Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Craig Horbinski Lab

Our Mission

The main focus of our laboratory is developing a better understanding of how key mutations in gliomas alter their biological characteristics, and how best to exploit specific weaknesses that such mutations often impart. In particular, our laboratory focuses on mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (mutIDH1), which is present in the vast majority of WHO grade II and III gliomas. This mutation exerts profound effects on the epigenome and metabolome, yet produces tumors that are markedly less aggressive. Our work indicates that mutIDH1 also dramatically alters the glioma’s micro-environmental landscape by preventing the thrombosis-necrosis phenomenon that is characteristic of IDH1 wild-type gliomas. We are currently exploring the mechanisms by which this occurs, as it will have major implications for understanding why mutIDH1 gliomas are less aggressive, how to make wtIDH1 gliomas behave more like mutIDH1 gliomas, and the potential consequences of anti-mutIDH1 therapy.

Dr. Horbinski is also the Director of the Nervous System Tumor Bank (NSTB) for the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI). The NSTB provides all NBTI researchers with patient-derived biospecimens and neuropathological support. This includes snap-frozen and paraffin-embedded tissues, microscopy imaging and digital analysis, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Additionally, we perform full histologic processing and neuropathologic analysis of animal model tissues.

Currently, the NSTB supports over 50 brain tumor projects by over 20 investigators within and outside Northwestern University.

Together with the excellent outstanding clinicians and researchers in the NBTI, we aim to improve the quality of life and therapy options available for brain tumor patients.

News / Events

The May issue of Neurology features the research of Craig Horbinski, MD/PhD titled ‘Mutant IDH1 and seizures in patients with glioma’, an image from which will be included on the cover. 

Craig Horbinski, MD/PhD is part of a collaborative research team that has found a molecule that stops the growth of an aggressive pediatric brain tumor. Their findings are featured in the Northwestern Medicine News, and Nature Medicine has an advanced online publication of their research.


Craig Horbinski, MD/PhD won an award from the Sontag Foundation at the 2016 SNO Conference for his presentation titled “Mutant IDH1 promotes tumor-associated epilepsy in glioma patients”. Shown in the photo is Carolyn Loch, from the Sontag Foundation presenting the award to Craig Horbinski.

An image from the research of Craig Horbinski, MD / PhD is featured on the cover of Cancer Research, showing the tumor microenvironment in glioblastoma and identifies tumor-infiltrating macrophages as a source of CCL2.

The Society for Neuro-Oncology has chosen Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD for the 2016 Quality of Life Research Abstract Award for "Mutant IDH1 promotes tumor-associated epilepsy in glioma patients”, to be presented at the Society’s 21st Annual Meeting.

The Horbinski Lab has received a generous gift from The Carlos G. Baldoceda Memorial Fund (Carlos' Fund). Carlos' Fund is dedicated to supporting young persons with a passion for music and to raising awareness and money to eradicate brain tumors.

The NSTB Biobank manager, Katy McCortney, will be attending the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories 2016 Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany, from April 5-8. This is the preeminent meeting for biobanks worldwide, and allows us to expand our network while learning the most cutting-edge innovations in supporting biospecimen-based research. Have fun, Katy!

Our very own Dr. Dusten Unruh, postdoctoral fellow, recently published an outstanding paper titled “Antibody-based targeting of alternatively spliced tissue factor: a new approach to impede the primary growth and spread of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma,” in Oncotarget. Congratulations!

Recent and upcoming presentations by members of our laboratory:

  • Horbinski C. Mutant IDH1 suppresses local and systemic thrombosis in glioma patients. 21st International Conference on Brain Tumor Research and Therapy, Okinawa, Japan, April 11, 2016.

  • Horbinski C. What Do I Do with this Low Grade Glioma? American Association of Neuropathologists Companion Meeting at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, March 12, 2016. 

Craig M Horbinski, MD/PhD

Craig M Horbinski, MD/PhD
Associate Professor in Pathology/Neurological Surgery

For more information, click here to visit our department page.