Professor Greig de Zubicaray
(Queensland University of Technology Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation)
More than 60 per cent of childhood brain cancers are located in the lower region of the brain known as the ‘posterior fossa’, which plays a key role in motor function, speech and language.
Aggressive treatment of posterior fossa tumours – as well as the tumours themselves – cause significant long-term complications to the core functions of this brain region.
As many as two out of every three children who survive posterior fossa tumours are left with significant speech and language impairments, which have life-long consequences for them and their families.
Despite this, little is known about the risk factors for developing these debilitating side effects.
The multidisciplinary team led by Professor de Zubicaray will use state-of-the-art neuroimaging equipment at the Herston Imaging Research Facility, combined with comprehensive clinical speech and language assessments. The goal is to improve understanding of the long-term outcomes of posterior fossa tumours and identify risk factors for the development of chronic speech and language impairments in these childhood brain cancer survivors.
The potential outcomes
This research project will provide important information for strategic treatment decisions, particularly in regard to precise surgical techniques and optimal therapeutic combinations. It may be possible to adjust these treatments, so they have a reduced impact on the brain – and therefore on a child’s speech and language.
The ultimate, long-term goal is improved treatment options, improved quality of life, and fewer life-long impairments for brain cancer survivors.
The research team
A/Prof Katie McMahon
Queensland University of Technology, Deputy Director Herston Imaging Research Facility
CBCC Postdoctoral Research Fellow Verena Pritchard
Queensland University of Technology
Dr Martin Wood
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Neurosurgeon
Dr Timothy Hassall
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Oncologist, CBCC Program Director
Dr Wayne Nicolls
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Oncologist
Prof Greig de Zubicaray
Queensland University of Technology, CBCC Program Director, Neuropsychologis
Dr Owen Lloyd
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Neuropsychologist
Ms Carly Hood
PhD candidate, Queensland University of Technology