Our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board (SMAB)

The role of the SMAB is to:

  • Recommend international peer reviewers for the applications, based on the reviewers’ knowledge of established Centres
  • Provide one or two members to accompany charity Research Sub-Committee members on initial site visits prior to engagement of new Centres
  • Ensure representative attendance at an annual Research Centres Workshop, which will  include receiving Centre reports to ensure quality of research, and feedback any concerns to the Research Sub-Committee who will instigate formal procedures in the event of a negative review
  • Provide ongoing advice to the Brain Tumour Research team and ‘expert’ quotes and support with raising awareness through the media and with politicians
  • Provide one or two members to accompany charity Research Sub-Committee members on Quinquennial Review site visits

SMAB members do not have tenure.  Each member will serve for three years with an option to serve for a further period of two to three years providing at least half of the members remain to ensure continuity and allowing for natural attrition through retirement etc.

Members of the SMAB include independent researchers who are not beneficiaries for a particular application round. Potential beneficiaries are not present when decisions are being made about their application.

Professor David Walker

David Walker is now Professor of Paediatric Oncology and co-director, with Professor Richard Grundy, of the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre. Since being appointed at the University of Nottingham in 1990, he led the development of the clinical service for children with cancer in Nottingham as part of the Mid-Trent region until 2006. The Nottingham Centre is part of the East Midlands Children & Young People’s Integrated Cancer Service (CYPICS), lead centre for the Trent Health region with a population of six million people. He has participated in NHS management in a variety of roles including Clinical Director for Children’s Services, lead clinician for Cancer Services, and is now lead clinician for Mid-Trent Cancer Research Network.

He has played a major role in promoting clinical trials across the UK and in Europe for childhood brain tumours having chaired the UK CCLG Brain Tumour Trials committee and the SIOP (European) Trials Committee. He co-chairs the SIOPe Childhood Low Grade Glioma consortium, which links clinical researchers recruiting patients for trials of novel therapies from16 countries in Europe. Their current trial has recruited over 3000 registrants since 2004. He is also active in promoting novel work in CNS directed drug delivery, pre-school medulloblastoma, and adult low grade glioma.

His research interests have a broad spectrum within paediatric oncology with a particular interest in brain tumours, health outcomes, functional imaging, drug delivery, clinical trials and adolescent medicine. Since the late nineties he has been the co-director of the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre which was launched by the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Appeal, led by the then Vice Chancellor, Prof Sir Colin Campbell. This Research Centre has brought together over sixty clinical and scientific researchers across the University interested in research related to childhood brain tumours.

The current flagship project, Brain Pathways and its “Headsmart – Be brain tumour aware” campaign, is aiming to raise awareness across the UK of the relative risk of brain tumours in children and young people as one of the differential diagnoses of a broad spectrum of children’s symptoms. Headsmart was launched in June 2011, supported by an evidence-based age-stratified health messages decision-support website and an evaluation programme, and is the product of a collaboration between the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, The Brain Tumour Charity, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, and funded by The Health Foundation. This programme has recently reported evidence of enhanced paediatrician confidence in making a diagnosis and evidence nationally of a reduced interval from symptom onset to diagnosis.

Professor Walker has participated in the All Party Parliamentary Group concerned with brain tumours, since its inception in the last Parliament in the UK and advises on academic matters and matters related to brain tumours occurring in early life during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

Professor Walker is an elected member of the Societe Internationale d’Oncologie Pediatrique Europe (SIOPE) Board and has participated in the initial contact with the European Parliament in Brussels. He has participated in three Parliamentary sessions, sponsored by Mrs Glenis Wilmott, MEP for East Midlands and Co-Chair of the Health Committee in the European Parliament under the heading of Rare Cancers, where young people have shared their experiences in person of being diagnosed and treated for cancer in early life. He is a Trustee of the Ellen MacArthur Trust. 

Professor Garth Cruickshank

Bio coming soon

Kathreena Kurian

Bio coming soon

Kevin O’ Neill

Bio coming soon

Lynda Gunn

Lynda Gunn qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1986, and has worked within the Neurosurgical Department in Sheffield since 1990. The first 10 years on the Neurosurgical Intensive Care/High Dependency Unit, and now as a Neurosurgical Nurse Practitioner.

She was the first nurse to present a paper at the Society British of Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) 2004, and the first nurse affiliated member of the SBNS in 2007.

Her clinical role includes that of a functioning Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Skull Base Tumour MDT in Sheffield, and has seen first-hand the trauma and challenges experienced by patients and their family/carers where there is a tumour diagnosis.



Mr Michael D Jenkinson

Michael Jenkinson qualified from the University of Liverpool in 1998 and completed his basic surgical training in 2001. He undertook neurosurgical training at The Walton Centre, Liverpool between 2001 and 2010, which included three years as a clinical research fellow culminating in a PhD in Neuroscience (Imaging and Biology of Oligodendroglial Tumours). He learnt awake craniotomy and brain mapping techniques in Liverpool, San Francisco and Montpellier and obtained his CCST in 2009. He was appointed as a Consultant Neurosurgeon and Honorary Senior Lecturer at The Walton Centre and University of Liverpool in 2010.

He sub-specialises in neurosurgical oncology for intrinsic brain tumours including awake craniotomy and intra-operative brain mapping for low grade glioma, midline and endoscopic approaches to intraventricular and deep intrinsic tumours and stereotactic radiosurgery. He sits in the NCRI brain tumour clinical studies group and the Imaging and Technology subgroup, and is a member of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons academic committee, and associate editor of the British Journal of Neurosurgery.

His research interests include imaging and biology of gliomas and cerebral metastases, clinical trials of new therapeutics for gliomas and stereotactic radiosurgery for brain metastasis. He has recently developed a £1.3m clinical trial for patients with atypical meningioma as part of a collaboration with the EORTC, and a funding decision from the NIHR HTA is expected in December 2013.

He recently appeared in the Channel 5 series ‘Brain Hospital: Saving Lives’, which raised public awareness of the challenges faced by brain tumour patients and their families and friends. He is also the co-chief investigator on the £2.04m multi-centre national BASICS trial (The British Antibiotic and Silver Impregnated Catheters for ventriculoperitoneal Shunts randomized controlled trial).

Professor Oliver Hanemann

Having attended various Medical Schools including Hamburg, Glasgow, John Hopkins and Harvard between 1981 and 1988, Oliver earned a DFG research fellowship in molecular neurobiology between 1988 and 1990 and then went on to neurology training becoming a lecturer for Neurology and Neurobiology and honorary consultant from 1998 at the Medical School in Dusseldorf. From 2000 Oliver was a consultant, and this included his role as clinical lead and senior lecturer at the Medical School in Ulm. Since 2005 Oliver has held the chair of clinical neurobiology at the Peninsula Medical School.

Oliver is the Neurology lead in the Peninsula Neuro-oncology network, a member of the NCRN brain tumour group (until 2013), member of scientific advisory boards (e.g. Children’s Tumour Foundation, Lord Dowding Fund (until 2013), and Brain Research Trust). He is a member of the council and lead of research committee of the British Neuro-Oncology Society (BNOS). OIiver has been a reviewer for approx. 17 international journals including Brain, Cancer Res, Oncogene and a reviewer for funding bodies including: Wellcome, The Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and DFG

His research interests have focused on low grade brain tumours since 1996. He has attended approx 40 invited lectures around the globe and supervised more than 15 PhD students - quite a few finished with distinction and started a career in academia. Oliver’s team focuses on cell biology studies to find and validate new therapeutic targets. Following his aim to work on translational science, he also looks after many patients with these diseases as an honorary consultant.

Professor Robert William Lea

Professor Bob Lea is presently a Professor in Neurosciences, and Director of Research in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire. His initial research concerned the neurobiology of endocrine/behaviour interactions. During this time he collaborated extensively with the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, and research groups in North America, Europe and Japan. Since 2003 his research interests shifted to clinical neuroscience and in particular the problem of brain tumour.

In this respect he established the Neuro-endocrino-oncology, (NEO), Research Group consisting of researchers and clinicians from the University and the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology at the Royal Preston Hospital. A key development of this initiative was the establishment of a tissue bank to allow the collection of primary glioma tissue for both molecular and pathological studies and for use in in vitro culture systems.

He is co-founder of Brain Tumour North West, (2007), a strategic alliance of University and Health institutions throughout the North West of the UK. This has enabled this region to become a focus for co-ordinated, multi-disciplinary brain tumour research centred on the use of primary tissue.

Bob Lea has published over 100 peer reviewed articles in addition to a number of reviews and book chapters.

Professor Silvia Marino

Silvia Marino is Professor of Neuropathology at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London and also Honorary Consultant Neuropathologist at Barts and The London NHS Trust. After studying Medicine at the University of Turin in Italy, Professor Marino trained in Neuropathology and Histopathology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. She trained in molecular genetics with Professor Anton Berns at The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow of the European Community studying the role of the tumour suppressor Rb and p53 in the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma in genetically engineered mouse models.

She established her own laboratory research group in 2002 firstly at the Institute of Pathology, University of Zurich and then since 2006 at the Blizard Institute in London, studying basic cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the central nervous system and how these mechanisms can contribute to the pathogenesis of brain tumours when deregulated.

Dr Tom Flannery

Dr Flannery is currently a consultant neurosurgeon with the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). Tom has a specialty interest in neuro-oncology and stereotactic radiosurgery. His initial research demonstrated the role of cathepsin S protease in glioma invasion. He has subsequently completed fellowship training in stereotactic radiosurgery (Pittsburgh) and brain tumour research models (San Francisco).

Since his return, he has developed a Glioma research programme in Belfast focusing on radiation resistance and invasion - key hallmarks of gliomas - in conjunction with Professor Chris Scott, Professor Kevin Prise and other colleagues based in the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology, QUB.

As Clinical Lead of the Northern Ireland Neuro-oncology MDT, Dr Flannery has also forged a strong clinical and research partnership with Brainwaves NI to further promote a Glioma Research programme in Belfast. He is looking to build a centre of excellence in order to continue to build on the existing strengths in Belfast to identify novel therapies to improve the response of these tumours to radiotherapy and limit their spread in normal brain. 

Dr Tracy Warr

Tracy is a lead research scientist with over 20 years of experience in experimental neuro-oncology, initially at the Institute of Neurology, UCL, London and more recently as Reader in Neuro-oncology in the Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Wolverhampton. Together with Professor John Darling, she leads a team of molecular and cell biologists in a research programme aimed at improving outcome for paediatric and adult patients with low-grade and malignant glioma. Her specific research interests include

  • understanding the genetic mechanisms driving brain tumour development 
  • identifying robust predictive markers of clinical outcome, including malignant progression, tumour recurrence, response to therapy and overall survival
  • understanding the molecular basis of chemotherapeutic resistance
  • identifying and validating novel therapeutic targets for clinical intervention

She has served as a council member of the British Neuro-oncology Society (2005 - 2013) and as a member of the NCRN Brain Tumour Study Group Translational Subgroup (2006 – present). She has also sat on the scientific advisory boards for charities including Brain Tumour Research, Ali’s Dream and Children with Cancer.

She is committed to the recruitment, training and retention of smart, dedicated young investigators into the field of neuro-oncology research. She is also passionate about the responsibility of researchers to communicate their scientific findings to their supporters, particularly patients and their families and carers.

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