klekner A, Zollo M, Leonard JR, Rubin JB, Jabado N, Albrecht S, Mora J, Van Meter TE, Jung S, Moore AS, Hallahan AR, Chan JA, Tirapelli DPC, Carlotti CG, Fouladi M, Pimentel J, Faria CC, Saad AG, Massimi L, Liau LM, Wheeler H, Nakamura H, Elbabaa SK, Perezpeña-Diazconti M, Chico Ponce de León F, Robinson S, Zapotocky M, Lassaletta A, Huang A, Hawkins CE, Tabori U, Bouffet E, Bartels U, Dirks PB, Rutka JT, Bader GD, Reimand J, Goldenberg A, Ramaswamy V, Taylor MD. Cancer Cell. 2017 Jun 12;31(6):737-754.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2017.05.005.


Central Nervous System Cancers, Version 3.2020, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. Nabors LB, Portnow J, Ahluwalia M, Baehring J, Brem H, Brem S, Butowski N, Campian JL, Clark SW, Fabiano AJ, Forsyth P, Hattangadi-Gluth J, Holdhoff M, Horbinski C, Junck L, Kaley T, Kumthekar P, Loeffler JS, Mrugala MM, Nagpal S, Pandey M, Parney I, Peters K, Puduvalli VK, Robins I, Rockhill J, Rusthoven C, Shonka N, Shrieve DC, Swinnen LJ, Weiss S, Wen PY, Willmarth NE, Bergman MA, Darlow SD.J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2020 Nov 2;18(11):1537-1570. doi: 10.6004/jnccn.2020.0052.PMID: 33152694

Preradiation Chemotherapy for Adult High-risk Medulloblastoma: A Trial of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (E4397). Moots PL, O'Neill A, Londer H, Mehta M, Blumenthal DT, Barger GR, Grunnet ML, Grossman S, Gilbert MR, Schiff D. Am J Clin Oncol. 2018 Jun;41(6):588-594. doi: 10.1097/COC.0000000000000326.

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