Innovative Therapeutics Theme

How do new therapies and treatment approaches for pediatric brain disorders directly affect brain structure, microstructure, metabolism and function?

The ultimate goal of all research is to improve the well-being of children by rigorously evaluating, and ultimately implementing innovative therapeutics. The development of innovative therapeutics is a primary focus of many investigators, who are working to understand the impact of novel therapies, such as dietary intervention, fetal surgery, epilepsy surgery and new treatments for neurometabolic disorders, on brain development.

Core Group Members

  • Dr. Doug Cochrane - Dr. Cochrane's research interests are in three principle areas: 1) The use of central nervous system imaging technologies to define physiological parameters or relevance to the treatment of children with hydrocephalus; 
    2) Health care systems development and change, focusing on the development of skills in providers through the analysis of risk and safety during surgical care; and 3) Spinal cord disorders affecting children including spina bifida and occipital-cervical cord compression. 

  • Dr. James Jan – The Melatonin Research Group introduced melatonin therapy for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities 18 years ago.  Dr. Jan and his team have continued our research in this field on the therapeutic use of melatonin, sleep medicine and neurophysiology. Presently they are involved in several research projects. Teaching pediatric sleep medicine is also our priority. As an electroencephalographer, Dr. Jan has been teaching and reading EEGs for 30 years now. Previously, his priority for three decades was vision research.

  • Dr. Blair Leavitt – Dr. Leavitt's research deals with the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease.  With his team, he first develops transgenic mouse models of specific human diseases and then tests new disease treatments in these models.  The YAC128 mouse model of Huntington’s disease accurately replicates the changes seen in humans with this disease and is a critical tool permitting my laboratory to evaluate new treatment strategies in mice prior to undertaking large-scale clinical trials in human patients.
    >> Centre for Molecular Medicine & Therapeutics 

  • Dr. Ash Singhal – Dr. Singhal is involved and interested in a multitude of pediatric neurosurgery topics; however, his main interests are head injuries and their causes, consequences and interactions with the environment. His research employs leading-edge imaging technologies as well as the study of potentially underlying environmental and genomic factors that may contribute to disease progression and outcome. Another major research focus is the monitoring and study of post-operative status, management and outcome of neurosurgery patients. 

  • Dr. Paul Steinbok – Dr. Steinbok's research has centered on evaluating outcomes in children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) after both dorsal rhizotomy and intrathecal baclofen, and involves multiple assessments by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. This research has led to a better understanding of which children with CP could benefit most from these procedures and expected results of the interventions. 
    >> UBC Department of Surgery

  • Dr. Sylvia Stockler – Dr. Stockler's research concentrates on the pathobiochemistry of genetic neurometabolic diseases.  Her research team uses an integrated approach based on clinical, biochemical, molecular, genetic, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and imaging analyses to study creatine deficiency syndromes as well as disorders of energy substrate depletion in the developing brain. Their paramount aim is to develop improved treatment strategies and extend them to other metabolic diseases of the brain. 

  • Dr. Margaret Weiss - Dr. Weiss researches attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), testing new medication treatments and looking at their effectiveness in real life settings. With her research group, she investigates how individuals with ADHD function and the impact of various types of symptoms on functioning as well as the impact of psychological and medication treatments on those outcomes. 

  • Dr. Cheryl Wellington – Disorders of cholesterol metabolism underlie several human diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Recently, cholesterol metabolism has been recognized to play a major role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Wellington's laboratory studies genes that regulate cholesterol metabolism throughout the body. As a result, they are at the interface between dementia and cardiovascular research.
    >> UBC Pathology profile