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Mabbott Lab

Donald's biosketch

see caption

Donald J. Mabbott, PhD, C. Psych.

The Hospital for Sick Children
Psychologist, Department of Psychology

Member of Paediatric Brain Tumour Program

Research Institute
Program Head and Senior Scientist
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto
Professor, Department of Paediatrics


Dr. Donald Mabbott received his PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Alberta in 1998 and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in paediatric neuropsychology at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) with Dr. Mary Lou Smith. Immediately prior to taking his current position at SickKids, Mabbott worked with the Northern Alberta Children's Cancer Program at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta.  He is Program Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health at SickKids.  He is a psychologist with the Paediatric Brain Tumour Program in the Division of Haematology/Oncology, a Senior Scientist at SickKids, and a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. Mabbott provides clinical neuropsychology services to children with brain tumours and their families and has a research program in developmental neuropsychology.

Research Interests

Mabbott  uses a combination of neuroimaging and behavioural techniques to understand the relationship between neural damage and cognitive deficits in children treated for brain tumours

  • Developmental neuropsychology
  • Neurocognitive late effects of paediatric brain tumours.
  • Multi-modal neuro-imaging
  • Brain repair

Research Activities

  • Neurocognitive Outcome following Brain Tumour Diagnosis and Treatment
    Mabbott is evaluating brain/behaviour relations in normal and impaired neurodevelopment using cognitive data and quantitative MRI methods. Currently, Mabbott is examining neurocognitive outcome following diagnosis and treatment with radiation for brain tumours: cranial radiation is associated with intellectual decline. Specific objectives of the program include: (a) to determine whether the use of lower doses and/or focal fields of radiotherapy significantly reduce neurocognitive late effects and (b) to examine processing speed, attention, and working memory to determine if deficits in these core neurocognitive domains underline the decline in intelligence.
  • White Matter Injury and Neurocognitive Outcome
    Mabbott is beginning to examine the relations between white matter integrity and neurobehavioural functioning using Diffusion Tensor MRI. Specifically, his goal is to determine whether quantitative DT-MRI values within regions of interest in the brain are related to neurocognitive outcome. Using MRI imaging methods to identify changes in the brain that are predictive of later neuropsychologic toxicity may make it possible to modify treatment among patients at risk, perhaps avoiding severe sequelae.
  • How Structure Impacts Function (MEG, MRI, neurocognitive performance)
    Mabbott is particularly interested in understanding the links between white matter injury, neuronal function and neurocognitive impairment following cranial radiation; and doing this by integrating several neuroimaging techniques such as MEG, MRI approaches such as DTI and MTI that measure functional (MEG) and structural (DTI and MTI) changes in children treated for brain tumours.

    In Mabbott's lab, the aims of this type of approach are to understand how neuronal function is impacted by tumours and treatment, to understand the relations between neuronal function and white matter injury and to establish a causal model that delineates how white matter injury and neuronal dysfunction each contribute to cognitive deficits in children treated for brain tumours.

External Funding

  • Institute of Human Development Child and Youth Health – Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM)
  • Brain Canada Foundation