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Hawkins Lab

Research Interests

Dr. Hawkins’ laboratory focuses on genetic and proteomic markers for prognostication and therapy guidance in paediatric brain tumours including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and high-grade glioma. Dr. Hawkins’ laboratory developed a clinical-biological model to predict the survival of DIPG and is now working on acquiring a more detailed knowledge of the biology of DIPG in order to tailor therapy to the particular biology and predict behaviour of an individual patient’s tumour.

Recent efforts by Dr. Hawkins’ lab has led to findings related to the clinical relevance of histone H3-K27M mutations in DIPG, molecular subgroups of DIPG (MYCN, Silent and H3-K27M), as well as mutations in a novel cancer gene, ACVR1. Current projects aim to model the interaction between these genetic alterations in DIPG to determine which combination of changes is necessary for tumour formation. In this way, we can better understand which genetic alterations are driving tumour formation and growth and thus represent the best candidates for drug targeting.

The development of new subgroup-specific models will help us understand why current radiation and chemotherapeutic strategies are failing. They will also serve as useful preclinical models for testing promising, new therapies and set the stage for stratified, subgroup-tailored clinical trials.