Medical Student Christopher Marnell Wins Summer NREF Fellowship

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Weill Cornell Medical Student Christopher Marnell

First-year Weill Cornell medical student Christopher Marnell has been awarded a prestigious 2016 Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship by the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF). NREF, the philanthropical arm of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), awards summer research fellowships to 20 outstanding medical students nationwide who apply to spend a summer working in a neurosurgical laboratory.

Marnell will join the Children’s Brain Tumor Project laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Souweidane; his work will support Dr. Souweidane’s clinical trial for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Dr. Souweidane has been testing the safety of convection-enhanced delivery (CED), which gets tumor-fighting drugs directly to the site of this deadly brain stem tumor. (Traditional chemotherapy does not get sufficient doses of a drug to the brain due to the protective blood-brain barrier.)

Marnell’s project will test two-dimensional peptide-based nanofibers (NFP) as drug carriers to slow clearance rates and improve the distribution of chemotherapeutics injected into a DIPG tumor by CED. These nanofibers will be co-labeled with Cy5.5 fluorophore and fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITCin order to track their distribution through the brain. This is one of the first studies to attempt CED of peptide-based nanofibers to the brain, and is a promising strategy to potentially improve brain tumor treatment.

More about the DIPG clinical trial

More about the Children’s Brain Tumor Project