Explore UAB

Connect With Us Subscribe to newsletter
Connect With Us Subscribe to newsletter
Van Meir News Article Lead Image 2In the race to find a cure for brain cancer, research scientists play a pivotal role in driving innovation and uncovering breakthroughs. While Brain Tumor Awareness Month is observed each May, scientists and neuro-oncology professionals worldwide continue to make strides in understanding and combating brain tumors.  
Erwin Van Meir, Ph.D., senior scientist and David Hart White Endowed Professor in the UAB Department of Neurosurgery, leads a dynamic laboratory dedicated to brain cancer research.
Running a brain cancer research laboratory is a complex and multifaceted endeavor, one that Van Meir describes as a small business of sorts. 
“Oftentimes people ask me, ‘What is it to run a research lab?,’” said Van Meir. “A way to think about it is like you are running a small business, like a little bakery. We are not directly selling bread or croissants, but our products are ideas on how to create the pastries of the future.”
The Van Meir lab, which sits within the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and the UAB Department of Neurosurgery, strives to understand the molecular basis for human tumor development to identify new drug “recipes” for targeting them. Van Meir’s research team aims to translate these candidate treatments into clinical trials with the hope to improve cancer patient treatment.
As Brain Tumor Awareness Month unfolds, it is essential to acknowledge the invaluable contributions made by research scientists like Van Meir.
“To raise the funds to create these pastries, we have to submit our ideas in the form of new recipes to funding agencies. If they like what we propose, we receive funds that pay for the bakery facilities, supplies to try the new recipes, junior pastry chefs and apprentice bakers to test the recipes out.
If one of our new experimental croissants is successful, we write the recipe up and submit it for publication in a recipe book, which we call scientific publications.”
When research is published in a scientific publication, all the information becomes publicly accessible to the scientific community so the newfound knowledge can be further expanded and developed into treatment therapies. 
Van Meir says that helping patients is his “ultimate goal.” 
Brain Tumor Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of ongoing research efforts and the crucial dedication of the scientists, like those on Van Meir’s team, working to unlock the mysteries of brain tumors. 

About the Van Meir Lab

The Van Meir laboratory comprises 1,900 square feet and is located at the Wallace Tumor Institute building, part of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center (OCCC) at UAB. The OCCC is Alabama’s only cancer center designated by the NCI and is a national leader in driving cancer research, advancing new cancer treatments, engaging communities in cancer prevention and early detection initiatives and training the next generation of cancer physicians and scientists.

His research has generated more than 200 scientific publications in high-impact international peer-reviewed journals and represents monumental strides towards understanding many cancers and developing new treatments. Clinical trials based on Van Meir's discoveries hope to shed light on novel cancer treatment options and medications.

Learn more about Van Meir's current studies. 

Join the Van Meir lab.

Visit the Van Meir lab website.