Frederick Varn, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Integrates genomic and molecular pathology approaches to investigate how the tumor microenvironment drives development and treatment resistance in brain tumors.

The brain is a unique cellular ecosystem, housing the neurons, glia, microglia, and immune cells that together coordinate its vast array of functions. When a tumor forms in the brain, malignant cells co-opt these interactions to fuel their own growth. As a result, the normal cells that surround these tumors, collectively known as the tumor’s microenvironment, can directly influence a tumor’s developmental trajectory and ability to resist treatment.

The Varn Lab is devoted to understanding how interactions between tumor cells and the microenvironment shape the evolution of diffuse gliomas, the most common malignant brain tumors in adults. To accomplish this, the laboratory relies on data-driven techniques that integrate genomic, transcriptomic, and spatial information from human tissue samples. Projects in the Varn Lab rest on the central hypothesis that disrupting the environment in which a tumor develops will slow the tumor’s ability to grow and sensitize it to therapy. By deciphering these cellular interactions, the Varn Lab aims to generate novel discoveries that can be harnessed to improve brain tumor treatments and prolong patient survival.

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Frederick Varn on ORCID

Education and experience


Dartmouth College
Ph.D., Molecular and Systems Biology
Advisor: Dr. Chao Cheng

Dartmouth College
M.S., Quantitative Biomedical Sciences

University of Florida
B.S., Biology


The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
Postdoctoral fellow
Advisor: Dr. Roel Verhaak