Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

Dr. Roy Joins Research Team Investigating Improved Care for Patients with Brain Cancer


The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center recently awarded a grant to an interdisciplinary team of researchers — including Ishan Roy, MD, PhD, attending physician, Cancer Rehabilitation Clinic, and research scientist — to improve care for patients with glioblastoma (GBM), a fast-growing type of brain cancer.

With approximately 12,000 new diagnoses in the United States each year, GBM is the most common type of brain cancer. Dr. Roy said this diagnosis is representative of a high percentage of patients with brain tumors who are treated at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

The new Lurie Cancer Center research team will be led by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Derek Wainwright, PhD, and Theresa Walunas, PhD. In addition to Dr. Roy, the team also includes other Feinberg researchers with expertise in geroscience, neuroimmunology, neuro-oncology, biomedical informatics and social sciences.

"This team was created top-down by leaders at the Lurie Cancer Center who wanted to accelerate translational research on GBM. A fraction of patients with GBM do not respond to classic treatments as well as others; one of the common themes among them is that they tend to be older," Dr. Roy said. "The focus of this team is to determine the relationship between age and GBM, and to find new ways of treating these patients so that they have better outcomes."

Dr. Roy said the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Catalyst Grant that he received in 2020 to research cachexia — a muscle-wasting syndrome that can lead to functional decline in people who have chronic diseases such as cancer — made his participation in this new project possible.

"We will apply the techniques we used in my lab to study cachexia to now study brain cancer," he said. "The Catalyst Grant program gives young investigators like me a chance to generate preliminary data. It allows us to think outside of the box in a way that typical funding might not facilitate."