Damon Runyon Researchers

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Sarah J. Pfau, PhD

Dr. Pfau aims to identify the molecular regulators of blood-brain barrier heterogeneity. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the brain from harmful substances to ensure proper brain function. Consequently, the BBB renders many cancer therapeutics ineffective for treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumors, as drugs that effectively treat cancer in the rest of the body cannot efficiently enter the brain. She seeks to better understand how the BBB functions by characterizing the “windows of the brain,” regions where the barrier is naturally more open to allow communication between the brain and the rest of the body through the bloodstream. In determining how the BBB is altered in these regions, she anticipates that her work will identify key molecular regulators that the brain naturally uses to open the blood-brain barrier and thus provide insight into how it can be modulated to promote drug delivery to tumors in the brain.

Project title: "Investigating the molecular determinants of blood-brain barrier heterogeneity"
Institution: Harvard Medical School
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Chenghua Gu, PhD
Cancer Type: Brain
Research Area: Neuroscience