Canine Brain Tumor Clinical Trials Program



G. Elizabeth Pluhar, DVM, PhD


veterinary surgeons in surgery

Eligible cases

Dogs with glioma or meningioma, as seen on MRI

Contact Info: Dr. Pluhar at 612-625-1162,

The goal of the Canine Brain Tumor Clinical Trial Program is to offer cutting edge therapy to dogs intended to preserve quality of life and improve long-term survival rates. Additionally, we will use the information gained from treating dogs to design similar treatments for people with brain tumors. The majority of the costs associated with these experimental brain tumor therapies are paid for by grants from foundation and government agencies including the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the American Brain Tumor Association and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.

We have treated over 200 dogs, and are still collecting data to be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the therapies. However, we have found that dogs with low-grade glioma respond well to the combination of surgery and immunotherapy, and we are prolonging the disease free interval for dogs with high-grade glioma while providing an excellent quality of life.

Overview of studies

Glioma trials

There are several different treatments being compared, including: surgery followed by vaccine-based immunotherapy, surgery followed by oncolytic virus therapy, surgery followed by IL-12 gene therapy and biopsy followed by placement of a specialized catheter system that draws tumor cells out of the brain. Any visit performed here at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center will have the costs covered by the study.

Dogs with meningioma

We are no longer recruiting dogs for a clinical trial, but we are offering to treat dogs diagnosed with meningioma with surgery and vaccine-based immunotherapy. NONE of the associated costs are covered, so the owners are responsible for all invoices. The vaccines had a 93% efficacy rate in the clinical trials we performed, and are an alternative to radiation therapy with or without surgery. Contact Dr. Pluhar (above) for information.

How to participate

We have people coming from near and far to participate in these studies. For all interested, see the steps below.

1. Your veterinarian can use the link to the right to request enrollment of a dog in a trial: "Apply for Brain Tumor Clinical Trials Program", or you may contact Dr. Pluhar directly (see above).

2. In order to determine if the tumor is operable and your dog is eligible for the study, Dr. Pluhar must be able to review the  MRI.

  • If you live near the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), your dog can have the MRI here. Please call 612-626-8387 to request an appointment with the Neurology Service to schedule this or your veterinarian can request the MRI using the AVID Service.
  • From other locations, please obtain an MRI at a Neurology clinic in your area. Once complete, we would like a copy of the images and report sent here, or if the Neurology clinic can do a 'DICOM' transfer, we will accept that (if the clinic can do this, they will know what that means). Please have them contact the CIC for instructions.
    To send by mail or FedEx, please use this address:
    Dr. Liz Pluhar

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    1352 Boyd Ave.
339 VMC

    St. Paul, MN 55108

3. Once Dr. Pluhar reviews the images, she will be in touch with the owner or veterinarian with the next steps.


We are always happy to accept charitable donations to help further our research efforts. Donate to the research effort, click here, then search for “Batman Memorial Brain Tumor Fund", and select "Give Now!". Or you can contact Bill Venne, chief development officer, at 612-625-8480 or