Pedro R. Lowenstein, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of neurosurgery and cell and developmental biology at the University of Michigan. He received his M.D. and Ph.D from the School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has held research positions at Johns Hopkins, the National Institutes of Health and Oxford University (United Kingdom). He then became professor of molecular medicine and gene therapy at the School of Medicine, University of Manchester, England, where he pioneered the development and implementation of a novel immunotherapy approach to treat malignant brain cancers in adults and children.
In 2001, Dr. Lowenstein became a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles, before moving to the University of Michigan Medical School in 2011, where he now holds the Richard Schneider Collegiate Professorship in the Department of Neurosurgery.
The focus of Dr. Lowenstein’s research program is to discover the cellular, molecular, and structural basis of malignant glioma growth and invasion, the role of glioblastoma (GBM) derived micro RNAs into the tumor microenvironment, GBM stem cell microbiology, tumor derived double-stranded DNA and the STING signaling pathway. Dr. Lowenstein is pioneering the implementation of patient derived xenograft models using tissue derived from human glioma patients, including pediatric patients with diffuse intrinsic brainstem glioma (DIPG). His team is establishing patient derived GBM cell cultures in the lab to test novel small molecule chemotherapeutics which can be immediately translated to the clinic.
Dr. Lowenstein is also interested in understanding glioma-immune interactions in order to develop novel therapies to treat patients suffering from this rapidly progressive disease. A novel strategy to combat brain tumors that reprograms the brain immune system (endogenous immunotherapy) to attack and destroy malignant brain tumor cells, recently approved by the FDA, is now being tested in human clinical trials in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan.
Maria G. Castro, Ph.D., is the R.C. Schneider Collegiate
Professor of Neurosurgery and a professor of cell and
developmental biology at the University of Michigan
Medical School. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry
from the National University of LaPlata in Buenos
Aires in 1986. Shortly after, she was awarded a Fogarty
International Fellowship to continue her training as a
postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health
in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Castro held faculty positions
at the University of Wales College of Cardiff, and was a
professor of medicine at the University of Manchester,
England. In 2001, she was appointed professor of
molecular and medical pharmacology at the University
of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine with a
joint appointment as professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Castro joined the University of Michigan in 2011 as a professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Cell and Developmental Biology.
Dr. Castro is a world leader in glioma immune-microenvironment and development of novel anti-GBM immunotherapies. Her research focuses on uncovering the role of oncometabolites in the brain tumor microenvironment and epigenetic reprogramming. Her team is developing novel models of pediatric malignant glioma, including DIPG. She is aiming to use these genetically engineered murine models to uncover molecular mechanisms that mediate tumor progression and implement novel therapeutic approaches which will ultimately be translated to human clinical trials.
Dr. Castro’s team is also developing novel immunotherapies for primary and metastatic brain cancer, studying basic immune-biology mechanisms leading to clinical implementation. They are investigating the role of the tumor immune-microenvironment in tumor progression and response to therapeutics; crosstalk between cancer cells and hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and mechanisms affecting the migration of immune cells from peripheral lymphoid organs to the tumor microenvironment. Her innovative work has led to an FDA approved gene therapy phase 1 clinical trial for malignant brain cancer which is ongoing in the University of Michigan Department of Neurosurgery.