Headshot of Mioara Larion

Mioara Larion, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Neuro-Oncology Branch


Dr. Larion is a trained biochemist who leads the Cancer Metabolism Research Program at the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB). She is interested in the metabolic needs of cancer cells and how they process nutrients, in order to develop targeted approaches that delay tumor growth. She utilizes a set of technologies, including Raman imaging microscopy and metabolomics, to quantify patterns in proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids levels at subcellular resolution. This is a very important endeavor for glioma tumors, which are known to exhibit high heterogeneity.

Dr. Larion’s lab is specifically focused on identifying metabolic vulnerabilities in IDH1-mutated gliomas for clinical application, as well as developing technologies that enable these discoveries. Her lab has shown that lipid pathways are important for IDH1-mutant glioma growth, and that targeting specific enzymes from either fatty acid synthesis or sphingolipid pathway leads to specific cellular death in these cells. She is also interested in developing biomarkers to help image disease progression and monitor patients’ response to treatment.

Explore the NOB's Research Programs >

Areas of Expertise

IDH1-Mutated Gliomas
Raman Spectroscopy
Metabolomics and Lipidomics


Diagram of various types of Raman spectroscopy

As head of the the Cancer Metabolism Research Program at the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB), Dr. Larion observes the direct impact that cancer metabolism has on patient diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Because IDH mutations cause metabolic reprogramming, Dr. Larion’s research focuses on exploiting this phenomenon for therapeutic development and imaging studies that aid early diagnosis. Dr. Larion’s laboratory has shown that lipid pathways are important for IDH1-mutant glioma growth, and that targeting specific enzymes from either fatty acid synthesis or the sphingolipid pathway leads to specific cellular death in these cells (see figure).

Intracellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids can be quantified at the level of cells and individual organelles using Raman spectroscopy, which Dr. Larion leveraged for this project. Capturing changes in these molecules exposes the intrinsic vulnerabilities of IDH-mutant glioma cells. Studying this disease from various angles leads to better diagnostic, surgical, and therapeutic benefits for patients. Dr. Larion's research could also help create a “metabolomic map," outlining each patient's nutrient availability, mutational profile, and metabolic dependency.


Selected Publications

Advances in measuring cancer cell metabolism with subcellular resolution

Ruiz-Rodado V, Lita A, Larion M
Nature Methods. 19(9): 1048-1063, 2022. [ Journal Article ]

IDH1 mutations induce organelle defects via dysregulated phospholipids.

Lita A, Pliss A, Kuzmin A, Yamasaki T, Zhang L, Dowdy T, Burks C, de Val N, Celiku O, Ruiz-Rodado V, Nicoli ER, Kruhlak M, Andresson T, Das S, Yang C, Schmitt R, Herold-Mende C, Gilbert MR, Prasad PN, Larion M
Nature Communications. 12(1): 614, 2021. [ Journal Article ]

Sphingolipid Pathway as a Source of Vulnerability in IDH1mut Glioma.

Dowdy T, Zhang L, Celiku O, Movva S, Lita A, Ruiz-Rodado V, Gilbert MR, Larion M
Cancers. 12(10): 2910, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

Metabolic Reprogramming Associated with Aggressiveness Occurs in the G-CIMP-High Molecular Subtypes of IDH1mut Lower Grade Gliomas

Ruiz-Rodado V, Malta TM, Seki T, Lita A, Dowdy T, Celiku O, Cavazos-Saldana A, Li A, Liu Y, Han S, Zhang W, Song H, Davis D, Lee S, Trepel JB, Sabedot TS, Munasinghe J, Yang C, Herold-Mende C, Gilbert MR, Krishna Cherukuri M, Noushmehr H, Larion M
Neuro-Oncology. 22(4): 480-492, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

Toward Single-Organelle Lipidomics in Live Cells.

Lita, A, Kuzmin, AN, Pliss, A, Baev, A, Rzhevskii, A, Gilbert, MR, Larion, M
Analytical Chemistry. 91(17): 11380-87, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

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A microscopy image showing how an AI tool could identify tumor tissue (blue) vs. non-tumor tissue (black).

Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence to Tease Apart Subtypes of Glioma

June 26, 2024

A new machine learning model sifts through data derived from brain tumor tissue to reveal a wealth of information and help identify the tumor subtype. Read More >

Close-up of Dr. Larion peering into a microscope

Understanding How Cell Metabolism Fuels Brain Tumors 

August 1, 2023

Dr. Mioara Larion aims to develop better, less toxic treatments for people with brain and spine tumors by understanding the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions broadly known as metabolism. Watch video >

A triptych of brain tissue under optical microscope and a Raman imaging microscope

Building a Toolkit to Examine How Cancer Cells Redirect Their Energy

November 28, 2022

A technique called Raman spectroscopy has revolutionized the way Dr. Mioara Larion’s lab understands tumor cell metabolism—and may ultimately help researchers design more effective cancer drugs. Read more >

March 25, 2021

How can we be innovative in our approach to research in order to improve outcomes for central nervous system tumors? That is the driving question behind Dr. Larion's Cancer Metabolism Research Program. Read more >

Dr. Miora Larion and Dr. Victor Ruiz-Rodado

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

January 31, 2020

We celebrate our impactful mentors in the Neuro-Oncology Branch for National Mentoring Month. Our postdoctoral fellows share their love for science and how their mentors have made their experience at NIH more rewarding. Read more >