Budget: 12 997 397,00 $

Start date: 01 April 2018 End date: 31 March 2022

Brain cancer remains a lethal and disabling disease, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among children under age 20 and the third-leading cause in young adults aged 20-39. This is in contrast to childhood leukemia and other blood cancers, where survival and quality of life have improved markedly based on improved classification and novel targeted therapies implemented at diagnosis. There are particularly aggressive forms of brain cancer, with barely 10 percent of children and young adults surviving three years after diagnosis, and other forms where those who do survive suffer severe lifelong disabilities due to the life-saving therapies they receive.


The research teams of Drs. Nada Jabado and Jacek Majewski of McGill University and Dr. Michael Taylor at SickKids have previously discovered that many pediatric brain tumours are driven by mutations in genes that play a significant role in brain development. They also provided tools to improve the diagnosis and better classify these brain cancers in children, promoting more effective treatments. To decrease the burden of survivorship and improve survival rates, this project will fast track the use of treatments targeting specific genetic alterations early at diagnosis. The team will also perform innovative investigations of the tumour genome and transcriptome, including at the single-cell level, to identify new alterations and specific vulnerabilities that can be targeted for therapy. The team will ensure treatments are validated through relevant disease models and fast-track meaningful clinical trials to tackle refractory brain tumours during this grant; the goal is to work closely with health-care providers and regulators to ensure the rapid translation of validated treatments to the bedside.


Ultimately, the team’s work will improve the survival rate and quality of life for children and young adults with brain cancer, both during and after treatment.


Short version                  

The research team will provide targeted treatments for children with brain cancer based on the genetic makeup of the tumours and work with health-care providers to validate and make these therapies rapidly available at the bedside following diagnosis. The team will also continue to chart new genetic alterations leading to brain cancer. This work will improve survival and enhance the quality of life of patients both during and after treatment, while allowing for a more effective use of health-care resources.



Lead Genome Centre: Génome Québec

Co-lead Genome Centre: Ontario Genomics

Co-project leaders:

Michael Taylor The Hospital for Sick Children, SickKids
Jacek Majewski Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre; McGill University


Co-investigators and Users:

Jennifer Fishman McGill University
Claudia Kleinman McGill University
Jean Lachaine Université de Montréal
Peter Dirks University of Toronto
Maryam Fouladi Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, United States
Aled Edwards University of Toronto
Cheryl Arrowsmith University of Toronto
Mathieu Lupien University of Toronto
Ioannis Ragoussis McGill University
Trevor Pugh University of Toronto
Alexandre Montpetit McGill University
Guillaume Bourque McGill University 
Mathieu Blanchette  McGill University
Marco Marra  BC Cancer Agency 
Steven  Jones  BC Cancer Agency 
Lincoln  Stein  University of Toronto 
Livia  Garzia  McGill University 
Vijay  Ramaswamy  The Hospital for Sick Children, SickKids
Lillian Siu University of Toronto 
Mark Kieran Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
Franco Carnevale McGill University
Jonathan Kimmelman McGill University
Nicholas King McGill University
Michelle McGowan Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, United States
Owen Roberts MK4 Pharma
Patrick Sullivan Team Finn Foundation: PROFYLE
Elizabeth Peeters b.r.a.i.n.child