Brain Tumor Program

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Neuro-Oncology Innovation Challenge| Minneapolis, MN
April 22-23, 2024

Registration opens February 2024

Join lead researchers, clinicians, scientists and industry representatives for a two-day in-depth discussion on the root challenges for treating brain cancer.

What is an Innovation Challenge? An Innovation Challenge is a unique alternative to traditional symposiums which encourages collaboration and creative problem-solving in a chosen field. This is going to be a fast paced, energetic and fantastic opportunity to collaborate with others within the neuro-oncology sphere.



The John R. Ohlfest Memorial Lecture Award

We are happy to announce Dr. Gelareh Zadeh as the 2024 recipient of the John R. Ohlfest Memorial Lecture Award. 

Dr. Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD, FRCS(C), FAANS, is The Head of Surgical Oncology at University Health Network, Head of the Toronto Central Regional Cancer Program at Cancer Care Ontario, and also the Program Medical Director for the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. She is a neurosurgeon-scientist at the Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She has a dedicated clinical and research program in neuro-oncology and neurosurgery. In addition, she is the Wilkins Family Chair for Brain Tumor Research, the co-Director of the Elizabeth Raab Neurofibromatosis Program, and the Director of the UHN Brain Tumor Biobank.

Dr. Zadeh has a dedicated neuro-oncology and skull base practice, which include a number of multidisciplinary specialized programs such as skull base, brain metastases, pituitary tumors, gamma knife and neurofibromatosis clinics. In parallel, she has an active research laboratory focusing on integrated multi-platform molecular analysis of brain tumors, together with a focus on understanding molecular response to targeted therapies, such as anti-angiogenesis and metabolic inhibitors. She is also involved in a number of national and international organizations, like the WFNS, NASBS, and SNO.

Collaborate for Cash: Trainee Brainstorm Pilot Grant

Apply Today!

The BTP is soliciting applications for Trainee Brainstorm Pilot Grants. The objective of this funding mechanism is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations between BTP labs, catalyzed by a collaboration between two or more Ph.D., D.V.M, M.D., M.D./Ph.D. or D.V.M./Ph.D. trainees (graduate students or postdoctoral fellows) in two separate labs. This proposal should be generated by trainees, with approval of the involved lab principal investigators, with at least one trainee in each of the involved labs who is committed to seeing the project take place. The projects should encompass novel, hypothesis-driven studies of nervous system cancer or a cancer-related topic/theme. Proposed research must have the clear goal of using the award as a springboard to initiate a new collaboration and eventually a new grant from federal sources. Letter of Intent (Required) due April 21, 2023 11:59pm. 

Email us at for an application. 


UMN Brain Tumor Program Featured on 60 Minutes

Dr. Liz Pluhar, Dr. Matt Hunt, and Dr. Elizabeth Neil were featured in a 60 Minute Episode titled, "Survival of the Friendliest, Comparative Oncology" which aired on  November 27, 2022. The episode can be found here.


Thank you to all who attended the Dr. John Ohlfest Memorial Session


Announcing the Dr. John Ohlfest, Ph.D., Memorial Session at SNO 2022


Dr. John R. Ohlfest, PhD was a fantastic young scientist who made important contributions to brain tumor research as a faculty member at University of Minnesota, including early studies on glioma immunotherapy and new methods for making syngeneic models in mice. He passed away at the age of 35 on January 21, 2013, after a long battle versus malignant melanoma. His contributions include the creation of novel mouse syngeneic glioblastoma models using Sleeping Beauty transposon technology, pioneering work on immunotherapy trials using canine brain tumors, and the development of GMP-grade GBM stem cells that are being used in glioma vaccine clinical trials. We have organized a one and a half hour satellite symposium in his honor at the 2022 Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting.  All are welcome to attend.


7:15 – 8:45AM, Saturday, November 19,2022 at the Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting.  Tampa Convention Center, Rms. 120-121


Hideho Okada (UC-San Francisco), David Largaespada (U. Minnesota), Maria Castro (U. Michigan), Brian Andersen (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), Christopher Moertel (U. Minnesota), Michael Olin (U. Minnesota), Liz Pluhar (U. Minnesota), and David Odde (U. Minnesota)


Hideho Okada -- Welcome

Maria CastroSleeping Beauty-transposons mediated brain tumor models: from epigenetic remodelling to novel therapies in human patients

David Largaespada – Transposons two ways: Creating brain tumors with Sleeping Beauty and the legacy of John Ohlfest, Ph.D.

Christopher Moertel – Mice, Dogs, Fish and Rock ‘n Roll - John Ohlfest from lab to clinic.

Mike Olin – TBD

Brian Andersen – Oxygen-Mediated Control of Glioma-Derived Annexin A2: A Thesis Journey Guided by John Ohlfest

Liz Pluhar– "Bridging the translation gap: Providing therapeutic advances for canine and human brain cancer patients"

David OddeTBD

Hideho Okada – SB28 cell line as a clinically relevant syngeneic mouse model – immune landscape and preclinical therapeutic studies

Thank you for attending our 6th semi-annual Neuro-Oncology Symposium!


We want to give our sincerest thanks to all those who attended this years' Neuro-Oncology Symposium!

A special thanks to our sponsors, GT Medical, Caris, Boston Scientific, Love your Melon and M Health Fairview. 


6th Neuro-Oncology Symposium on May 23-24th, 2022 at McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis, MN 

Register online today!

This two-day event will feature presentations about fundamental brain tumor research, translational research, and clinical research from leading brain cancer experts. This symposium will be of interest to researchers and students as well as physicians and other health care providers.

In addition, we are offering our Patient and Caregiver Program again! This program will take place on Monday, May 23 at McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis, MN. This will be a hybrid optional event. 

Click here to register for our Patient and Caregiver Program!

Contact for Questions:

For more information visit us at:

Thank you for attending our Neurofibromatosis Conference on September 27, 2021!

NF Conference

We want to give our sincerest thanks to all those who attended this years' Neurofibromatosis Conference! Although we had hoped that we would be able to meet in person, we are so happy that you were able to join us via Zoom. 

A special thanks to our sponsors, Children's Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, and Children's Tumor Foundation. Thank you to our wonderful speakers and moderator, Chris Moertel, Michael Halloran, Adrienne Watson, Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, Elizabeth and Alanna Halloran, Kyle Williams, Christina Boull, David Largaespada, Pavlina Sverak and Erin Marcotte. 

You can find a recording of the entire conference here

A Leading Translational Neuro-Oncology Program

The mission of the University 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.

Brain Tumor Program Travel Grant (FY22)

We are happy to announce that the Brain Tumor Program Travel Grants will be available for FY22. These are for students, post-docs, and clinical fellows who will be traveling to a brain tumor related conference. Up to four travel awards up to $1000 each will be awarded this cycle. Only individuals who have submitted an abstract will be eligible to apply.

View Application Instructions

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.