David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor and vice chair for research affairs in the Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is a recipient of the 2020 Neuro-oncology Scientific Award from the American Academy of Neurology. The award recognizes singular scientific achievement that has advanced the field of neuro-oncology.
For more than 25 years, Gutmann has dedicated his academic career to genetic causes of childhood brain tumors, specifically the neurofibromatosis (NF) cancer predisposition syndromes, a set of complex genetic disorders that cause tumors to grow on nerves in the brain and throughout the body. He established a clinical program for NF at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1994 and the Washington University NF Center in 2004. His work on NF has broad implications to neuro-oncology, ranging from defining the cells of origin for these cancers to elucidating the role of immune cells in tumor formation and growth, and in vision loss linked to brain tumors. In addition, Gutmann and his colleagues have leveraged human stem cells and genetically engineered mice to define the factors that underlie disease risk, with a goal of improving precision medicine for this variable disease.