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Arthur & Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre

Alumni 2007

Young Shin Ra

Dr. Young Shin Ra, MD, PhD
I have been a research fellow with James Rutka since September, 2006. My research project at the BTRC is a nano-particulate mediated therapy in a medulloblastoma animal model and Rho GTPase role in glioma invasion. After completing this pre-clinical study, I hope we can cure the most malignant paediatric tumours using novel nano-drug chemotherapy.

During my clinical fellowship in the Division of Neurosurgery at SickKids with Harold J. Hoffman from 1994 to 1995, I realized that a basic research career can be another option for a neurosurgeon treating brain tumours and the surgical scientist program in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto was ideal for a surgeon working at the university. My aim was to join the BTRC one day.

I have been working as paediatric neurosurgeon at Asan Medical Center, at the University of Ulsan, Seoul, Korea, and have been granted a sabbatical year for research. Finally, after 10 years my dream has come true and I am working at the BTRC. I am really enjoying my work with great colleagues and attaining new knowledge, as well as enjoying Toronto with my family, my wife Vivian and my two sons Steve and Kevin.

koichi Yoshikawa

Dr. Koichi Yoshikawa, MD, PhD
I have been working as a research fellow in the laboratory of Peter Dirks since September of 2005. I graduated from Yamaguchi University School of Medicine (Japan) and entered the neurosurgical training program at Yamaguchi University Hospital in 1996. I received a PhD in immune gene therapy of experimental mouse brain tumour with adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of murine interleukin-4 in 2000.

After my Japanese neurosurgical board exams, I worked as an assistant professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Yamaguchi University School of Medicine, mostly on clinical work such as microneurosurgery and adjuvant therapy for brain tumour patients. At that time I felt limited with regard to some of the current treatment modalities in brain tumour treatment and felt the need for a new approach. So I looked for an attractive theme concerned with brain tumour research and found the papers about cancer stem cells from the Dirks laboratory. I was very fascinated and motivated by this field, and decided to come here and learn from world leaders. Currently, I am going to investigate the relationship between the normal neural stem cells and cancer stem cells.

Jeong Hyun Hwang

Dr. Jeong Hyun Hwang, MD
I was educated at the School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea. I then worked as a staff in Neurosurgery Department at Kyungpook National University Hospital as a neurosurgeon from 1998 to 2005. I have just started my research fellowship in Rutka's laboratory.

When I was in Korea, I almost centered on brain tumour surgery such as operation for malignant gliomas and skull base tumours. So I needed to study basic research for brain tumours to extend my knowledge about tumour biology and I found this Brain Tumour Research Center was outstanding laboratory in neuro-oncological field. This is why I began my fellowship at BTRC.

I have been always interested in malignant gliomas because those are very resistant to various therapeutic modalities and sometimes I was frustrated by grave outcome of my patients. Currently, I am going to investigate the molecular regulatory mechanisms about tumour cell motility/invasion especially in malignant gliomas because brain invasion is known to major obstacle to be overcome in astrocytomas.

Yukiko nakahara

Dr. Yukiko Nakahara, MD
I have been working at the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre (BTRC) since December of 2004 under the supervision of Michael Taylor and James Rutka. My research is focused on the identification of novel tumour suppressor genes in the malignant pediatric brain tumour, medulloblastoma.

I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Saga University Japan in 1999 and began a residency program in the Department of Neurosurgery. I received training in all aspects of neurosurgery and developed an interest in neuro-oncology. I started basic science research in Japan and studied the genetics of glioblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumour in adults. The clinical course of glioblastomas is dependent upon the biological behaviour of the tumour cells. I examined genetic aberrations in glioblastoma tumour specimens by using an array-CGH method.This research demonstrated that whole genome copy number profiles found in tumour specimens may provide prognostic information on glioblastoma patients (published in Neuro-Oncology, 2004).

With the recommendations of my research supervisor in Japan to study abroad and the opportunity provided to me by Rutka, today I am continuing my research efforts at the BTRC. I hope that my work will contribute to the further understanding of medulloblastomas.