About the Lab

Mathematical neuro-oncology is an exciting interdisciplinary field incorporating applied mathematics, clinical oncology, cancer biology, radiology, pathology and informatics. This discipline represents a major paradigm shift in the generation of practical clinical tools to benefit people diagnosed with brain tumors.

Kristin R. Swanson, Ph.D., and her research team in the Mathematical Neuro-Oncology Lab at Mayo Clinic is at the forefront of this field developing numerous models of glioma tumors and finding ways to make these models specific for predicting and simulating individualized tumor behavior under different treatment scenarios. To support this research, the lab has also amassed a large repository of patient-centric data, including segmented and measured images, treatments, pathologies and patient demographics. Dr. Swanson's research team's current projects focus on growing and harnessing this resource to predict patient-specific tumor growth, find patient-specific markers of tumor progression and identify predictors of response to therapy in individuals.


Gliomas are diffuse and invasive brain tumors with the nefarious ability to recur despite extensive surgical resection. Chemotherapies also are seldom successful due to hindrance by the intricate capillary structure of the blood-brain barrier. Using a simple mathematical model of glioma growth and diffusion, the Mathematical Neuro-Oncology Lab has simulated a prediction of the degree to which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) underestimates the actual extent of diffuse invasion of the brain by glioma cells. This simple model now includes additional factors and is useful in a number of settings.