Maria Castro

Maria Castro, Ph.D.

R C Schneider Collegiate Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology


Maria G. Castro, PhD is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan, School of Medicine. Dr. Castro has received several awards, including the 2008 the “Women of Action Award” from the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), the 2016 Javits Research Excellence Award from the NIH, the 2018 University of Michigan Dean’s Basic Science Research Award, and the 2019 Rogel Cancer Center Scholars Award. She was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences (AAAS) in 2019 and in 2020 she was elected as member of the Latin American Academy of Sciences (ACAL). Her research program aims to develop immunotherapies for primary and metastatic brain cancer, studying basic immune-biology mechanisms leading to clinical implementation. She is investigating the role of the tumor immune microenvironment in tumor progression and response to therapeutics; crosstalk between cancer cells and hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and the mechanisms affecting the migration of immune cells from peripheral lymphoid organs to the tumor microenvironment.


Research Interests

Pediatric and adult brain cancer biology and therapeutics. Epigenetics, cancer metabolism, and signaling networks that mediate tumor progression. Uncovering the role of secreted cancer ligands in hematopoietic stem cell development and anti-tumor immunity. Nanotechnology to develop novel anti-cancer therapies. DNA damage, DNA damage response, and development of novel combination therapies for both adult and pediatric brain tumors, including novel immunotherapeutic approaches.

Research Opportunities for Rotating Students

Immune-suppressive Myeloid Cells in the Glioma Microenvironment: Signaling Mechanisms and Novel Therapeutic Strategies
Interactions between the tumor cells and the neuro-immune microenvironment in mutant IDH1 gliomas
Immune-mediated therapies in a genetically engineered murine model of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

Diversity Ambassador

Hispanic or Latino


Haase S, Garcia-Fabiani MB, Carney S, Altshuler D, Nunez FJ, Mendez FM, Nunez F, Lowenstein PR, Castro MG. Mutant ATRX: uncovering a new therapeutic target for glioma.
Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, 2018 Jul;22(7):599-613. PMCID: PMC6044414. Nunez F, Mendez FM, Kadiyala P, Alghamri MS, Savelieff MG, Garcia-Fabiani MB, Haase S, Koschmann C, Calinescu AA, Kamran N, Patel R, Carney S, Guo MZ, Edwards M, Ljungman M, Qin T, Sartor MA, Tagett R, Venneti S, Brosnan-Cashman J, Meeker A, Gorbunova V, Zhao L, Kremer DM, Zhang L, Lyssiotis CA, Jones L, Herting CJ, Ross JL, Hambardzumyan D, Hervey-Jumper S, Figueroa ME, Lowenstein PR*, Castro MG*.
IDH1R132H acts as a tumor suppressor in glioma via epigenetic upregulation of the DNA damage response. Science Translational Medicine 2019 Feb 13;11(479). PMCID: PMC6400220. (*Corresponding authors) Accessible online: Kadiyala P, Li D, Nunez FM, Altshuler D, Doherty R, Kuai R, Yu M, Kamran N, Edwards M, Moon JJ, Lowenstein PR, Castro MG*, Schwendeman A*.
High density lipoprotein-mimicking nanodiscs for chemo-immunotherapy against glioblastoma multiforme. American Chemical Society Nano 2019 Feb 26;13(2):1365-1384. PMCID: PMC6484828. *Co-corresponding, co-lead authors.

Published Articles via PubMed:

Other Info

Office Location 

  • MSRB 2 Room 4570

Lab Location 

  • MSRB 2 Room 4570

 Administrative Assistant