2007 Research Grants

In 2007, six new research grants were awarded to the following researchers in Canada.

Dr. Michael Cusimano

St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Project: A driving simulator study of brain tumour patients with focal cerebellar lesions.

Research Outcome: To date, preliminary data from the study’s seven patients and seven control group members indicate that the patients are slower at responding to aspects of driving that are more attention-demanding, such as turning left at intersections or responding to audio stimuli. Though these results are consistent with previous findings showing patients with cerebellar lesions are impaired on tests of attention, multitasking and executive functions, Dr. Cusimano’s project is one of the first studies to shed light on the potential impact cerebellar lesions have on real-world behaviours like drivingRead more!


Dr. Juliette Hukin

BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia

Project: Evaluation of biomarkers in relation to recurrence rate in childhood ependymoma.

Research Outcome: The main purpose of this research was to use banked tumour tissues to identify molecular and cellular biomarkers that will help to predict which tumours are likely to behave more aggressively or to respond to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Results from Dr. Hukin's research indicated that EGFR is prognostic of poor survival in childhood ependymoma. Positive EGFR may be limited to PF location. There was no predictive value with YB-1 or HER-2 alone.

Dr. Hukin is Clinical Associate Professor, Director of the Neuro-Oncology program at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, BC. 

Dr. Cynthia Menard

Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Project: Hippocampal Radiosurgery Exposure and Memory


Dr. Seyed M. Mirsattari

London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario

Project: Clinical features, epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of epilepsy associated with cerebral oligodendrogliomas in adults and children.

The main objective of this research was to quantify refractory epilepsy in patients with oligodendrogliomas, in order to identify prognostic factors of refractory epilepsy, and provide optimal seizure treatment.

Research Outcome: Upon completion of research this study showed that populations with oligodendrogliomas, Dr. Mirssattari found that medically refractory epilepsy occurred in 41.6% of patients. Common features amongst medically refractory patients include: extra-temporal lobe involvement, MRI enhancement, partial seizures and spikes/seizures on the EEG. Researchers indicate that with continual research, it may be possible to link these quantitative features with development of refractory epilepsy.

Dr. Mirssattari  is Assistant Professor Depts of Clinical Neurosciences, Medical Biophysics, Psychology, Diagnostic Radiology & Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.  


Dr. Aru Narendran

Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta

Project: Little patients are losing patience: Studies to evaluate urgently needed therapeutic agents for the treatment of atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour of the CNS.

Read a special article from Dr. Narendran's current progress with his research.


Dr. Michael Petrides

Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Quebec

Project: Development of new functional neuroimaging tools for the assessment of high-order cognitive functions in patients with low-grade gliomas.

Research Outcome: "Pre-operative assessments of motor, sensory, and speech functions are often assessed using neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in order to map functional tissue close to the brain tumour. This information is used by the neurosurgeon to spare as much as possible functional tissue close to the tumour. However, patients and their family members often report difficulties in managing the subtle cognitive deficits that occur post-operatively and depend on processes such as planning, tracking memories, selecting responses based on rules, mentally rotating things or reading and writing. The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada grant enabled us to examine high-order cognitive functions in brain-tumour patients that would undergo surgery using fMRI. Task protocols that were initially developed in healthy control human participants were adapted for patients and used to evaluate certain high-order cognitive functions in patients with tumours in the frontal or parietal lobes. These tasks included: a visuomotor association task known to activate the dorsal premotor cortex, a monitoring task known to activate the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a mental rotation task known to activate the parietal cortex, and a reading and writing task known to activate parts of the parietal cortex. Pre-operative fMRI results demonstrated functional tissue close to the patients’ tumours. Appropriate tasks were chosen on a case by case basis depending on the location of the tumour (i.e. patients with premotor tumours were tested on the visuomotor association protocol; patients with inferior parietal tumours were tested on the reading/writing protocol; etc). Intra-operatively, the patients were regularly tested on the task that was used for the pre-operative fMRI. This behavioural assessment allowed the neurosurgeon to verify whether the cognitive process of interest was preserved during the surgery and to adapt the surgical approach in order to minimize the potential deficits post-operatively. This procedure was a useful clinical tool since it allows an optimal tumour resection with the minimal cognitive deficits. The use of this procedure helped the patients’ post-operative quality of life. Patients who received pre-operative mapping as part of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada research grant reported a reassurance in knowing that there would be cognitive testing during the operation with the aim of monitoring closely certain cognitive abilities. There was a psychosocial benefit for patients and their families associated with having received pre-operative mapping, in addition to the provided benefit of preserving their higher-order functional abilities."

Any questions in regards to the Research Program, please call or e-mail the Research and Education Specialist:

Sue Ruypers
Research Program Specialist
sruypers@braintumour.ca
(519) 642-7755 or 1-800-265-5106 ext. 240

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