The ChadTough Defeat DIPG Scientific Advisory Council is composed of leading experts on childhood brain cancer. The Council reviews grant applications and makes recommendations to ensure that the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation uses its resources to fund the most promising DIPG research projects.

Susan Baker

Suzanne Baker, PhD, Chair

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Dr. Suzanne Baker is the Director of the Division of Brain Tumor Research at St. Jude, the co-leader of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program, and the Associate Director of Basic Research for the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Baker’s research is directed towards understanding the underlying molecular, cellular and genetic mechanisms driving high-grade gliomas, including DIPG in children.


David Ashley, MBBS (Hon), FRACP, PhD

Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. David Ashley is the Director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, a Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Pathology, and a member of the Duke Cancer Institute.

Dr. Ashley’s primary research focus is laboratory based, investigating the role of immunotherapy as a novel approach to the treatment of tumors of the central nervous system, including DIPG.


Oren J. Becher, MD

Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital

Dr. Oren Becher is the Chief of the Jack Martin Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, the Steven Ravitch Chair in Pediatric Hematology, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Dr. Becher developed the first genetically engineered mouse model for DIPG, and his laboratory studies the unique biology of DIPG tumors to identify promising novel agents to translate into clinical trials for children with DIPG.

Cynthia Hawkins

Cynthia Hawkins, MD, PhD

Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Cynthia Hawkins is a neuropathologist and scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, a principal investigator at the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, and a Professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Hawkins maintains a clinical practice devoted specifically to pediatric neuropathology and a laboratory devoted exclusively to pediatric brain tumor research, with a particular focus on DIPG.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones, PhD

Institute for Cancer Research in the UK

Professor Chris Jones heads the Glioma Team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. The team focuses on pediatric high grade and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and are part of a major effort to build up the most detailed picture to date of the genome of these aggressive cancers.

Professor Jones’ work has already revealed some significant genetic differences between the adult and child form of the disease, and has highlighted potential new drug targets.

Duane Mitchell

Duane Mitchell, MD, PhD

University of Florida College of Medicine

Dr. Duane Mitchell is the Phyllis Kottler Friedman Professor in Neurosurgery and the State of Florida Endowed Chair of Cancer Research within the UF College of Medicine. He serves as the Director of Cancer Therapeutics and Immuno-Oncology for the UF Health Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy.

Dr. Mitchell has extensive translational research experience involving immunotherapy treatments for brain cancer and has served on principal investigator on several first-inhuman clinical immunotherapy trials developed from discoveries made in his laboratory.

Michelle Monje Feature Image

Michelle Monje, MD, PhD

Stanford University

Dr. Michelle Monje is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Neurology and, by courtesy, the Departments of Pediatrics, Pathology and Neurosurgery; a member of the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, Stanford Institute of Stem Cell Biology, the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Stanford Neuroscience Institute; and a practicing neurologist and pediatric neuro-oncologist at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

Dr. Monje’s research group studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of postnatal neurodevelopment and pediatric glioma pathogenesis, with an emphasis on microenvironmental contributions to glioma pathogenesis, with a long-standing focus on DIPG.

Javad Nazarian

Javad Nazarian, PhD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, George Washington University
Professor, University Children’s Hospital, Zurich
Head of DMG Research Center, University Children’s Hospital, Zurich

Dr. Nazarian’s research focuses on understanding molecular pathways driving childhood brain cancers and, most importantly, find ways for rapid translation of laboratory findings to the clinic. He leads two research groups; one in Zurich, Switzerland, and one in Washington, DC that focus on developing biorepositories, preclinical disease models, performing molecular analyses, drug assays, and correlative studies for ongoing clinical trials.
Working in close collaboration with Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), Prof Nazarian serves as the preclinical lead for the DMG-ACT working group which encompasses 16 international institutions across North America, Europe, and Australia. The primary goal of the team is to accelerate the discovery of clinically translatable therapies for the treatment of childhood brain cancers.
Verena Staedtke

Verena Staedtke, MD, PhD

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Verena Staedtke is a neurologist specializing in neurofibromatosis and disorders of the peripheral nerves. She received her medical degree from Charité-Universitätsmedizin in Berlin.

Her lab is studying the mechanisms that contribute to immune-mediated toxicity and anti-tumor response following immunotherapy in an effort to overcome some of the existing challenges in brain cancer immunotherapy.

8 Robert Wechsler-Reya

Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD

Columbia University

Dr. Robert Wechsler-Reya is H. Houston Merritt Professor of Neurological Sciences and Scientific Director of Brain Tumor Research in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University. Dr. Wechsler-Reya’s research focuses on the signals that control growth and differentiation in the cerebellum and how these signals are dysregulated in the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma.
Bill Weiss

Bill Weiss, MD, PhD

University of California, San Francisco

Dr. William Weiss is a pediatric neurologist in San Francisco, California and is affiliated with UCSF Health-UCSF Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Dr. Weiss’s research focuses on developing and characterizing mouse models that faithfully recapitulate the biology and genetics of human tumors of the nervous system, and using observations in the mouse to inform the biology, genetics, and therapy of human tumors.

In 2015, two families lost their sons Chad and Michael to DIPG. Together they’ve channeled that heartache into finding a cure for childhood brain cancer.

We value collaboration. We partner with others who share our passion because we believe working together and sharing knowledge is the fastest path to a cure.