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This provides a completely new approach to treating brain tumors, and with that comes hope of advancing care and improving survival.”

Dominique Higgins, MD, PhD - UNC Neurosurgery
Neurosurgical oncologist, Dominique Higgins, MD, PhD

UNC Neurosurgery’s neurosurgical oncologist Dr. Dominique Higgins will receive an award from the Neurosurgeon Research Career Development Program (NRCDP) to fund his study of the metabolomics of post-treatment recurrent glioma.

This NIH/NINDS K12 national award will focus on the ferroptosis cell death pathway in recurrent glioma. Ferroptosis is the process of peroxidation of lipids, which promotes tumor cell death. Dr. Higgins’ research suggests that the metabolic landscape of recurrent glioma changes with tumor progression, and ferroptosis-inducing therapies are effective against treatment resistant cells. “We are taking a novel approach to treating tumors, by targeting a recently discovered pathway for attacking tumor cells and enhancing it with dietary strategies,” said Dr. Higgins.

The award will provide funding for two years of research. Dr. Higgins will evaluate the impact of ferroptosis-inducing therapy on recurrent glioblastoma. “We are aiming to begin the clinical trial by the end of the year,” said Dr. Higgins.

Ferroptosis is a novel area of research in glioblastoma. Dr. Higgins’ research may provide new therapeutic approaches to recurrent glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive brain tumor in adults.

Dr. Dominique Higgins - UNC Health Brain Tumor ResearchUNC Medical Center continues to lead the way in glioblastoma research with ongoing clinical trials and grant-funded research in hopes of finding more effective treatment options for this fatal brain tumor. “This provides a completely new approach to treating brain tumors, and with that comes hope of advancing care and improving survival,” said Dr. Higgins.

Dr. Higgins developed an interest in glioblastoma metabolism cell death during his residency and post-doctoral training at Columbia/New York Presbyterian, and during his brain tumor fellowship at the University of Miami. He specializes in neurosurgical oncology and in the treatment of brain tumors. His research focus is the treatment of malignant brain tumors, including glioblastoma.

Dr. Higgins is also involved in the current CAR-T clinical trials for glioblastoma patients at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, NC.


Written by: Makenzie Hardy, Marketing Coordinator, UNC Health Department of Neurosurgery