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Research & Education


The multi-disciplinary, collaborative team of physicians and research scientists at the Northwestern Medicine Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Lurie Cancer Center is dedicated to advancing the standard-of-care and improving the lives of patients with a wide range of central nervous system cancers. Our excellence in patient care is both supported and advanced through extensive basic science and translational research, with each laboratory focused on a unique aspect of brain and spine tumors.

Meet Our Investigators

Grants & Awards

 Malnati Brain Tumor Institute investigators are supported by more than 30 awards from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Brain Tumor SPORE
    The Lurie Cancer Center Brain Tumor SPORE, led by Maciej Lesniak, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, with projects led by members of the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology, is one of only six brain cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The SPORE supports the efforts of our clinical investigators and basic scientists to advance novel treatment approaches to improve outcomes for patients with brain cancer.

  • U19
    The NCI-funded Glioblastoma Therapeutics Network (GTN) supports multi-institution collaboration to rapidly develop new treatments. Our research team is focused on using ultrasound technology to deliver novel therapies across the blood-brain barrier.

Research Areas


Meningiomas, the most common primary intracranial tumor, typically treated with surgery and/or radiation, are being screened and tested for target approaches and risk of recurrence and susceptibility to radiation responses.

Low-Grade Gliomas

Beyond surgery, the low-grade glioma program is focused on quality-of-life issues, including seizure control and selection of the best translational therapeutics using unique models.

Metastatic Brain Cancer

The metastatic brain cancer program spans preclinical studies that uncover new mechanisms of tumor growth and progression to novel clinical trials incorporating innovative imaging technology.


Chordoma is a rare and deadly sarcoma that is being comprehensively profiled using single-cell sequencing, DNA methylation and immunology to identify novel treatment strategies beyond the standard of resection and radiation.


Glioblastoma, the most common and lethal primary brain tumor, is markedly heterogenous, requiring multi-dimensional characterization to inform the development of novel immunotherapy, viral and drug therapy strategies, predictive biomarkers or response and innovation in therapeutic delivery to the brain.

Pediatric Brain Tumors

Pediatric brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children. Research efforts are directed to blood-based biomarkers for detection and diagnosis while the therapeutic program is devoted to rationally selected immunotherapies after preclinical vetting of lead candidates.

Significant Breakthroughs

Learn about a few of the recent breakthroughs driven by Malnati Brain Tumor Institute investigators below.

Trainee Resources

Two investigators wearing personal protective equipment look at a dissected brain sample on a screen

Skull Base Lab

The Skull Base Lab gives residents, fellows and practicing surgeons the opportunity to work with highly trained faculty using state-of-the-art technologies and hands-on dissection to improve the skills they need in the operating room.

Visit Skull Base Lab

Nervous System Tumor Bank

The tumor bank provides scientists with high-quality, patient-derived biospecimens to support preclinical and translational neuro-oncology research. Biospecimens include tissues, cells, blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Visit Tumor Bank

Cancer Cores & Facilities

The Lurie Cancer Center funds shared services, equipment and expertise that are fundamental to understanding the basic biology and clinical manifestations of cancer.

Visit Cancer Center Cores

Stephen M. Coffman Imaging Site

The laboratory technology at this site helps Feinberg scientists study cancer cells faster and in more detail, thanks to the support of the Stephen M. Coffman Charitable Trust.

Read About the Site
Breakthroughs in Brain Tumor Research

Never miss news and discoveries from our team on brain and spine tumor health.

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