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Neuron-glial interactions in health and disease: from cognition to cancer - Michelle Monje

Michelle Monje
October 8, 2020 - 9:10am to 9:55am

Michelle Monje, PhD

Associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences
Stanford University


Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University and then completed her residency training in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Partners program. She returned to Stanford for a clinical fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology and a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Philip Beachy.

Dr. Monje is a neuroscientist and practicing pediatric neuro-oncologist whose research program focuses at the intersection of neuroscience and brain cancer biology. Her work has focused on neuron-glial interactions in health and oncological disease. Her lab demonstrated that neuronal activity regulates healthy glial precursor cell proliferation, new oligodendrocyte generation and adaptive myelination (Gibson et al., 2014 Science) and that this plasticity of myelin contributes to healthy cognitive function (Geraghty et al, 2019 Neuron; Steadman et al., 2019 Neuron). She discovered that neuronal activity similarly promotes the proliferation of malignant glioma cells, driving glioma growth through both paracrine factors and through electrophysiologically functional neuron-to-glioma synapses (Venkatesh et al., 2015, Cell; Venkatesh et al., 2017 Nature; Venkatesh et al., 2019 Nature). In addition to these studies of mature neurons in the glioma microenvironment, her research program also study the influences of neural precursor cells on malignant glioma (Qin et al., 2017, Cell). Microglial interactions with neurons and neural precursor cells and microglial-mediated disruption of neuroplasticity mechanisms underlying cognitive function following cancer therapies is another area of deep focus (Monje et al, 2002, Nature Medicine, Monje et al, 2003, Science, Monje et al, 2007, Annals of Neurology, Gibson et al., 2019 Cell; Geraghty et al, 2019 Neuron). Together with these basic studies, her research program executes preclinical studies of novel therapeutics for pediatric high-grade gliomas (Grasso et al, 2015, Nature Medicine; Nagaraja et al, 2017, Cancer Cell; Mount et al, 2018 Nature Medicine; Lin et al, 2019 Science Translational Medicine) and cancer therapy-related cognitive impairment (Gibson et al., 2019 Cell; Geraghty et al, 2019 Neuron) in order to translate new therapies to the clinic. She has led several of her discoveries to national, cooperative clinical trials for children with brain tumors.

Dr. Monje is recognized as an international leader in the pathophysiology of childhood gliomas, especially diffuse midline gliomas and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Her work has been recognized by numerous honors, including a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (DP1), the Sidney Carter Award in Child Neurology and the Jerome Posner Neuro-Oncology Investigator Award, from the American Academy of Neurology. She is on the editorial advisory board for multiple academic journals, including Cancer Cell, Neuron and Neuro-Oncology.