The Neuro-Oncology Program conducts research on primary brain tumors, including astrocytomas, also known as gliomas; oligodendrogliomas; medulloblastomas; and primary central nervous system lymphoma.
In particular, the Neuro-Oncology Program capitalizes on Mayo Clinic's strengths in neurosurgery, epidemiology, molecular biology, neuropathology and imaging, and integrates them with Mayo Clinic's extensive experience in primary brain tumors to develop the most promising avenues of research. This research is accomplished through the cooperative efforts of multidisciplinary team members on all three Mayo Clinic campuses in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Rochester, Minn.
One of the most robust research areas in the Neuro-Oncology Program is that of translational research. Designed to move laboratory discoveries from the bench to the bedside, translational research initiatives translate basic science findings to direct patient care applications.
The Neuro-Oncology Program also has a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in brain cancer from the National Cancer Institute — awarded specifically to further promising translational research projects.
Neuro-oncology: A new science backed with a century of experience
Brain tumor research is a relatively modern science that parallels the explosion of molecular biology and modern neuroimaging. While the science is new, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's Neuro-Oncology Program has its roots in Mayo Clinic's long history of brain cancer treatment and research dating back more than 100 years.
In the early 1900s, Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons began performing surgical opening of the skull (craniotomy) for brain tumors. Researchers at Mayo Clinic helped create the first classification system for brain tumors (Kernohan System) and later added a new classification system, the St. Anne-Mayo system, which was adopted by the World Health Organization.
Mayo Clinic also introduced revolutionary technology with the first computerized tomography (CT) scanner in clinical use and the first hospital-based MRI unit in the United States. In 1984, Mayo Clinic introduced computer-assisted stereotactic neurosurgery, which revolutionized the approach to diagnosis and treatment of deep-seated lesions within the brain. In 1991, a Leksell Gamma Knife was installed at Saint Marys Hospital on the Rochester, Minn., campus.
Many patients who receive treatment at Mayo Clinic also participate in clinical trials and associated research, including studies of tumor biology, neuropathology and epidemiology. This large patient base forms the foundation of the Neuro-Oncology Program.
The Neuro-Oncology Program has two co-leaders: