The Robert Connor Dawes Foundation & Pirate Ship Foundation PhD Grant

We’re pleased to introduce our newest PhD grant recipient, Jamie-Lee Pitcher. This grant is co-funded with The Pirate Ship Foundation, over three years.

Jamie’s research is titled: Determining the Role of ErbB4 in Aggressive Childhood Brain Cancer.

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is the most aggressive form of primary brain cancer in children, responsible for approximately 75% of all brain stem tumours in children and at least 10% of all childhood brain cancers diagnosed in Australia annually. Unfortunately, DIPG treatments are currently ineffective with surgery rarely having an effect while radiotherapy and chemotherapy return only temporary results. As a result, most DIPG patients survive less than a year after diagnosis. Sadly, the survival rates of DIPG have barely improved over the past 30 years.

This study is focussing on the protein called ErbB4. ErbB4 is a protein that passes signals from the outside of a cell to the inside of the cell to help maintain normal cell behaviour. Higher levels of ErbB4 are present in DIPG cells than normal cells, and it seems to increase the aggression of the cancer, as well as reducing the effectiveness of treatment. This study will focus on revealing the function of ErbB4 in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma and determining whether it is viable as a target for treatment in the hope that it will lead to new, more effective therapies for patients.

Jamie will undertake her PhD studies at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, under the supervision of Professor Terry Johns.

We look forward to hearing more about Jamie’s research!

Read more about Professor Terry Johns and  Telethon Kids Institute here

Read more about The Pirate Ship Foundation here