Message from the Director

Message From the Director

David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, Director of the Washington University NF Center

During our twelfth year as a multi-disciplinary clinical care and research enterprise, the Washington University Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center has many new developments to report.
In 2016, two of our research trainees, Dr. Stephanie Morris (Pediatric Neurology) and Dr. Angela Hirbe (Medical Oncology), have joined us as medical school faculty, while Dr. Kimberly Johnson (Brown School of Social Work) was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.
There has also been exciting progress in our understanding of neurofibromatosis, with numerous researchers in the Washington University NF Center publishing new discoveries. These include advances in our understanding of autism in NF1, the importance of the NF1 gene mutation in brain tumor formation, and how non-cancerous cells control optic glioma growth. In addition, we continue to expand our unique collection of resources essential to making these advances, including the NF1 Genome Project, used to discover subtle DNA changes that might one day serve to predict the risk of developing an optic glioma in a child with NF1, and the NF1 Brain Trust, employed to find potential markers for learning and behavioral problems in NF1.
The clinical care program celebrated the addition of Dr. Stephanie Morris, a new nurse coordinator, Erika Ramirez, and a new clinical research coordinator, Jennifer Traber, all dedicated to improving the care we provide for individuals with NF1. Over the past year, we have also fortified our complementary care programs, including the bimonthly Club NF program for school-age children, the Beat NF jazz music motor therapy program for toddlers, and the Teen NF social skills therapy program for adolescents.
In addition, we welcomed a delegation of Missouri State House Representatives to meet our researchers, clinicians, and families. During this session, they learned more about NF, and how the Washington University NF Center is working to improve the lives of people affected with neurofibromatosis. Finally, we hosted the third Washington University NF Center Research Symposium on April 1, 2016, with Dr. Alcino Silva (University of California, Los Angeles) and Dr. David Largaespada (University of Minnesota) as keynote speakers.
Looking forward to 2017, as we expand our research initiatives aimed at developing personalized medical approaches for people affected with NF, we are grateful for the continued partnership with our patients and their families who make these high-risk, high-payoff ventures possible.
To learn more about NF Center achievements and advances in 2016, check out our Annual Report.