Earlier this year, I became a Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Fellow at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
What does this mean exactly? Aside from this bringing yet another year of training (this will be 27th grade for me!), I will spend a year learning how to take care of children diagnosed with brain tumors, working with incredible pediatric neuro-oncology clinicians, Dr. Patricia Robertson and Marcia Leonard, APRN.
In addition to my clinical work, I will also continue working in the Castro/Lowenstein Lab that focuses on learning more about malignant brain tumors. Drs. Lowenstein and Castro have established tremendous success in developing gene therapies to treat brain tumors, one of which is now the basis of a Phase I trial in adult patients here at the University of Michigan. They intend to expand this concept to pediatric patients in the future.
In the time I have spent working with brain tumor patients and brain tumor research, I have realized that time in the clinic and lab build on each other. In the lab, I follow the growth and treatment response of tumor cells in dishes and in research animals. In the clinic, when I see a patient with the same brain tumor, I feel a spark of understanding as to what is driving the tumor’s growth and why some treatments are better than others. As well, spending time with these children and their families provides a strong motivation to get back in the lab to improve treatments.
In the laboratory, I was fortunate this year to receive two grants. One is from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the other is an Alex’s Lemonade Stand Young Investigator Grant. These grants allow me to continue my research related to pediatric glioblastoma (GBM), a kind of brain tumor with one of the worst prognosis for children.
My work is focused on the ATRX gene, which is a gene that was recently found to be frequently mutated in adolescents and young adults with glioblastoma. Its role in tumor growth remains unknown. Together with other members of the Castro/Lowenstein Lab, we were able to develop the first mouse model of glioblastoma with loss of the ATRX gene. With the help of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital pediatric neurosurgeons Drs. Hugh Garton and Karin Muraszko, we have recently begun to study tumor cells taken from children whose brain tumors are resected here. Treatments for human cancers are becoming increasingly personalized, and ATRX loss allows for a promising target for individualized treatment for patients with glioblastoma.
The people here at the University of Michigan involved in the care and research of childhood brain tumors are incredibly talented, and we are in the process of making important advances in the field. The children with brain tumors that we interact with deserve no less than this. I am lucky to be at the beginning of a career working with these patients and researchers.
Take the next step:
- Learn more about pediatric cancer research at Mott.
- Learn more about the promising research underway in the Castro/Lowenstein lab at University of Michigan Health System.
- Discover how you can play a part in the fight to Block Out Cancer.
Carl Koschmann, MD, is a fellow in the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology program at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. In addition to his work caring for children with cancer, Carl works in the lab of Drs. Pedro Lowenstein and Maria Castro as a research fellow. He is interested in the mutations specific to pediatric and adolescent glioblastoma (GBM), and works primarily on a project determining the impact of loss of the ATRX gene on GBM progression and treatment response. He is also involved in a clinical pilot project studying MRI changes associated with radiation-induced cognitive injuries with Drs. Dan Hamstra and Patricia Robertson. Carl plans to pursue a career as a physician-scientist providing research and clinical care for pediatric brain tumor patients. His hobbies include cross-country skiing and climbing play structures with his sons.
Block Out Cancer is a rallying cry for people from all walks of life to come together to support the fight against children’s cancers. Everyone has a role to play. Learn more about how you can help Block Out Cancer.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” in 2014, and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine.