Brain tumors are heterogeneous cancers in which 50% of the cells in the tumor are non-neoplastic (stromal) cells. Over the past decade, we have employed a variety of genetic and pharmacological methods to firmly establish that microglia (macrophage-like cells) in the brain are critical for low-grade glioma formation and growth in mice. Leveraging advanced RNA-sequencing methods and novel mathematical approaches, we have begun to identify the stromal signals that dictate glioma growth in vivo and define the tumor microenvironment.

Current projects in the Gutmann research laboratory are focused on understanding the role of microglia and chemokine networks in maintaining both NF1-associated and sporadic pediatric low-grade glioma growth, applying mathematical approaches to characterize the low-grade glioma ecosystem in human and mouse tumors, defining the stromal requirements necessary for low-grade glioma stem cell engraftment (patient-derived xenografts) and creating new reagents to investigate the functions of microglia in health and disease.