Professor Richard Gilbertson MRCP, PhD, FMedSci - Chair
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In order to ensure that we fund only the highest quality research, we have formed two Scientific Advisory Boards (SABs) which are made up of internationally renowned scientific and medical experts that work in different areas of cancer research and social science.
The two boards, Biomedical SAB and Quality of Life SAB, are responsible for the assessment and rating of applications for research funding and making recommendations to our board of Trustees. Find out a little about them below.
The Biomedical SAB assess applications from grant rounds that focus on scientific, clinical or translational research. The funding applications they assess primarily work towards achieving our goal of Doubling Survival.
Professor Richard Gilbertson has been working in paediatric oncology as both a clinician and a researcher for almost 25 years, earning his MBBS and PhD degrees from Newcastle University in 1992 and 1998. In 2000, he moved to St Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA where he served as the Co-Leader of the Neurobiology and Brain Tumour Program and founding Director of the Molecular Clinical Trials Core, before being appointed as the Comprehensive Cancer Centre Director, Executive Vice President, and Lillian R. Cannon Endowed Chair in 2011. In 2014, he was appointed as the Scientific Director of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Professor Gilbertson now sits as the Li Ka-shing Chair of Oncology, Head of Dept. of Oncology and Director of the Cambridge Cancer Centre at Cambridge University.
His research has helped to identify that there are different sub-types of medulloblastoma and ependymoma – two of the most common kind of childhood brain tumour. This has been translated into numerous diagnostic tests and innovative clinical trials for children with cancer.
Dr Mark Gilbert is a senior investigator and chief of the Neuro-Oncology Branch at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has recently been named Deputy Director of the Centre for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute. He is also the founder and former leader of the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN), a consortium studying ependymoma tumours by supporting basic research, clinical trials, patient outcomes research and educational efforts in North America and Europe. Additionally, he was recently named the Co-Chair of the Brain Tumour Committee in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).
Dr Gilbert's research interests centre on developing new treatment strategies for patients with malignant primary brain tumours. His focus has been in the area of clinical research, emphasizing both large, multi-institutional studies for malignant gliomas, as well as smaller clinical trials that are designed to advance therapies for less common cancer.
Dr David Adams is a biologist whose expertise lies in experimental models of human cancer. Dr Adams received his PhD in Physiology and Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia and then moved to the Sanger Institute in 2001. He is now the Senior Group Leader of Experimental Cancer Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
Dr Adams manages a team of nearly 20 scientists with expertise in diverse areas of science. His research group aims to understand the biological function of genes that influence cancer development, particularly skin cancer and colorectal cancer. The group work together to answer questions in cancer genetics, cancer evolution and cancer immunology.
Dr Kenneth Aldape is a neuropathologist with a research interest in primary brain tumours. Until recently he a Senior Scientist at the University of Toronto to develop a brain tumour program and conduct clinical-translational research in neuro-oncology.
He now works at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research as chief of the Laboratory of Pathology
He has experience with identification of biomarkers in gliomas, including microarray studies. His work characterises glioma subtypes as well as identifying clinically relevant molecular alterations in these tumors. He has identified a mesenchymal subgroup of glioma, which may be related to microenvironmental factors.
Professor Robert Brown has a joint appointment between Imperial College London and Institute of Cancer Research where he is Professor of Translational Oncology in the Section of Medicine. He also heads the Epigenetics Unit and is Head of Division of Cancer. Professor Brown is the lead investigator of the Cancer Research UK research programme on Drug Resistance and Epigenetics as well as being a named investigator in the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre and co-Principal Investigator CRUK/NIHR Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.
Professor Brown's work focuses on epigenetics and drug resistance research, with a particular focus on ovarian cancer. He and his team have shown that aberrant DNA methylation and epigenetic silencing of genes in tumours can predict response to chemotherapy and patient survival.
Dr Susan Chang is the Director of Neuro-Oncology at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), specialising in the treatment of adult brain tumours. She is the principal investigator and co-investigator on more than 15 active clinical trials evaluating the use of a number of treatment interventions including chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and convection enhanced delivery of new drugs.
In addition to research into developing novel and effective therapeutic drugs, her research has expanded to include the evaluation of new imaging techniques that may influence treatment selection for patients. She was recently the co-recipient of a Specialised Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute, for evaluating the role of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in diagnosing tumours and evaluating therapeutic interventions.
Dr Paul Northcott is a leading paediatric cancer genome scientist, currently holding a post as Principal Investigator in the Department of Developmental Neurobiology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The Northcott lab is interested in solving the molecular and cellular origins of the childhood brain tumour medulloblastoma. Coupling cutting-edge next-generation sequencing and integrative computational approaches with in vivo functional studies, they aim to comprehensively understand the genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptional landscapes underlying medulloblastoma heterogeneity and developmental biology.
Professor Nicola Sibson holds the post of Professor of Imaging Neuroscience, CRUK Senior Group Leader and Director of Graduate Studies at the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology. Following her PhD, Dr Sibson spent 4 years at Yale University before joining the MRC Biochemical and Clinical Magnetic Resonance Unit in Oxford. She then moved to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics as a University Research Lecturer and joined the Oxford Institute in 2007.
Dr Sibson has now spent over two decades working on the application of MRI and other imaging modalities in the investigation of brain disease. Her research group has studied many different models of human disease, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral malaria, Alzheimer's disease and prion disease. Dr Sibson's research now focuses on secondary brain tumours (metastases).
Professor Martin van den Bent serves as Head of the Neuro-Oncology Unit of the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Centre at Erasmus University Hospital, The Netherlands. He is a neurologist, specialising in neurological complications of cancer and in primary brain tumours. In the past, he has served as the Chair of the European Organisation of Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Brain Tumour Group as well as contributing to the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust's Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for several years.
Professor van den Bent is the Principle Investigator of numerous phase two and three multi-centre clinical trials on primary brain tumours. His other research interests include prognostic markers in neuro-oncology and genetic changes that occur in brain tumours.
Dr Ian Waddell has more than 25 years experience in the pharmaceutical and research industry. Having managed and motivated large discovery based groups in both cardiovascular and oncology disease areas, he has a broad experience in all stages of modern drug discovery.
Dr Waddell is Executive Director of Biology at Charles River Laboratories and is currently leading a highly motivated team of Drug Discovery scientists at Charles River Laboratories based in Cambridge, Canterbury, Harlow and Lieden. The team cover areas from target identification and validation through to assay development and high throughput screening. Additionally the teams deals with Lead identification and on into Lead optimisation and candidate selection, as well as pre-clinical validation work in drug discovery.
In addition to being a member of Biomedical SAB, Dr Waddell is an occasional consultant for a number of biotech companies as well as sitting on the scientific advisor panel for HitGenLtd, and Alzheimer's Research UK drug discovery review panel.
Professor Colin Watts leads the newly established Brain Cancer Program at the University of Birmingham. Professor Watts qualified from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and trained in neurosurgery in Cambridge and London where he completed his specialist training in 2004. As a practising neurosurgeon Professor Watts has established a dedicated neurosurgical-oncology research clinic to support clinical trials and collaborative translational research.
Professor Steve Clifford is appointed a Professor of Molecular Paediatric Oncology at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR), Newcastle University. He is currently the lead for the Paediatric Brain Tumour Research Group.
Professor Clifford has held academic positions at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Birmingham. He completed his doctoral training in Cancer Molecular Biology at Newcastle University. Prior to this he received a Bachelor in Science (Honours) in Applied Biology at the University of Wales, Cardiff.
The QoL SAB use their wealth of experience to assess applications focusing on enhancing the lives of people with brain tumours and their loved ones. Projects approved by this board will further our strategic goal of Halving the Harm.
Dr Antony Michalski has been a paediatric consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) since 1993 where he leads a multi-disciplinary team committed to delivering the best outcomes and patient centred care.
Until very recently Dr Michalski chaired the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Children's Cancer and Leukaemia central nervous system subgroup, promoting research into childhood brain tumours through development of clinical trials. Dr Michalski has also published 34 papers in peer reviewed journals and has written book chapters and reviews. He holds national grants for research into childhood brain tumours.
Professor Martin Taphoorn is a professor of neuro-oncology, with a particular interest in quality of life. Since 2007 he has been appointed Professor of Neuro-Oncology at the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, where he contributes to clinical research in Neuro-Oncology (including patient-reported outcome measures, cognition, epilepsy and end of life care).
He is actively involved in both the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Brain Tumour Group and EORTC Quality of Life Group, in both Groups he has been member of the executive committee. At present he is board member of the European Association of Neuro-Oncology and of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO).
Dr Terri Armstrong has just taken up a post at the National Institute of Health in the USA. She will be continuing the work she did as a professor in the Department of Family Health at the University of Texas Health School of Nursing where she held the school's prestigious Dunn Distinguished Professorship in Oncology Nursing. She also was concurrently an Advanced Practice Nurse in the Department of Neuro-Oncology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr Armstrong has worked in the field of neuro-oncology since 1992, with research focuses on symptom assessment and management and myelotoxicity.
Dr Armstrong has recently been elected the new vice president of the Society of Neuro-Oncology, an international multidisciplinary organisation for those involved in research and care of neuro-oncology patients.
Dr Paul Brennan is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Neurosurgery and Honorary Consultant Neurosurgeon and works out of both the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian. Dr Brennan is leading on projects we fund looking at the transition of low-grade tumours into high-grade tumours, as well as on a project awarded as part of our 2016 Adult Early Diagnosis initiative.
“Our research aims to understand the reasons why some adult patients take longer than others to be diagnosed with a brain tumour. The team will propose simple guidelines that will help GPs better identify which patients have a brain tumour and hopefully lead to rapid referral to a specialist. This research could transform the lives of brain tumour patients."
Dr Rachel Cox is a consultant paediatric oncologist based at University Hospitals Bristol. Her specialities include the late effects of childhood cancer treatment (Aftercare); treatment of all paediatric solid and brain tumours; supportive care of childhood cancer patients; Transition and management of chronic illness; Palliative care in cancer.
Dr Cox is also a member of a number of professional organisations including the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group's late effects sub group and the European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE).
Professor Filomena Maggino is an Associate Professor of Social Statistics at Sapienza University of Rome. Currently she serves as: Editor-in-Chief of Social Indicators Research journal, President and co-founder of the Italian Association for Quality-of-Life Studies (AIQUAV) and past-president of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS).
She is a member of several international associations, including Eurostat's Expert Group on Quality of Life and many editorial boards of scientific journals and scientific committees.
Dr Maggino's research interest include social indicators, statistics and political communication as well as quality of life, quality of society and well-being measurement and analysis.
Dr Diane Puccetti is a leading paediatric hematologist-oncologist in Madison, Wisconsin and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Meriter Hospital and University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. She received her medical degree from University of Toledo College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
Dr Puccetti is the Director of the Caring for Life clinic and leads the late effects clinical research programme at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. The goals of the clinic include detecting and treating problems related to being a childhood cancer survivor, facilitating transition of medical care to an adult care system and sharing ongoing research findings with childhood cancer survivors.
Professor Maggie Watson holds honorary appointments of Clinical Psychologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and a Professorship at University College London, UK.
Professor Watson was a Research Fellow at Kings College Medical School, University of London specialising in psychosocial aspects of cancer and was appointed Consultant Clinical Psychologist in 1991 at the Royal Marsden Hospital. She was Head of the Royal Marsden Hospital's Psychological Medicine Department for the period 2003 – 2010 and is author or editor of seven books and 190 publications.
Professor Watson co-founded the British Psychosocial Oncology Society in 1982 and is a past president of the International Psycho-oncology Society. Her clinical research interests include psychological interventions including cognitive behavioural therapy as well as cancer and families.
Our commitment to our beneficiaries is crucial to us and as such, we feel that it is important to allow our community the opportunity to use their personal experience of the disease to contribute to the research grant awarding process. Hence, we also have five lay representatives who are a part of the SABs to provide their expert-by-experience perspective on whether the applications that we receive for funding are important and/or feasible for patients. Find out a little more about them below.
Deborah's daughter Ella was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma at the age of three and has suffered greatly at the hands of her treatment. Despite this she is a remarkable young girl and along with her siblings has been involved with The Charity for many years, attending a number of our Family Days. Following all the support the family received, Deborah wanted to give something back.
She is passionate about helping finding a cure for this dreadful disease but also improving the quality of life of those affected. Having been a member of the Research Involvement Network for a number of years, Deborah was honoured to be a part of our SABs to provide her expert-by-experience perspective to contribute to the funding of our research.
Christina works as a lawyer in London and has a young son who was diagnosed with a low grade brain tumour. She knows the difficulty of getting a correct and early diagnosis and is a proud supporter of our HeadSmart campaign. Christina was eager to be part of the SABs, representing patients' views when considering funding for prospective research projects.
She wishes for her experience of diagnosis, treatment and long term effects of brain tumours to help inform future funding decisions, ensuring that they serve the best outcomes for families.
Celine is a Professor of Physics at Durham University. Along with her father, she was one of the main carers for her mother who had a meningioma. During the fourth and last occurrence of the tumour, Celine realised that some of the treatments and care proposed by the medical teams were extremely inadequate or very hard to put in place. The treatments had a huge impact on her family making end of life care for her mother very difficult.
Improvements in diagnosis and well-being of brain tumour patients (particularly at the end of their lives) therefore constituted her strong motivations to join the SABs and contribute to our research funding process.
Louise was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011 and underwent surgery to remove the tumour. After receiving a high level of support from The Charity, she wanted to give something back whilst helping others who had been affected. She believes research is key in identifying the causes of brain tumours and discovering treatments that can improve the quality of life of patients.
Being a part of the SABs is important to Louise as it means helping to shape the direction of future research funding and to be able to give important input from a patient perspective.
Rachel's husband Alex was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma when he was 22, subsequently having a number of surgeries to remove the tumour. Unfortunately, Alex contracted ventriculitis and spent two months in neuro-ICU during which he had over 20 more operations including a craniotomy, consequently resulting in neurological deficit. Now at 31, Rachel and Alex are getting used to life together again with their beautiful 3 year old daughter.
Whilst it's been a challenging few years for the family, Rachel wished to join the SABs to find a silver lining to their experience by contributing to future research in the hope that somewhere along the line, a cure for this devastating disease can be found.
These scientists and clinicians are part of a wider group of people who are key to achieving our goals of doubling survival and halving the harm. They fill various roles by sharing their knowledge and experience with us and we are indebted to them for this.
Dr Sam Blackman is a physician-scientist and paediatric haematologist-oncologist who focuses on the clinical development of new therapeutics for cancer.
He is currently the Head of Clinical Development at Silverback Therapeutics and was previously the Senior Medical Director at Juno Therapeutics where he focused on the development of immunotherapy treatments for leukaemia. Previously, he was the Head of Translational Medicine at Seattle Genetics where he oversaw integration and planning for early clinical testing of new immunotherapy treatments.
Dr Blackman's research interests include oncology drug development, translational research in oncology, pharmacology and molecular biology.
Dr Nick Foreman is a leading paediatric neuro-oncologist and holds the position of Seebaum/Tschetter Chair of Paediatric Neuro-Oncology at Children's Hospital Colorado. He has a key interest in the development of clinical protocols for children with difficult to treat brain tumours and his lab interests concentrate on the development of novel therapies with glial tumours.
Dr Foreman runs a lab working to develop new therapies for resistant brain tumours in children. They do small trials internally; then those are taken to the Paediatric Oncology Experimental Trials Consortium, which is comprised of eight institutions. They are looking at the role of micro-RNAs in brain tumours and how they regulate activity within the cell.
Professor Cynthia Hawkins is a paediatric neuropathologist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada. Her practice involves both surgical and autopsy neuropathology and includes neuro-oncologic, neuromuscular and neurodevelopmental disease. She is also a principal investigator at the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre and a Professor at the University of Toronto.
Prof Hawkins' research interests include molecular pathogenesis and therapeutics for paediatric astrocytomas, in particular diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and the identification and clinical implementation of novel prognostic and therapeutic markers for paediatric brain tumours.
Dr Mark Kieran is the Director of Paediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Associate Professor at Boston Children's Hospital.
Dr Kieran's research interests have two major areas of focus. The first in the identification of novel molecular targets in pediatric brain tumors, especially astrocytomas (low-grade, high-grade and DIPG) and personalized therapies to treat these tumors both more effectively and with less toxicity. The second area of research is to better understand the tumor microenvironment.
Dr Kieran has been instrumental in advising on our initiative to establish a Research and Innovation Centre for Paediatric Low Grade Brain Tumours.
Professor Barry Pizer is a Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at Alder Hey Children's Hospital. He is a prominent member of the national Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) and has sat on the Executive group of the CCLG. He has a particular interest in tumours of the central nervous system in children and young people, and is a member and has chaired the CCLG CNS Tumour Division. He was Chair of the CCLG Supportive Care Working Group and founded both the CCLG Mouth Care Group and Good Ideas Group.
He is also the current Chair of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology-Europe Brain Tumour Group and has led on a number of national and international clinical trials, particularly for medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumour in childhood.
Professor Pizer is committed to helping to provide support for paediatric oncology in developing countries (PODC) and established the CCLG PODC Group. He has helped develop paediatric oncology units in Nepal, Cameroon and Bosnia.
Dr Uri Tabori is an active physician in the treatment of children with cancer, focusing particularly on those with brain tumours at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada. Based on his clinical and research interests, he participates in the development of systems for early detection and intervention in individuals determined to be at high-risk of developing brain tumours. This includes patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2, Li-Fraumeni syndrome and mismatch repair genes.
The Tabori lab is focused on combining biological and translational research in paediatric oncology. Specifically, they are interested in studying mechanisms underlying brain tumour immortality and recurrence in the context of predisposition to cancer.
Professor Susan Short is Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-Oncology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology Wellcome Trust. She has a specialist interest in treating adults with poor prognosis brain tumours as well as optimisation of radiotherapy for brain tumour patients. She trained at King's College London and then worked at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals and The Royal Marsden Hospital, where she completed specialist training in Clinical Oncology in 2001. Her PhD in radiation biology was awarded in 1999 by University of London. Since then she has worked in clinical and translational neuro-oncology, as Senior Lecturer at University College London between 2007 and 2012 and since April 2012 as Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-Oncology at the University of Leeds.
Professor Short has also developed and run clinical studies addressing novel treatments for glioma and meningioma and was Chair of the NCRI Brain Tumour Clinical Study Group in the UK between 2006 and 2011.