Gurus of Brain Oncology
Three leading lights in the field of neuro-oncology share what inspired them, how the field has evolved, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
Jonathan James | | Interview
On finding inspiration…
Susan Chang: “Returning from a neuro-oncology elective in San Francisco as part of my medical training, I was really attracted by the opportunity to combine two of my loves: working with and taking care of patients, and the chance to see first-hand how treatments move from basic science into translatable work. That approach has kept me engaged with basic science and allowed me to work with some young, passionate people, who are experts in their own fields. What excites me in general about brain tumor research is the collaborative and multi-disciplinary nature of the field. It’s really about how clinicians and scientist can work together to inform each other. Combining knowledge allows us to focus on developing new treatments for patients.”
Colin Watts: “An interest in stem cell-based approaches to treating neurodegenerative disease quickly morphed into an interest in malignant transformation. I became fascinated by how we can visualize brain tumors – or cancers in general – as an ecosystem, with multiple populations fighting for resources; I was interested in how we might apply Darwinian principles. And that lead me to pursue the idea that, to truly beat cancer, we needed to better understand tumor heterogeneity and the biological diversity of the disease – how it changes, both with time and in space. Different parts of the tumor are different in the same way that different areas of the planet are different, with different animals occupying the same biological niches.”
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