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Inaugural UCSF CNS Metastasis Symposium Highlights Research, Clinical Opportunities

This summer, physicians, scientists, and trainees came together for the inaugural UC San Francisco Central Nervous System Metastasis Symposium. All the recorded talks from this event focused on the latest in treatments for and research in CNS metastatic disease are now available for viewing on the UCSF Neurosurgery YouTube channel.

Neuro-oncologist John de Groot, MD, opened the event acknowledging that patients with a metastatic brain tumor have a poor prognosis. “The overall vision is to serve as a leading CNS metastasis tumor program – not only nationally but internationally – through clinical excellence, innovation, and clinical and translational research for treatment, early detection, and prevention of tumors metastatic to the CNS,” he said.

The opening session focused clinical perspectives to managing CNS metastatic disease.

  • Oncologist Adil Daud, MD, discussed the mechanisms driving PD-1 resistance in melanoma.
  • Neuro-oncologist Mariza Daras, MD, spoke about the challenge of getting therapies across the blood-brain barrier and the promise of new upcoming clinical trials at the UCSF Brain Tumor Center using focused ultrasound.
  • Radiation oncologist Steve Braunstein, MD, PhD, gave an overview of how brachytherapy, a type of radiation therapy, can be safely and effectively used to treat brain metastasis.
  • Neurosurgeon Manish Aghi, MD, PhD, talked about how physicians can treat metastatic brain tumors with laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT).
  • Neuroradiologist Javier Villanueva-Meyer, MD, talked about how the use of MRI and PET imaging is helping detect and characterize brain metastasis.

The second session was devoted to discussing preclinical and translational research efforts on campus.

  • Eric Small, MD, deputy director of the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, gave a short overview on the potential of developing a transdisciplinary CNS metastasis research hub.
  • Postdoctoral scholar Hugo Gonzalez Velozo, PhD spoke about his recently published findings in Cell using single-cell profiling to identify two distinct brain metastasis archetypes.
  • Laura Huppert, MD, an assistant clinical professor in the Division of Hematology Oncology, and postdoctoral scholar Chris Im, PhD, co-presented their research characterizing the cerebral spinal fluid and peripheral blood mononuclear cell immune profiles in patients with known or suspected leptomeningeal disease.
  • Radiation oncologist Harish Vasudevan, MD, PhD, discussed his molecular analyses of resected melanoma brain metastasis.
  • Neuropathologist Joanna Phillips, MD, PhD, talked about the Neurosurgery Biorepository’s critical role as a resource for translational research.

In the day’s final session, three UCSF trainees presented their research.

  • UCSF chief neurosurgery resident Ramin Morshed, MD, spoke about how machine learning is helping identify risk factors associated with leptomeningeal disease after the surgical resection of brain metastases.
  • Radiation oncology resident physician, Lisa Ni, MD, presented on the use of combination approaches to treat brain metastases in EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer.
  • William Chen, MD, a radiation oncology resident, talked about the safety and efficacy of using stereotactic radiosurgery for brain metastasis.

Daras, who also served as the symposium co-director, gave the day’s closing remarks highlighting future areas for growth and collaboration in CNS metastasis at UCSF.