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Dr. Adam Sonabend: Chief Resident and Notable Researcher

Dr. SonabendThe Department of Neurosurgery has an outstanding Chief Resident in Dr. Adam Sonabend. In addition to being a skilled surgeon, Dr. Sonabend is a gifted researcher.

Dr. Sonabend’s research focuses on a kind of brain tumor called a glioma. About 80% of malignant brain tumors are gliomas. These tumors arise in the brain’s glial cells, which help support the function of the other main brain cell type—the neuron.

One exciting aspect of Dr. Sonabend’s research has been his use of cancer-killing viruses to treat gliomas. He pioneered a way to deliver these viruses to tumors deep within the brain.

In his other research projects, Dr. Sonabend seeks to expand the frontiers of knowledge of gliomas and their treatment.

For instance, he has been investigating what causes gliomas to progress. Understanding this sequence will open up possibilities for new treatments. He also researches how gliomas respond to existing treatments. Different gliomas respond to the same treatment in different ways, and Dr. Sonabend is driven to discover why.

Earlier this month, Dr. Sonabend conducted Grand Rounds to share some of his research with the Department of Neurosurgery at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Grand Rounds are meetings where doctors and medical students come to learn. Sometimes the topic is general–an overview of advances in a particular field, for example. But when a doctor is asked to speak about his particular research, the topic can be very, very specific.

Dr. Sonabend’s Grand Rounds presentation, which lasted an hour, delved into the nitty-gritty of his work with gliomas. It was called “Personalized and Effective Topoisomerase II-Targeting for Malignant Gliomas: Tackling Transcriptional Networks, Epigenetic and Drug Delivery Challenges.”

During his lecture, Dr. Sonabend explained his recent findings and their relevance for personalizing the therapy for patients with brain tumors. He and his collaborators are working to define a set of molecular markers that can predict which patients might benefit from a chemotherapy drug called etoposide, a drug used in other cancers but not in gliomas.

According to Dr. Sonabend and his recent publication in Neuro-oncology, this drug might be effective for  patients with gliomas, if given directly into the brain tumor, as long as it is given to the right patient. This concept is called precision medicine, or personalized care, and is a major focus of Dr. Sonabend’s translational research. Dr. Sonabend is working with Dr. Jeffrey Bruce to use a novel technology called convection-enhanced delivery in which a drug is infused directly into the brain, achieving a high concentration in the tumor and minimal side effects.

Dr. Sonabend’s research has appeared in 40 peer-reviewed publications, for 20 of which he was the lead author. He has been published in journals such as Stem Cells, Neuro-Oncology, Cancer Research, and Journal of Neurosurgery.

Currently, Dr. Sonabend is a Chief Resident of Neurosurgery working with neurosurgeon and brain tumor specialist Dr. Jeffrey Bruce in the Bartoli Brain Tumor Lab. We are proud to say that Dr. Sonabend will soon be joining the Neurosurgery faculty as a valued part of our expanding neuro-oncology program.

Learn more about Dr. Bruce on his bio page here.

patient journey

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