At the Max Delbrück Center, Einstein BIH Visiting Fellow David Gutmann wants to understand how immune system-like cells in the brain, called microglia, cause cancer, vision loss, and behavioral problems. Gutmann and his graduate student team in Professor Helmut Kettenmann’s laboratory will perform these studies using both genetically-engineered mice and human skin-derived stem cells that model the Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a common condition in which children and adults develop brain tumors, vision loss, learning and attention deficits, and autism. David Gutmann received his education at the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
For the past 25 years, I have cared for children and adults with Neurofibromatosis, a set of common genetic conditions, in which affected individuals are prone to the development of learning and behavioral deficits, brain and nerve tumors, bone and heart defects, autism, hearing and vision loss, and other cancers. While we have learned much about the NF genes and their function, we currently cannot predict what medical problems will arise in any given person with NF, whether they will progress, and how best to tailor our treatments to that specific individual. As a practicing physician, I am driven to use basic laboratory and translational research to unravel the complexities of these disorders relevant to personalized (precision) medicine approaches. The goal of our research at Washington University and at the Max Delbrück Center is to define the factors that make each person with NF unique, and to leverage these insights to develop better predictive strategies and treatment options, not only for people with NF, but also for those with related disorders.