Meet the Horbinski Lab team members. We welcome requests for information about our work and collaboration opportunities. Find out how to contact us.
Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD
Medical Director of Neuropathology
Director, Nervous System Tumor Bank
Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD, hails from Buffalo, NY, where he completed his combined MD/PhD training at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He then did an Anatomic Pathology residency and a Neuropathology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. His first academic appointment was at the University of Kentucky, where he founded and directed the Solid Tumor Molecular Diagnostics laboratory and was director of the Markey Cancer Center Biospecimen and Tissue Procurement Shared Resource Facility. In 2015, Horbinski moved to Northwestern University, where he directs the Neuropathology Division, the Nervous System Tumor Bank and the Mouse Histology and Phenotyping Laboratory. To date, Horbinski has authored over 140 peer-reviewed publications and has obtained extramural research support from multiple sources, including the NIH and ABTA. He has delivered over 60 invited talks and platform presentations on gliomas in a variety of national and international settings, has mentored over a dozen clinical and research trainees on scientific projects and has trained over 30 clinical residents and fellows. Horbinski is an Associate Editor of Neuro Oncology and Neuro Oncology Advances and is on the editorial board of the top three neuropathology journals (Acta Neuropathologica, Brain Pathology, Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology) and reviews for over 20 journals, including Neuro-Oncology, Oncotarget, Lancet Oncology, Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research.
Matthew McCord, MD
MD: University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville FL
Matthew McCord, MD, received his BS in biology from Florida Institute of Technology in 2012 and attended medical school at the University of Florida. Before his final year of medical school, he completed the Medical Research Scholars Program at the NIH, where he did brain tumor research under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Gilbert. McCord went on to receive his MD with honors in research in 2018. He completed both his anatomic pathology residency and neuropathology fellowship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. McCord began research on hypermutation and temozolomide resistance in gliomas during his clinical training, under Horbinski’s mentorship. In 2022, he joined the Horbinski Lab full time to continue his research as a postdoctoral fellow.
Thomas Sears, PhD
PhD, Pharmacology and Toxicology: University of California, Davis, CA
Thomas Sears, PhD, received a BSc in Environmental Toxicology at University of California, Davis (UC Davis) where he performed research under the guidance of Dr. Robert Rice, a notable skin toxicologist with an interest in heavy metal-induced skin toxicity. Upon graduating, Sears focused his research interests on cancer pharmacology and entered the Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Group at UC Davis where he joined the lab of neuropathologist Dr. Kevin Woolard. Sears’ dissertation research in the lab of Dr. Woolard focused on the use of glioma stem-like models to evaluate how IDH mutations in glioma affect sensitivity to epigenetic inhibitors. Sears joined the Horbinski Lab in September 2020 and will be building upon his dissertation research using advanced glioma models and bioinformatics studies.
Katy McCortney, MS, QBRS (ASCP)
Lab Manager - Nervous System Tumor Bank
BS, Psychology: Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
Katy McCortney, MS, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University where she conducted novel research before joining the Social Neuroscience Lab at The University of Chicago. She joined the team at Northwestern University in 2015 where her role as senior researcher and lab manager for the Nervous System Tumor Bank (NSTB) includes providing guidance and coordinating the biospecimen requests of scientists, working with the biobank team to collect, process, distribute and store brain and spinal cord tumor specimens, as well as managing the biobank’s administrative needs. McCortney also helped establish the NSTB’s postmortem donation program for patients with glioma. This donation program works with patients and their families who wish to donate their brain with the hope of advancing research in brain cancer. McCortney also earned a Master of Science in Health Communication from Northwestern University in 2019. In her free time she trains for and races in triathlons.
Wenxia Wang, BMed, MMed
Lab Manager - Horbinski Lab
Bachelor of Medicine (BMed/BS): Henan University of Chinese Medicine,China
Wenxia Wang, BMed, MMed, studied Chinese medicine and Western medicine in Henan University of Chinese Medicine and has seven years of clinical experience as a physician in China, specialized in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. Wang has participated in research projects across the U.S. for 20 years related to molecular biology, cell culture and animal models. She has published/coauthored many research papers. She started working at Northwestern University in 2011 and joined the Horbinski Lab in July 2020 as the research lab manager. She manages daily operations of research activities, participates and assists lab members in the research projects.
Shejuan An, PhD
PhD, Occupational Hygiene and Environmental Hygiene: Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
Shejuan An, PhD, earned her PhD at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, where she studied Environmental Toxicology and Carcinogenesis. An focused on translational research in lung cancer for eight years at Guangdong General Hospital, Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute in China. She came to the United States as a visiting scholar at the George Washington University in October of 2013. She started working at Northwestern University in 2018 and joined the Horbinski Lab in March 2021, where she studies FDA approved drugs for repurpose in meningioma.
Mariah Flowers, MS
BS, Biological Sciences: DePaul University
Mariah Flowers earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at DePaul University. During her time at DePaul, she volunteered in the Emergency Department at Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she assisted with transporting patients and provided food or blankets to those in the waiting room. She also held various leadership positions in her sorority and was selected to serve on multiple committees. She then earned her master’s degree in medical physiology at Case Western Reserve University where she worked on clinical research under the cardiothoracic surgery department at the University Hospitals network. In the future, she plans to continue her education and will be applying to medical school.
Alicia Steffens, HTL(ASCP)
BS, Biological Sciences: Illinois State University
Alicia Steffens earned her bachelor degree in biological sciences from Illinois State University before continuing on to complete IUPUI's Histotechnology program in 2015. Her career began in a clinical setting with a strong focus on embedding and microtomy skill. She then moved to a research setting, which includes her role in the Nervous System Tumor Bank where she is the principal histotechnologist. In her role here, her skills include special staining and immunohistochemistry.
BS, Biomedical Sciences: Western Michigan University
Jordain Walshon earned her bachelor degree in biomedical science with minors in chemistry and psychology from Western Michigan University. During her time at Western, Walshon skated on the Synchronized Skating team. In the future she would like to continue education for Pathologists' Assistant or work related to Neuropathology.
Mark Youngblood, MD, PhD
MD/PhD: Yale University
Mark Youngblood, MD, PhD, is originally from Tallahassee, Florida, and competed a BS in Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. After working for three years at Intel designing microprocessors, he joined the MD/PhD program at Yale, focusing on meningioma epigenetics in the laboratory of Murat Gunel. His dissertation investigated changes in chromatin architecture associated with distinct driver mutations in these tumors, as well as the prognostic and clinical significance of these alterations. He is currently a resident in neurosurgery at Northwestern, and interested in improving diagnostic and treatment approaches for meningiomas.
Michael Drumm, PhD
Graduate Student, Medical Scientist Training Program
AB, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology: Harvard University
Michael Drumm, PhD, graduated from Harvard in 2015 with an AB in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, where he did research on neurodevelopmental disorders. Upon graduation, he studied bladder and prostate cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Radiation Oncology for two years. In 2017, Michael enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University, and following the completion of the first two years of medical school, joined the Horbinski Lab in May 2019. Michael earned his PhD in April 2023 and is continuing his medical school education.
Rodrigo Javier is an experienced biobank technician who has been with the Horbinski Lab since 2017. In addition to biobanking, Rodrigo is highly skilled in patient-derived xenograft models of cancer. His current research project focuses on whether the ketogenic diet may be particularly effective against IDH mutant gliomas.
Heather Smith, MD, PhD
MD: University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Heather Smith, MD, PhD, received her BS in neuroscience and business administration at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2006, where she studied neuroprosthetics under the guidance of Lawrence Cauller, PhD. She then went on to a combined MD/PhD program, where she split her time between the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the University of Texas in Austin. She completed her PhD in neuroscience in 2015 under the guidance of Kristen Harris, a leading expert on synaptic ultrastructure, with an interest in the influence of mitochondria on sustained increases in synaptic vesicle release following long-term potentiation as well as changes in synaptic ultrastructure during early post-natal development. She received her MD with honors in 2017 from the University of Texas Medical Branch. After a year of neurosurgery residency, she switched to pathology in order to focus on her passion for studying disease processes using microscopy and completed her residency in anatomic pathology at University of Chicago in 2022. She joined the Horbinski Lab in 2022 and began her neuropathology fellowship at Northwestern in 2023.
BA, Neuroscience: Washington University, St. Louis
Vineeth Thirunavu graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2019 with a BA in Neuroscience. He enrolled in the MD program at Northwestern in 2019 and recently completed his third year. He joined the Horbinski Lab in June 2022 to begin a research year studying the therapeutic potential of histone deacetylase inhibitors in high-risk meningiomas and the utility of Ki-67 as a prognostic tool for meningioma outcomes. He plans on applying to neurosurgery residencies in 2023.
Anh Tran, PhD
PhD, Cancer Biology: University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
Anh N. Tran, PhD, graduated from Vietnam National University, Hanoi in 2011 with a bachelor degree in Biology and a thesis on ex vivo angiogenesis models for cancer drug testing. Upon graduation, he worked at Vietnam Academy of Technology and Science where he studied the production of recombinant human Interleukin-2. He came to the United States to study the effects of the GTP cyclohydrolase I/ Tetrahydrobiopterin pathway on glioblastoma initiating cells, and earned his doctorate degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2018. Anh joined the Horbinski Lab in September of 2018, where he studies glioblastoma and meningioma.
Dusten Unruh, PhD, MT (ASCP)
PhD, Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine: UC, Cincinnati, OH
Dusten Unruh, PhD, MT (ASCP), graduated from North Dakota State University in 2009 with a BS in Clinical Laboratory Science and minor in Chemistry. He became an American Society for Clinical Pathology certified Medical Technologist, which led to his matriculation into graduate school. He earned his PhD at University of Cincinnati, where he studied vascular biology and the effects of cancer-produced Tissue Factor. Unruh joined the Horbinski Lab in November 2015, and now he studies how tissue factor expression and mutant IDH1 affect glioma biology and hemostasis.