Raymond Chang Wins ABTA Award for Summer Sprint Project

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Raymond Chang Wins ABTA Award for Summer Sprint
Raymond Chang in the pediatric neuro-oncology lab at Weill Cornell Medicine

Raymond Chang, a medical student who participated in the Children’s Brain Tumor Project “summer sprint” in 2016, has been named winner of the American Brain Tumor Association’s Lucien Rubinstein Award. The award, named for the late neuropathologist and brain tumor researcher at the University of Virginia, is given each year to the ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellowship recipient whose final report receives the highest score from a panel of scientific reviewers.

Chang, now a second-year student at Weill Cornell Medical College, spent two months as an ABTA Medical Student Summer Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Souweidane, researching the effectiveness of pathway inhibitors against DIPG tumors. The goal is to identify potential new drugs to deliver to a brain stem tumor using convection-enhanced delivery (CED).  Dr. Souweidane’s Phase I trial of CED for DIPG concluded in 2016; the next steps will be to expand that trial to additional locations using different drugs. Chang’s research was designed to help identify candidate drugs to use in the next stages of the trial.

Chang tested two PI3K inhibitors and a MEK inhibitor in vitro on patient-derived DIPG cell lines and then in vivo in mouse models. His research uncovered a combination that inhibited DIPG growth in vitro. (Combinations of drugs have been shown to be more effective than single agents, as tumors quickly develop resistance to one drug.) The combination holds promise for use via CED, and Chang is continuing laboratory testing in mice to investigate its safety when infused.

In December, Chang delivered his final report, “Synergistic Antineoplastic Activity of PI3K Inhibitor ZSTK474 and MEK Inhibitor Trametinib on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Cells,” as an oral presentation at the annual meeting of the AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery.  

More about the Children’s Brain Tumor Project