Overview

Welcome to the Division of Neuro-Oncology.

The Division of Neuro-Oncology is dedicated to patient care, research and education. Research in the field is a multidisciplinary intersection of cancer biology, epidemiology, radiobiology, developmental therapeutics, clinical trials and palliative care. Education in neuro-oncology benefits patients and their loved ones, lifelong-learning medical professionals and other members of the health care profession whose contributions to the holistic care of these patients cannot be overestimated, such as those in pharmacy, nursing, social work, psycho-oncology and speech, physical and occupational therapies.  

Clinical Care

Our division is an internationally recognized neuro-oncology program providing humane and expert care in an interdisciplinary disease-based hub in the VCU Massey Cancer Center (MCC).

We integrate cutting-edge translational research data into clinical care while training the next generation of neuro-oncology clinicians and clinician investigators.

By the Numbers

Cancer is common. It remains the second most common cause of mortality in the US, accounting for nearly one out of every four deaths. But despite the need, there are still relatively few physicians, researchers and teachers in the field of neuro-oncology. The following statistics reveal a discrepancy between the extent and severity of the problem and the number of healthcare professionals adequately equipped to provide car, perform research and educate:

  • Approximately 1,762,450 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2019  
  • About 606,880 Americans are projected to die of cancer this year – that's nearly 1,700 people each day  
  • About 24,000 patients will develop primary malignant brain tumors, and up to 200,000 will develop brain metastases from systemic cancer 
  • In Virginia, an estimated 650 patients will be diagnosed with brain cancer this year, of whom about 440 will die  
  • Of the 144,000 Virginians predicted to have survived up to five years with cancer by the end of 2019, many will suffer neurological consequences of their cancer therapies  
  • Of the more than 36,000 members of the American Academy of Neurology, the largest professional association of neurologists in the U.S., fewer than 400 belong to the neuro-oncology section 
  • Only 236 neuro-oncologists are board-certified by the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS)  
  • Attendance at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the largest medical oncology conference in the world, was 42,000 in 2019. Yet attendance at the 2017 World Federation of Neuro-oncology meeting was only 917.  

By the Numbers

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new cancer cases

Approximate number of new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in 2019

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patients in Virginia

Estimated number diagnosed with brain cancer this year

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Americans

Number of Americans projected to die of cancer this year

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neuro-oncologists

Number of neuro-oncologists that are board-certified by the UCNS

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attendees

In 2019, there were 42,000 attendees at the largest medical oncology conference in the world

Research

Research in the division of Neuro-Oncology

Neuro-oncology faculty members are actively engaged in a broad spectrum of research projects. Clinical trials, particularly investigator-initiated studies, are a major priority. We participate in National Cancer Institute cooperative group studies sponsored by NRG Oncology, Alliance Cancer Specialists and ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group.  

We also have a focus on cancer complications research (including chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy) and the neuropsychological impact of brain tumors and their treatment. 

Clinical Trials

Current therapeutic and observational trials in neuro-oncology that are open to enrollment include:

  • MCC-14816: An investigator-initiated study of sorafenib, valproic acid and sildenafil for recurrent malignant glioma  
  • CODEL: A phase III randomized study of radiation therapy plus temozolomide vs. PCV chemotherapy for 1p19q co-deleted gliomas  
  • AZD1390: A phase I study of an ATM kinase inhibitor developed at MCC in combination with radiation therapy for recurrent and newly diagnosed glioblastoma, and brain metastases  
  • DISARM: An observational study of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in patients with breast cancer and lymphoma  
  • Cognitive remediation therapy for brain tumor patients 
  • NRG-BN003: A phase III randomized study of radiation therapy vs. observation for patients with grossly totally resected WHO-grade II meningioma) 
  • NRG-CC003: A phase II/III study of prophylactic cranial irradiation with or without hippocampal avoidance for patients with small cell lung cancer  
  • A survey of death anxiety in patients with primary brain tumors.  

Education

Medical students, neurology residents and hematology-oncology fellows are integrated into the neuro-oncology program.

Every year, approximately 50 VCU M3 students spend one week each in the Dalton Oncology Clinic, a highly desirable elective during their four-week neurology rotation.  

All neurology residents rotate through neuro-oncology clinic. PGY-4 residents who are interested in neuro-oncology are invited to participate in a one-month elective during which they will attend clinic three days per week. Faculty continue their ongoing education by advising and mentoring trainees and participating in academic reinforcement programs sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs at the School of Medicine.  

The division is home to a UCNS-accredited neuro-oncology fellowship program, directed by Dr. Alicia Zukas.  

Read more about the Neuro-oncology fellowship program >>

About the Division Chair

Dr. Malkin is Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

Mark G. Malkin

A native of Canada, Dr. Mark G. Malkin graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1979. Dr. Malkin is Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, William G. Reynolds, Jr. Chair in Neuro-Oncology, Member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at the NCI-designated Massey Cancer Center, and Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at VCU and Massey. Following training in internal medicine and neurology residency at the University of Toronto, Dr. Malkin completed a neuro-oncology fellowship at Memorial and Weill Cornell Medicine, rising to the rank of associate clinical member at Memorial and associate professor of clinical neurology at Cornell. In 2004, he moved to Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He was named Professor and Director of the neuro-oncology program in 2007.  

Malkin’s research interests include clinical trials for brain tumor patients, advanced brain tumor imaging, the epidemiology of primary brain tumors and quality of life studies in brain tumor patients. Dr. Malkin maintains that patients with these illnesses are best served by seeking state-of-the-art interdisciplinary care, as early as possible in their course of treatment, at an academic medical center. In 2004, Dr. Malkin joined the NCI-funded Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) which conducts radiation therapy research and cooperative clinical investigations. RTOG has since combined with other oncological research groups to form NRG Oncology. Within NRG he’s also involved with translational science brain cancer, low-grade glioma, brain tumor and neurosurgical subcommittees, serving as the face of neuro-oncology at VCU and Massey. 

A complete list of Dr. Malkin’s peer-reviewed publications can be found here.  

Faculty & Staff

Department of Neurology, Division of Neuro-Oncology faculty and staff

Mark G. Malkin, M.D.

Mark G. Malkin, M.D.

Chair, Division of Neuro-Oncology; Professor

Mark G. Malkin, M.D.

Mark G. Malkin, M.D.

Chair, Division of Neuro-Oncology; Professor

Department of Neurology

Divisions: Adult Neurology, Neuro-Oncology
William G. Reynolds Jr. Chair, Division of Neuro-oncology
McGlothlin Medical Education Center 12-212

Phone: 804-828-8340

Fax: 804-828-5406

Email: mark.malkin@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Box 980070
Richmond, VA 23298

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Zhi-jian Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Zhi-jian Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Zhi-jian Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Zhi-jian Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology

Divisions: Adult Neurology, Neuro-Oncology

Phone: 804-828-2564

Fax: 804-828-5406

Email: zhi-jian.chen@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Division of Neuro-Oncology
MMEC 12-211
Box 980631
Richmond, VA 23298

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Ashlee Loughan, Ph.D.

Ashlee Loughan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Ashlee Loughan, Ph.D.

Ashlee Loughan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology

Divisions: Adult Neurology, Neuro-Oncology

Email: ashlee.loughan@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Box 980599

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Alicia Zukas, M.D

Alicia Zukas, M.D

Assistant Professor

Alicia Zukas, M.D

Alicia Zukas, M.D

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology

Divisions: Adult Neurology, Neuro-Oncology, Multiple Sclerosis

Email: alicia.m.zukas@vcuhealth.org

Address/Location:
Box 980599

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