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New Hire is a Familiar Face: Dr. Adam Sonabend

Sonabend 281 x 300Brain tumors, look out.

There’s a new neurosurgeon on staff, and he has an award-winning record of fighting brain tumors. He is a skilled surgeon, a gifted researcher, and a dedicated teacher.

And we know all of this first-hand … because he is our very own Dr. Adam Sonabend.

Dr. Sonabend has just finished an incredible seven-year residency training program here at the Neurosurgery Department of Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Over that time, Dr. Sonabend has accomplished a staggering amount. Working closely with mentors like Dr. Jeffrey Bruce of the Bartoli Brain Tumor Laboratory, Dr. Sonabend has pushed back the frontiers of personalized medicine for brain tumors.

Personalized medicine involves tailoring a patient’s treatment specifically to him or her–even down to the molecular level. One aspect of Dr. Sonabend’s work in this field is the targeted delivery of cancer treatment to brain tumors. For example, he has made great advances in creating cancer-killing viruses tailored for specific patients’ tumors.

He has also researched the reasons why some brain tumors (specifically, some gliomas) respond to a chemotherapy drug called etoposide, while others do not. Because not all gliomas respond to the drug, it is not commonly used in glioma treatment. But Dr. Sonabend has been investigating these tumors at the molecular level, finding out how to predict which ones will respond to the drug. That way, in the future, patients who will benefit from the drug will be able to use it.

Dr. Sonabend has also researched the progression of a deadly brain tumor called a glioblastoma. Out of the hundreds of genes that control a low-grade tumor’s development into a deadly glioblastoma, Dr. Sonabend, Dr. Bruce, and others found that a few genes act as “orchestrators.” Deleting an “orchestrator” called p53, they found, accelerates progression to high-grade tumors, known as glioblastoma. This research opens up new possibilities for real-world brain tumor treatment.

Dr. Sonabend and Dr. Bruce are also researching a new technique called convection-enhanced delivery. In this technique, a cancer-fighting drug can be infused directly into the brain. This maximizes drug delivery to the tumor and minimizes side effects for the patient.

“Adam is one of the most outstanding residents that we have trained in recent years,” says Neurosurgery Chair, Dr. Robert Solomon“Besides achieving technical mastery of neurological surgical operations, he has proven to be a gifted research scientist. At this young stage in his career, he has garnered numerous grants, awards, and honors. We are excited that he has elected to join our department. We look forward to a brilliant career treating patients with brain tumors and leading future innovative approaches to solving the mysteries of malignant gliomas.”

Dr. Sonabend has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications. He was the lead author on 20 of these. His work has been published in journals like Cancer Research, Stem Cells, Neurooncology, Journal of Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurooncology, Gene Therapy, Cancer Gene Therapy, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We have written about Dr. Sonabend’s many activities and achievements over his years as a resident. Read about just a few of his awards here (NREF) and here (RUNN), his teaching activities here (white matter workshop) and here (brain anatomy workshop), and his publications here (glioma progression) and here (pineal tumors).

Dr. Sonabend’s recruitment was strongly supported by the office of Provost and the Dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. They granted him a generous recruitment award that will make it possible for him to establish a lab and develop his research interests. The award is called Diversity Recruitment Award by the Office of Senior Associate Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, Columbia University.

We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Sonabend to the Brain Tumor Center in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Neurological Institute of New York. Patients and colleagues get to keep a trusted friend… and brain tumors just got another formidable foe.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join the Department of Neurosurgery to expand our brain tumor program,” says Dr. Sonabend.” The multidisciplinary expertise by staff, clinicians, and scientists, make Columbia a top notch place to take care of brain tumor patients, and to do research on the subject. I am honored by this opportunity.”


patient journey

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