Sylvester Physician Elected to Society for Neuro-Oncology Board of Directors
Macarena de la Fuente, M.D., becomes the first Hispanic elected and will represent neurology on the multidisciplinary board.
Macarena de la Fuente, M.D., chief of neuro-oncology in the Department of Neurology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been elected Neurology Board Representative for the Society of Neuro-Oncology (SNO).
The first Hispanic elected to the board, Dr. de la Fuente is among eight new officers and board members elected in what the society is calling a record year for election ballots.
Shared Focus on Brain Tumors
Dr. de la Fuente and SNO share a focus on brain tumors. SNO exists to advance multi-disciplinary brain tumor research, education and collaboration.
“SNO is the only society that’s purely and truly focused on neuro-oncology,” Dr. de La Fuente said.
Dr. de la Fuente has been an SNO member for more than a decade and served in many ways, including as chair of the society’s Membership Committee and on the Women and Diversity Committee.
During her three-year term on the SNO board, Dr. de la Fuente said she’ll be the voice of neurology on a board representing several other specialties and disciplines, including neurosurgery, medical oncology, pediatrics, radiation, pathology, and basic science.
Uniting Basic and Clinical Neuro-oncology
Dr. de la Fuente also aims to use her seat on the SNO board to contribute to what she said is the “long-overdue coordination between basic and clinical neuro-oncology that will ultimately enable revolutionary advances in the treatment and management of brain tumor patients and help fulfill the mission of SNO.”
As leader of Sylvester’s Neuro-Oncology Division, Dr. de la Fuente has created an innovative clinical trial portfolio for primary brain tumors. She recently helped to develop precision therapy for isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) protein mutant glioma with specific compounds that are on track to be approved as therapeutic standards for this disease.
That’s just one example of how collaboration between basic and translational scientists helps to usher advanced research concepts to the clinical setting, important because many basic science advances in neuro-oncology in the last two decades have yet to translate to improved patient survival.
The advances include a better understanding of the molecular profile of these tumors and an updated classification of brain tumors.
“We will work on designing more sophisticated clinical trials that can move science forward and answer the questions that we need answering in order to find better treatments,” Dr. de la Fuente said.
Diversity and Inclusion in SNO
Diversity and inclusion have been important topics to SNO in the last year, according to Dr. de la Fuente.
“These also are important topics for me, as they impact the communities that I represent,” she said. “I want to help Hispanics and women to be better represented in neuro-oncology.”
At Sylvester, Dr. de la Fuente conducts research to address brain tumor disparities in the Hispanic/Latino population. At SNO, while on the Women and Diversity Committee, Dr. de la Fuente led a community outreach working group.
Later, as the committee’s co-chair, she took part in the society’s Diversity Strategic Plan Ad Hoc Search Committee to identify the best partner to guide SNO in designing and implementing a plan to establish a longitudinal pathway for increasing neuro-oncology diversity, enhance SNO leadership diversity and integrating diversity across SNO programs and activities.
Dr. de la Fuente said she is grateful to have the opportunity to help lead neuro-oncology at a relatively early stage in her career.
“Originally from Argentina, I moved to New York 12 years ago, following my dream to become a world-leading brain tumor expert. I am blessed by the privilege that what I do for a living is my passion,” she said.
Newly elected SNO members will assume their roles at the society’s 28th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, Nov. 15-19, 2023. The SNO Annual Meeting is the world’s largest neuro-oncology conference, attracting more than 2,600 researchers and clinician-scientists from more than 40 countries.