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Dr. Mark Gilbert Earns American Brain Tumor Association’s Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award

, by Raleigh McElvery, Neuro-Oncology Branch Scientific Communications Editor

Headshot of Mark Gilbert

Dr. Gilbert earned the ABTA's 2022 Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award for his leadership.


The Neuro-Oncology Branch chief was recognized for his work spearheading brain tumor research collaborations and expanding clinical trial access.

The American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) has awarded this year’s Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award to Mark Gilbert, M.D., chief and senior investigator at the NCI Center for Cancer Research’s Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB). As the ABTA’s highest honor, the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the association’s mission through philanthropy, advocacy, discovery, or patient care. The award presentation will take place on September 10 during the ABTA’s National Conference.

Established in 2011, the Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award pays tribute to its namesake, Joel A. Gingras Jr., who passed away in 1988 from complications after surgery to remove a rare, benign brain tumor called a choroid plexus papilloma. The accolade is also a testament to the Gingras family and their mission to support researchers like Dr. Gilbert—who are working to make clinical research more accessible and accelerate advancements in neuro-oncology.

“For his commitment to the ABTA National Conference and more importantly, for his focus on research collaboration and expansion of clinical trial access, the ABTA is proud to recognize Dr. Gilbert for his leadership,” says the ABTA’s chief mission officer, Nicole Willmarth, Ph.D. 

Over the course of his career, Dr. Gilbert has spearheaded both national and international clinical trial initiatives. Prior to arriving at the NOB in 2014, Dr. Gilbert held academic research positions at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and Emory University, as well as an endowed professorship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. During this time, he established a multi-center clinical trial consortium called the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC), which he continues to oversee today. In 2006, he helped start another consortium, the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) Foundation, to support basic science, clinical trials, and patient outcomes research across North America and Europe. 

The ABTA is proud to recognize Dr. Gilbert for his leadership.

Nicole Willmarth, Ph.D., ABTA Chief Mission Officer

At the NOB, Dr. Gilbert leads the branch’s Translational Immunotherapy Research Program, developing combination therapies to increase immune cell recruitment to the tumor site and improve patient selection in clinical trials. He also leads a precision medicine research program, which utilizes basic and computational biology to develop synthetic lethal drug pairs that target cancer cells, in hopes of eventually offering more patients effective therapeutic options. 

“This is truly a great honor to be recognized by the ABTA," Dr. Gilbert says. "It's an organization that has made such a strong impact in improving the outcomes of patients with brain tumors through patient and caregiver education, research funding support, and partnerships with health care providers.” 

Dr. Gilbert has collaborated with the ABTA over the last decade, speaking at webinars, participating in mock tumor boards at the annual National Conference, and co-chairing patient and family meetings. He also helped to facilitate a partnership between the ABTA and NCI-CONNECT (the Comprehensive Oncology Network Evaluating Rare CNS Tumors), a Cancer Moonshot℠ initiative fostering patient-advocacy-provider partnerships to improve approaches to care and treatment. Most recently, he engaged in talks with ABTA research staff to establish a program for NCI Fellows.

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