Translational work

I am leading a collaborative project at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge that aims to improve mapping of cognitive function for patients with brain tumours. Some patients with low grade gliomas (LGG) undergo awake craniotomy to remove the tumour. During surgery, the patients perform some cognitive tasks (usually language-related), and in conjunction with focal direct electrical stimulation this is used to functionally map the exposed brain tissue. This information is then used by the neurosurgeon to determine how much of the tissue to remove in order to preserve essential cognitive function and ensure good quality of life post-surgery. In this project, we aim to expand this procedure to executive function as well as improve the entire functional mapping process. We use a combination of techniques before, during, and after surgery, including direct electrical stimulation (DES), electrocorticography (ECoG), neuroimaging (fMRI, DTI). More broadly we aim to understand how brain networks relate to cognitive function in these patients, how plasticity processes support the preservation of cognitive function following surgery and what tools can be developed to improve the functional mapping procedure and neurocognitive assessment for clinical use. The collected data are also used to address fundamental basic science questions such as the spatial and temporal organisation of the neural systems involved in executive function and language.

I initiated this project in 2014 with Mr Thomas Santarius, a neurosurgery consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK.

Later in 2015 Mr Mike Hart (neurosurgery registrar at Addenbrooke’s Hospital) joined the project.

Since then our team has grown quite a bit and currently includes an inter-disciplinary group of people, including both clinical and scientific members.

Our first patient was tested early in 2017.

We presented first results in September 2017 at the Cambridge Neuroscience Symposium, with one of our posters being selected for a short talk.

Follow me on Twitter for more updates: @YaaraErez