Karen S. Aboody, M.D.

Research performed at: City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
Specialty/Research Area: Brain Cancer, Stem Cell
Award Year: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2003
Career Summary: Dr. Aboody currently runs a translational laboratory at City of Hope focused on therapeutic stem cell applications for invasive brain tumors and metastatic solid cancers. STOP CANCER and the Smalley family were the first to fund her research program at City of Hope, giving her laboratory a great start. They have continued to generously support her work to present.

In 2010, she received FDA approval for a first-in-human clinical trial for neural stem cell-mediated enzyme/prodrug therapy for patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. This phase I study is currently ongoing at COH, supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute-National Institutes of Health.  In 2010, she also received an $18MM California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Disease Team Award to develop a second-generation stem cell-mediated cancer therapy for clinical trials. This treatment strategy may have applications for metastatic solid tumors as well as brain cancer.
Dr. Aboody received her MD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and completed her post-doctoral training in Molecular Neurogenetics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where she ran pre-clinical studies for a subsequent HSV-TK gene therapy brain tumor clinical trial.  She held positions as Senior Scientist with Layton BioScience, Inc., and as Visiting Scientist and Instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she investigated clinical applications of stem cells for brain tumors, stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. She received the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Young Investigator award in 2000, and the American Society of Gene Therapy Outstanding New Investigator Award in 2008. She recently founded a biotechnology company, TheraBiologics, Inc., to support continued clinical development and patient trials.
Year STOP CANCER Award was received:  2003 RCDA, 2006‒2014 Sandy and Marvin Smalley Seed Grant Award in Memory of Isadore Familian
Description of research performed:  Neural stem cells have the ability to detect lesions within the brain and migrate to them. With support from STOP CANCER and others, City of Hope is committing considerable resources to developing new cancer therapies using stem cells. Dr. Aboody’s work has concentrated on delivering gene-based therapies directly to brain tumors using neural stem cells.
Results of research:  With the combined expertise of City of Hope scientists, and the pharmaceutical manufacturing capability of the City of Hope Center for Biomedicine & Genetics, Dr. Aboody is refining techniques that will expand the beneficial uses of neural stem cells in various cancer treatments. More recently, in a landmark brain tumor clinical trial being conducted at City of Hope, a patient was the first in the world to be treated with a neural stem cell-based therapy, developed by Dr. Aboody, that uses the stem cell’s natural ability to home in on cancer cells to deliver treatment directly to the tumor site.