- Internship/Residency - University of Toronto Hospitals, Canada (1993-1996), Internal Medicine
- Fellowship - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (1996-1999), Hematology Oncology
- Medical School - McGill University Faculty of Medicine (1989-1993)
- Graduate School - McGill University Faculty of Medicine (1984-1989), Physiology
Elizabeth Maher, M.D., Ph.D.
- Theodore H. Strauss Professorship in Neuro-Oncology
- Internal Medicine - Hematology/Oncology
- Brain & Spinal Cord Cancer
After earning her medical degree at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Maher completed an internship in medicine as well as junior and senior residencies in internal medicine at The Toronto Hospital in Toronto, Canada. She then performed a medical oncology fellowship and subspecialty neuro-oncology training at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.
Dr. Maher also completed a Heart and Stroke Foundation medical scientist fellowship at the McGill University Department of Physiology and a seven-year research fellowship in the Department of Adult Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Maher served for more than six years as an instructor in internal medicine at the Harvard Medical School Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She joined UT Southwestern in 2006 as an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Neurology at Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and has served as an Associate Professor since 2009.
Dr. Maher is an educator and mentor for UT Southwestern medical students and residents on topics including brain tumor biology and clinical management, magnetic resonance imaging and translational research of malignant glioma, and palliative care for young brain tumor patients.
In 2006 Dr. Maher became the Medical Director of the UT Southwestern Neuro-Oncology Program, serving in this role for seven years. Since 2013 she has served as the program’s Director of Translational Research and the Director of the Crystal Charity Ball Center for Pediatric Brain and Neurological Diseases at UT Southwestern.
Among numerous recognitions, Dr. Maher has received awards and honors from organizations such as Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Goldhirsh Foundation, McGill University, Sigma Xi, and Women’s College Hospital.
Dr. Maher is a principal investigator or co-author of several ongoing research studies on glioma and related topics funded by entities including the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute. She has also participated in research studies published in journals such as Nature Medicine, Nature, Cell, Cell Metabolism, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cancer Research, and Cell Reports.
Dr. Maher has authored chapters on neoplasms of the central nervous system for medical textbooks including the Diagnostic Atlas of Oncology. She is an ad hoc reviewer for journals including Science, Scientific Reports, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Neuro-oncology, Cancer Research, and Neuro-oncology.
Dr. Maher has presented on brain tumor topics at national and international conferences, meetings, symposiums, and grand rounds for organizations including the American Association of Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, New York Academy of Sciences, Pezcoller Foundation, International Society of Cancer Metabolism, and institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Yale University, Weill Cornell Medical Center, Vanderbilt, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Meet Dr. Maher
Brain Tumor Specialist in Dallas
UT Southwestern medical oncologist Elizabeth Maher, M.D., Ph.D., specializes in low-grade gliomas – a family of malignancies that affect the glia, or supportive tissues, of the brain. Though they represent only about one in four of all brain tumors, the majority of gliomas are malignant. About half of gliomas are the late-stage, aggressive malignancies known as glioblastomas.
The Director of UT Southwestern’s translational research program in Neuro-Oncology, Dr. Maher devotes much of her time to research while continuing to provide patient care alongside colleagues in medical oncology, radiation oncology, and neurosurgery.
“We are waging a war against these tumor cells,” Dr. Maher says. “So the questions we ask are, ‘What is in our arsenal, and when will we deploy it?’ Just as in a well-planned military mission, we are going to move in slowly with the right equipment, evaluate the situation carefully, and then act on that information.”
UT Southwestern physician-scientists like Dr. Maher monitor gliomas with leading-edge imaging techniques that precisely identify the biomarkers of each tumor.
“While we’re tracking gliomas, we’re also working on how to kill their cells,” she says. “For example, we’re looking at ways to ‘cut the fuel line’ that provides the metabolic energy these tumors need to survive. You can have a fancy sports car in your driveway, but if the gas tank is empty, it’s not going anywhere.”
Offering Hope Through Research
While the diagnosis of any type of brain cancer is frightening, Dr. Maher has a powerful message for glioma patients: There is hope. Ongoing advances in the biomedical understanding of these tumors are paving the way for highly personalized treatments.
Just as importantly, she emphasizes, there is time – time to obtain a precise diagnosis and develop a customized plan of care for each patient’s specific condition and needs.
“The average survival for patients with low grade (Grade 2) gliomas is about 10 years after diagnosis,” Dr. Maher says. During much of that time, she explains, a patient’s brain scans appear stable because the tumor cells are mostly dormant (not actively replicating).
In addition, certain gliomas have recently been discovered to have a genetic mutation affecting a metabolic enzyme called IDH (isocitrate dehydrogenase), which is associated with a better outcome than non-mutated IDH.
Dr. Maher and her colleagues in the Advanced Research Imaging Center at UT Southwestern have developed a powerful method for detecting 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG), a chemical produced by IDH-mutant gliomas. The team uses an MRI scan that incorporates 2HG imaging to make the diagnosis of an IDH-mutant glioma, which allows them to give a prognosis and follow the patient’s progress during treatment.
Dr. Maher views the first few years following a low-grade glioma diagnosis as a window of opportunity to create a detailed molecular profile of the tumor, pinpoint the optimum time to begin treatment, and then enroll the patient in the most appropriate clinical trials available at that time.
Pursuing a Positive Prognosis
Dr. Maher notes that a positive attitude is extremely helpful for glioma patients.
“An increasing number of patients will do well, and we don’t want them to waste precious time feeling discouraged, especially when the research is yielding such important new findings.
“There is also a major therapeutic benefit in understanding what you’ve got, believing you will do well, and trusting the team that is treating you,” she says. “Things are changing rapidly, and UT Southwestern is at the forefront of these advances.”
One of Dr. Maher’s patients was diagnosed with glioblastoma nine years ago – a year before the IDH mutation associated with a better prognosis for glioma patients was identified. Recently he was confirmed to have the mutation. “He has gone on with his life and done really well,” she says, “but imagine if I had been able to tell him how good his chances were when he was first diagnosed.”
Another patient, a woman in her late 20s, was devastated upon being diagnosed with glioma while receiving a brain scan following a minor auto accident.
“We determined that she has the IDH mutation and 2HG can be detected by MRI,” says Dr. Maher. “So we talked about how we are going to evaluate and monitor her tumor, then determine the treatment techniques and timing. She is very glad to have a detailed diagnosis, a positive prognosis, a good way to monitor the tumor with imaging, and a clear plan.”
The most important message, Dr. Maher stresses, is that if you or a loved one is diagnosed with glioma, “There is hardly ever a need to rush immediately into treatment. Everyone needs a second opinion and a short- and long-range plan before starting treatment."
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (2001)
- Society for Neuro-Oncology (2003)
Phase II trial of thalidomide and carmustine for patients with recurrent high-grade gliomas.
Fine HA, Wen PY, Maher EA, Viscosi E, Batchelor T, Lakhani N, Figg WD, Purow BW, Borkowf CB Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2003 Jun 21 12 2299-304
Antiprimer quenching-based real-time PCR and its application to the analysis of clinical cancer samples.
Li J, Wang F, Mamon H, Kulke MH, Harris L, Maher E, Wang L, Makrigiorgos GM Clinical chemistry 2006 Apr 52 4 624-33
A genome-wide screen reveals functional gene clusters in the cancer genome and identifies EphA2 as a mitogen in glioblastoma.
Liu F, Park PJ, Lai W, Maher E, Chakravarti A, Durso L, Jiang X, Yu Y, Brosius A, Thomas M, Chin L, Brennan C, DePinho RA, Kohane I, Carroll RS, Black PM, Johnson MD Cancer research 2006 Nov 66 22 10815-23
The landscape of somatic copy-number alteration across human cancers.
Beroukhim R, Mermel CH, Porter D, Wei G, Raychaudhuri S, Donovan J, Barretina J, Boehm JS, Dobson J, Urashima M, Mc Henry KT, Pinchback RM, Ligon AH, Cho YJ, Haery L, Greulich H, Reich M, Winckler W, Lawrence MS, Weir BA, Tanaka KE, Chiang DY, Bass AJ, Loo A, Hoffman C, Prensner J, Liefeld T, Gao Q, Yecies D, Signoretti S, Maher E, Kaye FJ, Sasaki H, Tepper JE, Fletcher JA, Tabernero J, Baselga J, Tsao MS, Demichelis F, Rubin MA, Janne PA, Daly MJ, Nucera C, Levine RL, Ebert BL, Gabriel S, Rustgi AK, Antonescu CR, Ladanyi M, Letai A, Garraway LA, Loda M, Beer DG, True LD, Okamoto A, Pomeroy SL, Singer S, Golub TR, Lander ES, Getz G, Sellers WR, Meyerson M Nature 2010 Feb 463 7283 899-905
Measurement of glycine in the human brain in vivo by (1) H-MRS at 3 T: application in brain tumors.
Choi C, Ganji SK, Deberardinis RJ, Dimitrov IE, Pascual JM, Bachoo R, Mickey BE, Malloy CR, Maher EA Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2011 Mar 609-18
A comparative study of short- and long-TE (1) H MRS at 3 T for in vivo detection of 2-hydroxyglutarate in brain tumors.
Choi C, Ganji S, Hulsey K, Madan A, Kovacs Z, Dimitrov I, Zhang S, Pichumani K, Mendelsohn D, Mickey B, Malloy C, Bachoo R, Deberardinis R, Maher E NMR in biomedicine 2013 Apr
(1) H MRS characterization of neurochemical profiles in orthotopic mouse models of human brain tumors.
Hulsey KM, Mashimo T, Banerjee A, Soesbe TC, Spence JS, Vemireddy V, Maher EA, Bachoo RM, Choi C NMR in biomedicine 2014 Nov
In vivo detection of 2-hydroxyglutarate in brain tumors by optimized point-resolved spectroscopy (PRESS) at 7T.
Ganji SK, An Z, Tiwari V, McNeil S, Pinho MC, Pan E, Mickey BE, Maher EA, Choi C Magnetic resonance in medicine 2016 Mar
Prospective Longitudinal Analysis of 2-Hydroxyglutarate Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Identifies Broad Clinical Utility for the Management of Patients With IDH-Mutant Glioma.
Choi C, Raisanen JM, Ganji SK, Zhang S, McNeil SS, An Z, Madan A, Hatanpaa KJ, Vemireddy V, Sheppard CA, Oliver D, Hulsey KM, Tiwari V, Mashimo T, Battiste J, Barnett S, Madden CJ, Patel TR, Pan E, Malloy CR, Mickey BE, Bachoo RM, Maher EA Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2016 Nov 34 33 4030-4039
Oncogenes Activate an Autonomous Transcriptional Regulatory Circuit That Drives Glioblastoma.
Singh DK, Kollipara RK, Vemireddy V, Yang XL, Sun Y, Regmi N, Klingler S, Hatanpaa KJ, Raisanen J, Cho SK, Sirasanagandla S, Nannepaga S, Piccirillo S, Mashimo T, Wang S, Humphries CG, Mickey B, Maher EA, Zheng H, Kim RS, Kittler R, Bachoo RM Cell reports 2017 Jan 18 4 961-976
Intrathecal enzyme replacement therapy reverses cognitive decline in mucopolysaccharidosis type I.
Nestrasil I, Shapiro E, Svatkova A, Dickson P, Chen A, Wakumoto A, Ahmed A, Stehel E, McNeil S, Gravance C, Maher E American journal of medical genetics. Part A 2017 Mar 173 3 780-783
Epidermal growth factor receptor and Ink4a/Arf: convergent mechanisms governing terminal differentiation and transformation along the neural stem cell to astrocyte axis.
Bachoo RM, Maher EA, Ligon KL, Sharpless NE, Chan SS, You MJ, Tang Y, DeFrances J, Stover E, Weissleder R, Rowitch DH, Louis DN, DePinho RA Cancer cell 2002 Apr 1 3 269-77
Molecular diversity of astrocytes with implications for neurological disorders.
Bachoo RM, Kim RS, Ligon KL, Maher EA, Brennan C, Billings N, Chan S, Li C, Rowitch DH, Wong WH, DePinho RA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2004 Jun 101 22 8384-9
DNA amplification method tolerant to sample degradation.
Wang G, Maher E, Brennan C, Chin L, Leo C, Kaur M, Zhu P, Rook M, Wolfe JL, Makrigiorgos GM Genome research 2004 Nov 14 11 2357-66
Phase I/II study of imatinib mesylate for recurrent malignant gliomas: North American Brain Tumor Consortium Study 99-08.
Wen PY, Yung WK, Lamborn KR, Dahia PL, Wang Y, Peng B, Abrey LE, Raizer J, Cloughesy TF, Fink K, Gilbert M, Chang S, Junck L, Schiff D, Lieberman F, Fine HA, Mehta M, Robins HI, DeAngelis LM, Groves MD, Puduvalli VK, Levin V, Conrad C, Maher EA, Aldape K, Hayes M, Letvak L, Egorin MJ, Capdeville R, Kaplan R, Murgo AJ, Stiles C, Prados MD Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 2006 Aug 12 16 4899-907
Marked genomic differences characterize primary and secondary glioblastoma subtypes and identify two distinct molecular and clinical secondary glioblastoma entities.
Maher EA, Brennan C, Wen PY, Durso L, Ligon KL, Richardson A, Khatry D, Feng B, Sinha R, Louis DN, Quackenbush J, Black PM, Chin L, DePinho RA Cancer research 2006 Dec 66 23 11502-13
Brain metastasis: opportunities in basic and translational research.
Maher EA, Mietz J, Arteaga CL, DePinho RA, Mohla S Cancer research 2009 Aug 69 15 6015-20
The telomerase antagonist, imetelstat, efficiently targets glioblastoma tumor-initiating cells leading to decreased proliferation and tumor growth.
Marian CO, Cho SK, McEllin BM, Maher EA, Hatanpaa KJ, Madden CJ, Mickey BE, Wright WE, Shay JW, Bachoo RM Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 2010 Jan 16 1 154-63
Improvement of resolution for brain coupled metabolites by optimized (1)H MRS at 7T.
Choi C, Dimitrov IE, Douglas D, Patel A, Kaiser LG, Amezcua CA, Maher EA NMR in biomedicine 2010 Nov 23 9 1044-52
T(2) measurement of J-coupled metabolites in the human brain at 3T.
Ganji SK, Banerjee A, Patel AM, Zhao YD, Dimitrov IE, Browning JD, Sherwood Brown E, Maher EA, Choi C NMR in biomedicine 2011 Aug
2-hydroxyglutarate detection by magnetic resonance spectroscopy in IDH-mutated patients with gliomas.
Choi C, Ganji SK, DeBerardinis RJ, Hatanpaa KJ, Rakheja D, Kovacs Z, Yang XL, Mashimo T, Raisanen JM, Marin-Valencia I, Pascual JM, Madden CJ, Mickey BE, Malloy CR, Bachoo RM, Maher EA Nature medicine 2012 Apr 18 4 624-9
Analysis of tumor metabolism reveals mitochondrial glucose oxidation in genetically diverse human glioblastomas in the mouse brain in vivo.
Marin-Valencia I, Yang C, Mashimo T, Cho S, Baek H, Yang XL, Rajagopalan KN, Maddie M, Vemireddy V, Zhao Z, Cai L, Good L, Tu BP, Hatanpaa KJ, Mickey BE, Matés JM, Pascual JM, Maher EA, Malloy CR, Deberardinis RJ, Bachoo RM Cell metabolism 2012 Jun 15 6 827-37
Metabolism of [U-13 C]glucose in human brain tumors in vivo.
Maher EA, Marin-Valencia I, Bachoo RM, Mashimo T, Raisanen J, Hatanpaa KJ, Jindal A, Jeffrey FM, Choi C, Madden C, Mathews D, Pascual JM, Mickey BE, Malloy CR, DeBerardinis RJ NMR in biomedicine 2012 Nov 25 11 1234-44
Glucose metabolism via the pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis and Krebs cycle in an orthotopic mouse model of human brain tumors.
Marin-Valencia I, Cho SK, Rakheja D, Hatanpaa KJ, Kapur P, Mashimo T, Jindal A, Vemireddy V, Good LB, Raisanen J, Sun X, Mickey B, Choi C, Takahashi M, Togao O, Pascual JM, Deberardinis RJ, Maher EA, Malloy CR, Bachoo RM NMR in biomedicine 2012 Oct 25 10 1177-86
In vivo detection of citrate in brain tumors by (1) H magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 3T.
Choi C, Ganji SK, Madan A, Hulsey KM, An Z, Zhang S, Pinho MC, Deberardinis RJ, Bachoo RM, Maher EA Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2013 Oct
Acetate is a bioenergetic substrate for human glioblastoma and brain metastases.
Mashimo T, Pichumani K, Vemireddy V, Hatanpaa KJ, Singh DK, Sirasanagandla S, Nannepaga S, Piccirillo SG, Kovacs Z, Foong C, Huang Z, Barnett S, Mickey BE, DeBerardinis RJ, Tu BP, Maher EA, Bachoo RM Cell 2014 Dec 159 7 1603-14
Proton T2 measurement and quantification of lactate in brain tumors by MRS at 3 Tesla in vivo.
Madan A, Ganji SK, An Z, Choe KS, Pinho MC, Bachoo RM, Maher EM, Choi C Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2014 Jul
In vivo chemical exchange saturation transfer imaging allows early detection of a therapeutic response in glioblastoma.
Sagiyama K, Mashimo T, Togao O, Vemireddy V, Hatanpaa KJ, Maher EA, Mickey BE, Pan E, Sherry AD, Bachoo RM, Takahashi M Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014 Mar 111 12 4542-7
Conditions for (13)C NMR Detection of 2-Hydroxyglutarate in Tissue Extracts from IDH-Mutated Gliomas.
Pichumani K, Mashimo T, Baek HM, Ratnakar J, Mickey B, DeBerardinis RJ, Maher EA, Bachoo RM, Malloy CR, Kovacs Z Analytical biochemistry 2015 Apr
Integration of 2-hydroxyglutarate-proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy into clinical practice for disease monitoring in isocitrate dehydrogenase-mutant glioma.
de la Fuente MI, Young RJ, Rubel J, Rosenblum M, Tisnado J, Briggs S, Arevalo-Perez J, Cross JR, Campos C, Straley K, Zhu D, Dong C, Thomas A, Omuro AA, Nolan CP, Pentsova E, Kaley TJ, Oh JH, Noeske R, Maher E, Choi C, Gutin PH, Holodny AI, Yen K, DeAngelis LM, Mellinghoff IK, Thakur SB Neuro-oncology 2015 Dec
In vivo (1) H MRSI of glycine in brain tumors at 3T.
Ganji SK, Maher EA, Choi C Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2015 Feb
Detection of 2-hydroxyglutarate in brain tumors by triple-refocusing MR spectroscopy at 3T in vivo.
An Z, Ganji SK, Tiwari V, Pinho MC, Patel T, Barnett S, Pan E, Mickey BE, Maher EA, Choi C Magnetic resonance in medicine 2016 Jul
Hepatic gluconeogenesis influences (13)C enrichment in lactate in human brain tumors during metabolism of [1,2-(13)C]acetate.
Pichumani K, Mashimo T, Vemireddy V, Kovacs Z, Ratnakar J, Mickey B, Malloy CR, DeBerardinis RJ, Bachoo RM, Maher EA Neurochemistry international 2016 Mar
Rapid progression to glioblastoma in a subset of IDH-mutated astrocytomas: a genome-wide analysis.
Richardson TE, Snuderl M, Serrano J, Karajannis MA, Heguy A, Oliver D, Raisanen JM, Maher EA, Pan E, Barnett S, Cai C, Habib AA, Bachoo RM, Hatanpaa KJ Journal of neuro-oncology 2017 Apr
Noninvasive assessment of isocitrate dehydrogenase mutation status in cerebral gliomas by magnetic resonance spectroscopy in a clinical setting.
Tietze A, Choi C, Mickey B, Maher EA, Parm Ulhøi B, Sangill R, Lassen-Ramshad Y, Lukacova S, Østergaard L, von Oettingen G Journal of neurosurgery 2017 Mar 1-8
- Phase II trial of thalidomide and carmustine for patients with recurrent high-grade gliomas.
- Role of altered metabolism in the progression of malignant gliomas.
- Primary and metastatic brain tumors
- Development of improved imaging techniques for brain tumors
- Brain & Spinal Cord Cancer
- Medical Treatment of Brain & Spinal Cord Cancer
Q&A by Dr. Maher
Articles by Dr. Maher
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