About the Lab

In the past decades, brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the most common cancer causing death among children and adolescents. The Experimental Drug and Therapeutics for Pediatric Brain Tumor Lab of David J. Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic aims to improve the prognosis of children with malignant brain tumors through early diagnosis, novel strategies and targeted therapies based on the unique molecular underpinnings of individual brain tumors.

Malignant brain tumors, including glioblastomas, diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs), medulloblastomas and ependymomas, are among the most lethal cancers and inflict a disproportionate impact on younger populations. Effective new therapies are needed to alleviate the suffering and improve the prognosis of children facing these central nervous system tumors. Dr. Daniels' focus is the diagnosis and treatment of these tumors.

Dr. Daniels and his colleagues seek to develop and rigorously test techniques that facilitate aggressive surgical resection for pediatric brain tumors, while maintaining or improving safety. The techniques include integrating functional imaging, including functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging tractography, into image-guidance systems and intraoperative MRI. They are also pursuing novel strategies such as fluorescence-guided resection and ultra-early diagnosis of tumor types.

Over the last decade, a wealth of new information about the molecular diversity of these tumors has emerged. Whereas whole categories of tumors were once treated with identical therapies, physicians now have the ability to detect unique features of a patient's tumor and tailor treatment accordingly. Dr. Daniels' lab seeks to develop novel strategies and therapies based on the unique molecular underpinnings of individual brain tumors.