Skip to Main Content Go to Sitemap

Brain Tumour Research Centre

The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre (BTRC) is where top scientists and clinicians from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University Health Network (UHN) collaborate on human brain tumour studies.  

We share a virtual laboratory at the University of Toronto with other UHN scientists and clinicians, allowing us to share ideas, resources and equipment as we study the molecular basis of brain tumour progression. This multidisciplinary approach has facilitated outstanding basic and applied molecular neuro-oncology research, scientific publications and translational research. 

To stay on the forefront of brain tumour studies, lab staff attends weekly research conferences where progress is evaluated, new models are discussed and research is compared with clinical data. Labatt BTRC members also engage in a weekly seminar series that reviews the latest cancer research. 

What is a brain tumour?

Learn about different types of brain tumours, and how they're diagnosed, graded and treated at AboutKidsHealth.

Visit AboutKidsHealth

Current brain tumour research

The BTRC aims to cure children and adults with brain tumours, while progressing towards more predictable clinical control of the condition. By determining how brain tumours form on a molecular level, our team is in a unique position to develop new scientific and clinical therapies. 

We’re currently embarking on four specific research goals: 

  • Investigate the molecular basis of brain tumour progression through an analysis of genes which controls the cell cycle, signal transduction pathways, tumour angiogenesis, and invasion. 
  • Study the role of cell death (apoptotic) and tumour suppressor gene pathways in human brain tumours. 
  • Develop new methods to treat patients based on our growing knowledge of human brain tumours. Discoveries from the laboratory are quickly translated to effective clinical trials for patients with intracranial neoplasms. 
  • Maintaintumour banks for adult and childhood brain tumours, in which specimens can be kept to serve as a University of Toronto and nation-wide resource for investigators in molecular neuro-oncology. 

Ongoing research and training of staff, fellows, and students in brain tumour biology and therapy is made possible by the donations from Arthur and Sonia Labatt. 

Research labs of the BTRC

The BTRC is home to numerous labs dedicated to brain tumour research, each named for their principal investigator. While each lab's research focus is unique, there is much collaboration between them. Learn more about the labs, their published research and team members by visiting their websites below. 

Headshot of Dr. Sunit Das.

Dr. Sunit Das

Das Lab

The Das Lab is focused on understanding the epigenetic mechanisms that control cell identity and cell fate in glioblastoma.

Headshot of Dr. Peter Dirks.

Dr. Peter Dirks

Peter Dirks Lab

The Dirks Lab is focused on the biology of brain tumours of children and adults with a primary aim to understand the link between stem cell biology development and brain tumour growth.

Headshot of Dr. Cynthia Hawkins.

Dr. Cynthia Hawkins

Hawkins Lab

The Hawkins Lab 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.

Headshot of Dr. Annie Huang.

Dr. Annie Huang

A. Huang Lab

The A. Huang Lab focuses on understanding the molecular spectrum of rare childhood brain tumours (ATRTs/PNETs/embryonal) with the goal of defining disease mechanisms and improving diagnosis and therapeutics.

Headshot of Dr. Xi Huang.

Dr. Xi Huang

X. Huang Lab

Using multi-disciplinary approaches in bioinformatics, genetics, xenograft modeling, cell biology, imaging, electrophysiology and bioengineering, the X. Huang Lab decodes ion channel functions in brain tumours and develops ion channel-targeting cancer therapeutics.

Headshot of Dr. Jane McGlade.

Dr. Jane McGlade

McGlade Lab

The McGlade Lab research program is directed towards understanding the specificity and dynamics of protein-protein interactions involved in cell signalling events that contribute to the development of cancer.

Headshot of Dr. Vijay Ramaswamy.

Dr. Vijay Ramaswamy

Ramaswamy Lab

The Ramaswamy Lab's focus is the translational genomics of medulloblastoma and ependymoma with a focus on recurrent disease. They apply clinical correlates to recent genomic findings with an overarching goal of identifying new and more robust risk stratification for both entities.

Headshot of Dr. James Rutka.

Dr. James Rutka

Rutka Lab

The Rutka Lab is actively exploring the application of novel technologies for tumour therapies including delivery of therapeutics to tumours using gold nanoparticles and temporary disruption of the blood-brain barrier with focused ultrasound.

Headshot of Dr. Uri Tabori.

Dr. Uri Tabori

Tabori Lab

The Tabori Lab focuses on three areas of research: telomere maintenance in cancer, factors which contribute to aggressiveness and spontaneous growth arrest of paediatric low-grade astrocytomas, and Biallelic Mismatch Repair Deficiency.

Headshot of Dr. Michael Taylor.

Dr. Michael Taylor

Taylor Lab

The Taylor Lab investigates how normal cells turn into brain tumours. Genomic analyses and genetic tools allow the team to create new animal models of medulloblastoma and ependymoma so that novel targeted therapies can be developed.

Affiliated groups and organizational resources

The BTRC is proud to collaborate with many stakeholders in the community including affiliated hospitals, philanthropic organizations and other institutions dedicated to brain tumour research. Many of the common organizations affiliated with the BTRC can be found below:

BTRC Annual Report

The Brain Tumour Research Centre publishes an annual report highlighting our team members, events, and published research.

BTRC Annual Report 2022-2023 cover page

2022–2023 Annual Report

This year's annual report features an interview with Sean Egan, the newest principal investigator at the BTRC. Dr. Egan's research focuses on the role of copy number abberations (CNA) in cancer and the biological response of cells to these mutations.

Read the 2022–2023 Annual Report

Support the BTRC

Thanks to consistent support from SickKids donors, we've been able to advance impactful research and training for staff, fellows and students in brain tumour biology and therapy.

If you’d like to make a contribution to the Centre, you can donate directly to the Labatt BTRC through the SickKids Foundation.

  1. Go to the SickKids Foundation website
  2. Click on the “donate” button 
  3. Select “one-time” donation and enter the amount you wish to donate
  4. Select method of payment (Credit card, Visa debit, Paypal and Visa checkout)
  5. On the next page select “For a specific area or purpose” and enter "Arthur & Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre"

We appreciate your support! 

Contact us

Brain Tumour Research Centre Office
SickKids Research Institute
Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning
686 Bay Street, 17-9702
Toronto, ON M5G 0A4
Back to Top