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Amy B. Heimberger, M.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Amy Heimberger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and has been a member of the department since 2002. She has an extensive research program focused on immune therapeutic strategies for gliomapatients and studies  tumor-mediated mechanisms of immune suppression. Her laboratory, the Brain Tumor Immunology Lab, was pivotal in the development of a peptide (PEP-3-KLH/CDX-110) vaccine strategy that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor. The strategy doubled the median survival of glioblastoma multiforme patients and is proceeding to final registration clinical trials (licensed to Celldex Therapeutics). In addition, Dr. Heimberger has clarified that the signal transducer and activator of the transcription3 (STAT3) pathway is a key molecular hub of gliomagenesis and tumor-mediated immune suppression. She also conducted the pre-clinical development of a novel small molecule inhibitor of STAT3, WP1066, which will be introduced into clinical trials in the next 18 months for melanoma patients with CNS metastasis and primary glioma patients. Furthermore, she showed that tumor-associated microglia/macrophages potentiate gliomagenesis via STAT3 and established that the glioma-associated cancer stem cells via the STAT3 pathway exert immune suppressive properties on both the adaptive and innate arms of the immune system. Dr. Heimberger is the only faculty member at MD Anderson that has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She holds multiple NIH and foundation grants and is a project leader in both the Brain and Melanoma SPOREs. Dr. Heimberger has a clinical interest in awake mapping and resection of gliomas within eloquent cortex. She has been named by the US News and World Report as a Top Doc.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Neurosurgery
1400 Holcombe Blvd., FC7.2000
Unit Number: 442
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-792-2400
Fax: 713-794-4950

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1995 Washington University, St. Louis, MO, MD, Medicine
1989 University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, BA, Biology

Postgraduate Training

10/1997-5/1999 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuro-Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, Dr. Darell Bigner
6/1996-6/2002 Resident, Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, Dr. Allan Friedman
6/1995-6/1996 Intern, Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, Dr. Robert Anderson

Board Certifications

2005 American Board of Neurological Surgery

Experience/Service

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 9/2007-8/2012
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Division of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 9/2007-6/2012
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 8/2005-7/2007

Honors and Awards

2008-2011 Faculty Scholar Award, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer
2008 Mahaley Clinical Research Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Office of the U.S. President, White House
2006 AANS Young Clinical Investigator Award, American Association of Neurological Surgeons
2006 Bristol-Myers Squibb Clinical Translation Award for Research
2000 AACR/AFLAC Young Investigator Award
2000 Louise Eisenhardt Resident Travel Scholarship
2000 Preuss Foundation Resident Research Award
1999 Southern Neurosurgical Society Resident Award for Clinical/Translational Research
1999 Weck Closure System’s Surgical Resident Award for Clinical/Translational Research
1995 Richard S. Brookings Medical School Award for Outstanding Research
1994 John Alfred Veazey Scholarship
1993 Louis and Marie Waltke Memorial Scholarship

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research
Member, 2000-present
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Member, 1997-present
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Member, 2005-present
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Member, 1997-present
Houston Neurological Society
Member, 2003-present
National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Central Nervous System Cancers Panel
Member, 2004-2010
Society for Neuro-Oncology
Member, 1999-present
Southwest Oncology Research Group
Member, 2002-present
Texas Medical Association
Member, 2004-present
Women in Neurosurgery
Member, 2002-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Wei J, Barr J, Kong L-Y, Wang Y, Wu A, Sharma AK, Gumin J, Henry V, Colman H, Priebe W, Sawaya R, Lang FF, Heimberger AB. Glioblastoma cancer-initiating cells inhibit T cell proliferation and effector responses by the STAT3 pathway. Mol Cancer Ther 9(1):67-78, Jan, 2010. PMCID: PMC2939737.
2. Wei J, Barr J, Kong L-Y, Wang Y, Wu A, Sharma AK, Gumin J, Henry H, Colman H, Sawaya R, Lang FF, Heimberger AB. Glioma associated cancer-initiating cells induce immunosuppression. *Figure 1C featured on front cover of Jan 15, 16(2), 2010 issue. Clin Cancer Res 16(2):461-73, Jan 15, 2010. PMCID: PMC2943842.
3. Wiemels JL, Wilson D, Patel C, Patoka J, McCoy L, Rice T, Schwartzbaum J, Heimberger A, Chang S, Prados M, Wiencke JK, Wrensch M. IgE, allergy, and risk of glioma: Update from the San Francisco Bay Area adult glioma. Int J Cancer. e-Pub 2/2009. PMID: 19408307.
4. Kong L-Y, Wei J , Sharma AK, Barr J, Abou-Ghazal MK, Fokt I, Weinberg J, Rao G, Grimm E, Priebe W, Heimberger AB. A novel phosphorylated STAT3 inhibitor enhances T cell cytotoxicity against melanoma through inhibition of regulatory T cells. Cancer Immunol Immunother 58(7):1023-1032, Jul, 2009. e-Pub 11/2008. PMCID: PMC2674523.
5. Sampson JH, Archer GE , Mitchell DA, Heimberger AB, Herndon II JE, Lally-Goss D, McGehee-Norman S, Paolino A, Reardon DA, Friedman AH, Friedman HS, Bigner DD. An epidermal growth factor receptor variant III-targeted vaccine is safe and immunogenic in patients with malignant glioma. Mol Cancer Ther 8(10):2773-2779, Oct, 2009. PMID: 19825799.
6. Kim SS, McCutcheon IE, Suki D, Weinberg JS, Sawaya R, Lang FF, Ferson D, Heimberger AB, DeMonte F, Prabhu SS. Awake craniotomy for brain tumors near eloquent cortex: Correlation of intraoperative cortical mapping with neurological outcomes in 309 consecutive patients. Neurosurgery 64(5):836-845, 2009. PMID: 19404147.
7. Humphries W, Wang Y, Qiao W, Reina-Ortiz, C, Abou-Ghazal MK, Crutcher LM, Wei J, Kong L-Y, Sawaya R, Rao G, Weinberg J, Prabhu SS, Fuller GN, Heimberger AB. Detecting the percent of peripheral blood mononuclear cells displaying p-STAT-3 in malignant glioma patients. J Transl Med 7(1):92, Nov 9, 2009. PMCID: PMC2777138.
8. Choi BD, Archer GE, Mitchell DA, Heimberger AB, McLendon RE, Bigner DD, Sampson JH. EGFRvIII-targeted vaccination therapy of malignant glioma. Brain Pathol 19(4):713-723, 2009. PMCID: PMC2846812.
9. Murat A, Migliavacca E, Hussain SF, Heimberger AB, Desbaillets I, Hamou MF, Ruegg C, Stupp R, Delorenzi M, Hegi ME. Modulation of angiogenic and inflammatory response in glioblastoma by hypoxia. PLoS ONE 4(6):e5947, 2009. PMCID: PMC2694268.
10. Wei J, DeAngulo G, Sun W, Hussain SF, Vasquez H, Jordan J, Weinberg J, Wolff J, Koshikina N, Heimberger AB. Topotecan enhances immune clearance of gliomas. Cancer Immunol Immunother 58(2):259-270, 2009. PMID: 18594817.
11. Schmittling R, Archer GE, Mitchell DA, Heimberger A, Pegram C, Herndon JE, Friedman HS, Bigner DD, Sampson JH. Detection of humoral response in patients with glioblastoma receiving EGFRvIII-KLH vaccines. J Immunol Methods 339(1). e-Pub 9/2008. PMID: 18775433.
12. Sampson JH, Archer GE, Mitchell DA, Heimberger AB, Bigner DD. Tumor-specific immunotherapy targeting the EGFRvIII mutation in patients with malignant glioma. Semin Immunol 20(5). e-Pub 6/2008. PMCID: PMC2633865.
13. Kong L-Y, Abou-Ghazal MK, Wei J, Chakraborty A, Sun W, Qiao W, Fuller GN, Fokt I, Grimm EA, Schmittling RJ, Archer Jr GE, Sampson JH, Priebe W, Heimberger AB. A novel inhibitor of STAT3 activation is efficacious against established central nervous system melanoma and inhibits regulatory T cells. Clin Cancer Res 14(18):5759-5768, 2008. PMCID: PMC2583362.
14. Heimberger AB, Sun W, Hussain SF, Dey M, Crutcher L, Aldape K, Gilbert M, Hassenbusch SJ, Sawaya R, Schmittling B, Archer GE, Mitchell DA, Bigner DD, Sampson JH. Immunological responses in a patient with glioblastoma multiforme treated with sequential courses of temozolomide and immunotherapy: Case study. Neuro-Oncology 10(1):98-103, 2008. PMCID: PMC2600844.
15. Heimberger AB, Reina-Ortiz C, Yang DS, Sun W, Abou-Ghazal M, Qiao W, Hiraoka N, Fuller GN. Incidence and prognostic impact of FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in human gliomas. Clin Cancer Res 14(16):5166-5172, 2008. PMID: 18698034.
16. Jordan JT, Sun W, Hussain SF, DeAngulo G, Prabhu SS, Heimberger AB. Preferential migration of regulatory T cells mediated by glioma-secreted chemokines can be blocked with chemotherapy. Cancer Immunol Immunother 57(1):123-131, 2008. PMID: 17522861.
17. Abou-Ghazal M, Yang DS, Qiao W, Reina-Ortiz C, Wei J, Kong L-K, Fuller GN, Hiraoka N, Priebe W, Sawaya R, Heimberger AB. The incidence, correlation with tumor infiltrating inflammation, and prognosis of p-STAT3 expression in human gliomas. Clin Cancer Res 14(24):8228-8235, 2008. PMCID: PMC2605668.
18. Paz N, Levanon EY, Amariglio N, Heimberger AB, Ram Z, Constantini S, Barbash ZS, Adamsky K, Safran M, Hirschberg A, Krupsky M, Ben-Dov I, Cazacu S, Mikkelsen T, Brodie C, Eisenberg E, Rechavi G. Altered adenosine to inosine RNA editing in human cancer. Genome Res 17(11). e-Pub 10/2007. PMCID: PMC2045141.
19. Hussain SF, Kong L-Y, Jordan J, Conrad C, Madden T, Fokt I, Priebe W, Heimberger AB. A novel small molecule inhibitor of STAT3 reverses immune tolerance in malignant glioma patients. Cancer Res 67(20):9630-9636, 2007. PMID: 17942891.
20. Barnett JA, Urbauer DL, Murray GI, Fuller GN, Heimberger AB. Cytochrome P450 1B1 expression in glial cell tumors: An immunotherapeutic target. Clin Can Res 13(12):3559-3567, 2007. PMID: 17575219.
21. Pelloski CE, Ballman KV, Furth AF, Zhang L, Lin E, Baht K, McDonald JM, Yung WKA, Colman H, Woo SY, Heimberger AB, Suki D, Prado M, Chang S, Barker II FG, Buckner JC, James CD, Aldape KD. Epidermal growth factor receptor variant III status defines clinically distinct subtypes of glioblastoma. J Clin Oncol 25(16):2288-2294, 2007. PMID: 17538175.
22. Hussain SF, Yang D, Suki D, Grimm E, Heimberger AB. Innate immune functions of microglia isolated from human glioma patients. J Transl Med 4(1):15, 2006. PMCID: PMC1501057.
23. Pelloski CE, Lin E, Zhang L, Yung WK, Colman H, Liu JL, Woo SY, Heimberger AB, Suki D, Prados M, Chang S, Barker FG, 3rd, Fuller GN, Aldape KD. Prognostic associations of activated mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt pathways in glioblastoma. Clin Cancer Res 12(13):3935-3941, 2006. PMID: 16818690.
24. Hussain SF, Yang D, Suki D, Aldape K, Grimm E, Heimberger AB. The role of human glioma-infiltrating microglia/macrophages in mediating antitumor immune responses. Neuro-Oncology 8(1):261-279, 2006. PMCID: PMC1871955.

Invited Articles

1. Kanaly CW, Ding D, Heimberger AB, Sampson JH. Clinical applications of a peptide-based vaccine for glioblastoma. Neurosurg Clin N Am 21(1):95-109, Jan, 2010. PMID: 19944970.
2. Humphries W, Wei J, Sampson JH, Heimberger AB. The role of Tregs in glioma-mediated immunosuppression: Potential target for intervention. Neurosurg Clin N Am 21(1):125-137, Jan, 2010. PMCID: PMC2786818.
3. Heimberger AB, Sampson JH. The PEPvIII-KLH (CDX-110) vaccine in glioblastoma multiforme patients. Expert Opin Biol Ther 9(8):1087-1098, 2009.
4. Heimberger AB and Priebe W. Small molecular inhibitors of p-STAT-3: Novel agents for treatment of primary and metastatic CNS cancers. Recent Patents CNS Drug Discov 3(3):179-188, 11/2008.
5. DeAngulo GR, Sun W, Heimberger AB. Synergistic effect of immunotherapy and chemotherapy in cancers: perspective in high grade glioma treatment. Lett Drug Des Discov 3(8):513-523, 2006.
6. Dey M, Hussain SF, Heimberger AB. The glioma microenvironment role in immune modulation: Potential targets for intervention. Lett Drug Des Discov 3(7):443-451, 2006.

Last updated: 1/30/2014