Margaret Wrensch

Margaret Wrensch, PhD

Principal Investigator

Research Interests: genetic and molecular epidemiology of adult glioma

Dr. Wrensch started one of the first large-scale, population-based epidemiologic studies of adult glioma in 1991 and has since served as principal investigator of this continuing NCI-funded grant studying genetic and molecular epidemiology of adult glioma. She has led and collaborated on a number of glioma research initiatives since then.

In 2009, Dr. Wrensch’s lab completed one of the first genome wide association studies of adult glioma, in which they identified several glioma risk loci. In 2012, they discovered a glioma risk allele that confers a six-fold risk of oligodendroglial tumors and IDH-mutated astrocytomas. In 2015, her research group published another study in collaboration with Dr. Robert Jenkins at the Mayo Clinic that defined five glioma molecular groups based on 1p/19q co-deletion, IDH mutation, and mutations in the TERT promoter that appear to have distinct mechanisms of pathogenesis and that account for over 95% of grade II-IV gliomas. In conjunction with Dr. Melissa Bondy and others in the Glioma International Case-Control Consortium, many new additional inherited risk variants for glioma have been discovered. Currently, Dr. Wrensch is leading a genome wide association study of glioma survival and participating in immunomethylomic studies of glioma.

Dr. Wrensch has also been a co-investigator for other multi-site studies of familial glioma risk, genetic epidemiology of lung cancer, meningioma, and childhood leukemia and breast cancer epidemiology. She is a leader in the brain tumor epidemiology research community, having served as U.S. Co-President of the Brain Tumor Epidemiology Consortium and been awarded the Society of Neuro-oncology Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.


Education and Training

1971: BSc, Ohio State University
1973: MSc, Ohio State University
1977: MPH, University of California, Berkeley
1983: PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Academic Positions

1985-1986: Assistant Research Epidemiologist, UCSF
1986-Present: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF
1993-1995: Chief, Division of Epidemiology at the Parnassus Campus, UCSF
2001: Interim Head, Cancer Epidemiology Division, UCSF
2004-present: Co-director Neuroepidemiology Division, UCSF

Selected Awards

2016: Society of Neuro-Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award
2005-Present: Stanley D. Lewis and Virginia S. Lewis Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research
2003: Susan Love MD Breast Cancer Foundation, Otto W. Sartorius, MD Award for Excellence in Research
2003: Marin Breast Cancer Watch, Community Breast Cancer Research Award
2000: Society of Neuro-oncology/American Brain Tumor Foundation Award for Excellence in Epidemiology, 5th Annual Meeting