Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation
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2016 Grant Recipient Researchers

In 2016, our Grants Program awarded more than $7 million in project grants and career development grants to researchers across the globe, as well as people and infrastructure support.

Are you a Researcher?

Each year we invest millions of dollars in a range of cerebral palsy research projects in Australia and overseas.
Find out how our Grants program can help start or progress your project.
Applications for 2017 Grants open 1 July – 31 August 2017.


Joakim Ek

University of Gothenburg

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$44,775
Targeting the vasculature for neuroprotection in neonatal brain injury

Restricted blood flow and oxygen to the brain during birth can results in injury to the brain (the medical term is Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, HIE). It occurs in 2-3 per 1000 term babies and is the leading cause of death and permanent, life-long disorders including cerebral palsy. There is clear evidence that the blood vessels are damaged in the injury process but very few new treatment strategies have been aimed at the vasculature. This project will clarify how blood vessels are damaged and test novel treatments for the brain blood vessels to restore their normal function.


Lena Krumlinde-Sundholm

Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$79,000
To evaluate and guide interventions of hand use for people with Cerebral Palsy. AHA…!

The AHA family of instruments comprise several different tests for infants to adults. These tests are developed using modern test theory by Rasch analysis. Subsequently, outcome measures are in the unit logits. All scale steps are then equally big and results can be compared at all levels of the scale. Each test has about half of its items equal to the adjacent scales. These items can be linked to have the same difficulty level, and the other items will adjust related to the anchored values. Measures from different scales can then be compared on one measurement ruler for all ages.


Shona Goldsmith

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Project Grant 2016
$66,218
The Comprehensive CA-CP Study: Combining congenital anomaly (CA) and cerebral palsy (CP) data for a comprehensive investigation into opportunities for prevention

Children with CP are at high risk of having co-occurring congenital anomalies. Because both conditions are relatively rare, large populations are required to comprehensively research this topic. This study will pool high quality data from registers in Australia and Europe, and will be ten times the size of any previous study. The study size will allow us to definitively determine the types of anomalies that co-occur, and their causal pathways to CP. We will hypothesize strategies to prevent pathways to congenital anomalies and CP, determine which are available now and need increased public health messaging and which require further research.


Mary Tolcos

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Project Grant 2016
$242,657
A novel antenatal therapy to correct white matter deficits in intrauterine growth restriction

Babies who grow poorly in the uterus often suffer brain injury at birth, and acquire disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Poor brain growth before birth is associated with delayed development of myelin-producing cells in the brain – oligodendrocytes – and this contributes to brain damage, particularly in the so-called white matter areas. We propose that impaired development of oligodendrocytes and white matter is caused by a deficiency in transport of thyroid hormone into the oligodendrocytes, and treatment with a novel thyroid hormone analogue – DITPA – which can easily enter these cells, will correct this type of brain damage


Jeffrey Craig

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Project Grant 2016
$95,128
Can we predict cerebral palsy at birth using epigenetics

Although most CP originates before birth, diagnosis is often delayed until the second year of life. We propose that “epigenetic“ gene switches known to be influenced by the environment before birth can be used to predict which babies will develop CP, enabling immediate intervention to help lessen the symptoms of this condition. We are studying a group of identical twin pairs discordant for CP to focus on early environment and not on genetics. We have generated some exciting data studying Victorian twins and would now like to see whether we find a similar pattern in twins in NSW.


Cathy Morgan

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Project Grant 2016
$170,000
Understanding the early natural history of cerebral palsy - retrospective and prospective cohort studies

These studies are of 2 separate but related groups of infants. The first study analyses existing Italian medical records for the purpose of identifying the best combination of assessments that ought to be used to accurately detect CP in infancy. Study two will map the development of infants with CP over the first two years of life. Infants at high risk of CP will be assessed at regular intervals in Australia and Italy to assist clinicians to identify muscle and joint problems (e.g. onset of pain, muscle stiffness) very early and help parents by accurately predicting the child’s prognosis.


Simon Paget

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Project Grant 2016
$72,575
National Registry for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy in Australia

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). SDR permanently reduces stiffness (spasticity) in the legs. The aim of the surgery is most commonly to improve walking abilities. Our understanding of what happens to children who have had SDR is incomplete. More information is needed to understand the impact of SDR long-term on mobility, families’ goals, self-care, quality of life and pain. This study aims to improve understanding of the outcomes of children after SDR by collecting information about children who have been treated by SDR across Australia


Alicia Spittle

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$100,000
Translating the “Baby Moves App" to assess infants General Movements from research to clinical practice

This grant will expand the use of a smart-phone application (app) called Baby Moves that can be used to assess the quality of infants’ movements using the General Movements assessment, the most valid and reliable method for detecting infants at risk of cerebral palsy (CP) in the first 4 months of life. We will expand our app and develop a secure server that can be accessed by health professionals and researchers throughout Australia.


Anne Moseley

The George Institute for Global Health

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$33,000
PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database): rapid access to the latest trials, reviews and guidelines on rehabilitation for people with cerebral palsy

This project will provide rapid access to the latest clinical research about the effects of rehabilitation for people with cerebral palsy. Users will be able to search PEDro using the cerebral palsy topic code and sign up to receive the latest content relevant to cerebral palsy using Evidence in your inbox. Users subscribing to the Evidence in your inbox – cerebral palsy feed will receive an email containing the latest research for cerebral palsy. This rapid access will provide healthcare workers around the world with easy and immediate access to high-quality clinical research so that they can use the most up-to-date knowledge to guide the treatment of people with cerebral palsy


Svetha Venkatesh

Deakin University

Project Grant 2016
$134,409
Accuracy of Machine Scoring of Fidgety Movements from High Risk infant populations

The project will construct methods for analysis of videos of fidgety movement obtained from high risk populations. This will involve:

  1. Construction of a platform to access, store, standardize and construct metadata for video data systematically.
  2. To apply machine learning methods, the video needs to be enhanced and “deconstructed” into representations that are machine readable. This is an important stage of the process as finding the appropriate representation is critical for accurate classification. This stage will explore extraction of motion features and their representation.
  3. Classifiers will then be constructed to separate the two classes (normal vs (abnormal+ borderline).
  4. Stages (b) and (c) have to be iterated to find the best combination of enhancements, features and classifiers for deriving the highest accuracy.

Mark Corbett

University of Adelaide

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$120,250
The Genetics of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) describes disorders comprised of varying degrees of impaired movement with or without other symptoms related to brain function such as intellectual disability and epilepsy. CP is traditionally regarded as a disease caused by lack of oxygen at birth due to environmental factors however our recent research shows that a large proportion of CP is genetic in origin. This project uses the currently best available methods to determine how many and which genes are involved in CP. The project delivers beneficial genetic diagnoses in the short-term and understanding of the biology behind CP causation in the long-term.


Brian Hoare

Monash Health

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
Beyond movement and posture: Understanding cognition in children with unilateral cerebral palsy

The ability to perform daily tasks, such as tying our shoelaces, requires much more than simply moving our muscle and joints. We need to think, understand and have a plan. This is known as cognition. Previous research in CP has predominantly focused on movement and not considered how cognition affects the ability to perform daily tasks. This research program will provide new knowledge to assist in better understanding the systems involved in task performance, beyond simply the movements required. This will inform existing, and develop new, more effective treatment approaches to improve the quality of care for children with CP


Tamara Yawno

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
A new promise for the treatment of neonatal seizures

Around 1 in 10 Australian newborns have fits each year and lack of oxygen is the most common cause. They can be difficult to identify and it is unclear what the best treatment is. They occur in the babies with the worst injury. This project will use a sheep model of premature injury from low oxygen to examine a new treatment, ganaxolone, as a treatment for neonatal seizures.


Natasha Bear

Perth Children’s Hospital

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$45,000
Developing Biostatistical leadership in cerebral palsy and disability research can lead to improved outcomes for children with cerebral palsy

I offer the unique skill combination as a physiotherapist and biostatistician. Currently there is a worldwide shortage of biostatisticians which is delaying research projects. I wish to focus my skills in cerebral palsy research:

1) Lung Disease/Chest infections risk factors

2) Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy – an operation that is only performed in Sydney, Melbourne or overseas. It aims to relax the muscle in their legs. Data will be collected across Australia and I have been asked by the group to analyze this data

3) Teaching statistics to clinicians– I aim to develop a workshop that helps improve confidence in using statistics.


Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$180,000
Early identification and prevention of CP from common congenital and neonatal viral infections CMV and HPeV

Neonatal and congenital infections such as congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) and the newly described human parechovirus (HPeV) are important, underrecognised contributors to neurodevelopmental disabilities including CP. This fellowship will enable a program of research to investigate the outcomes of these common infections. Large health datasets will be used to better define the incidence, aetiology, morbidity and mortality of cCMV in NSW. The General Movements Assessment will be investigated as a tool for identifying early risk of CP amongst infants with cCMV and HPeV. Finally, a national prospective cCMV disease registry will be used to assess effects of treatment on neurodevelopmental outcomes. This research program will identify early predictors of disability from these infections and inform targeted early interventions to reduce disability.


Madison Paton

The Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Career Development Grant 2016
$52,578
A targeted stem cell therapy for preterm brain inflammation

Infants who are exposed to infection in utero are likely to be born preterm and have a very high incidence of perinatal brain injury and cerebral palsy. Brain injury in these infants is most commonly observed in the white matter, and likely arises due to brain inflammation in response to infection, which is exacerbated by preterm birth. We propose that the anti-inflammatory and reparative properties of cord blood stem cells will be able to reduce brain inflammation and prevent the progression of brain injury.


Bobbi Fleiss

King’s College London

Career Development Grant 2016
$5,770
Career development support associated with: Perinatal Brain Injury – targeting delayed phase neuroinflammation to improve brain health

Injury to the developing brain, underlying cerebral palsy amongst other disorders, can cause delayed changes in gene expression, and differences in the response to further brain injury or inflammatory challenge in adulthood. These changes following injury are controlled in part by alterations in the brains immune cells (microglia). We will study modifications to microglial DNA (epigenetics) to understand these delayed changes and develop a novel nanoparticle-mediated therapy to restore their balance to normality, a proof-of-concept that the damaging effects of early life injury can be altered many weeks after injury to improve adult brain health


Shekeeb S Mohammad

The University of Sydney

Career Development Grant 2016
$15,000
Developing a low-cost community based intervention model for epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a result of brain injury due to various reasons, usually in early life. Children with CP have movement difficulties and many can have epilepsy. Although CP is not progressive, if epilepsy is not identified and properly treated, it can deprive these children of their full developmental potential. Through this project we will identify and treat these children using low cost interventions. We will also educate local healthcare workers to sustain this model of service delivery. Information from this project will also be used to design larger intervention studies and replicate the model in other resource poor settings


Belinda Deramore Denver

Australian Catholic University

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
Development and initial validation of an assessment of visual ability for children with cerebral palsy

This research will develop an assessment of the visual ability of children with cerebral palsy. Visual ability is defined as ‘how vision is used’, and consists of the visual behaviors that are observable during typical daily activities. The program of research will answer why a measure of visual ability should be used with children with cerebral palsy; who should assess visual abilities and whether parents and clinicians without expertise in vision can measure visual abilities; determine which children are important to assess; establish how visual ability be measured and described; and provide evidence for validity of the new assessment tool.


Nathanael James Yates

The University of Western Australia

Career Development Grant 2016
$3,972
Monitoring Brain Function in Preterm Lambs: Tracking Brain Development Using Electroencephalography

Premature birth and early life complications are risks for poor brain development, such as in cerebral palsy. There is a great need for cheap and effective clinical prognostic and diagnostic indicators. We propose using a commonly used measure of brain electrical activity, electroencephalography (EEG), to generate better understanding of brain development and predict the development abnormalities in the brain. Our long-term preterm lamb model offers opportunities for assessing which antenatal and postnatal factors contribute abnormal brain development. Technique will be then used in a clinical setting to establish how risks factors and neonatal treatment alter human neonate brain development


Eve Blair

Telethon Kids Institute

Distinguished Career Award 2016
$34,900
A Distinguished Career Award: to continue research in cerebral palsy in aetiology, prevention and life expectancy

This application seeks funding to assist with the completion of a number of projects outstanding when I retired from my funded position at the Telethon Kids Institute in 2015. They involve the conduct and documentation of research projects in both the aetiology and management of cerebral palsy as well as a consulting role for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, drawing on my training in scientific methods and 35 years’ experience in cerebral palsy research.


Sue Woolfenden

University of New South Wales

Career Development Grant 2016
$33,782
Opportunities for prevention and early detection of Cerebral Palsy in Australia and globally through the examination of sociodemographic profiles

The more a family struggles with money, education, employment and the poorer the neighbourhood they live in, the more likely their children will have poorer health and disabilities like CP compared to children from richer backgrounds. Also the poorer you are, the more likely it is that it is hard for you to get to services that will pick up your child’s disability early and get them to therapy that will make a difference. This research will see if this is the case for children with CP in Australia and then use this research to tackle these inequalities


Rosalie Power

University of Sydney

Career Development Grant 2016
$26,289
Health related quality of life of adolescents with cerebral palsy living in rural Bangladesh and the psychological wellbeing of their primary caregivers

Health related quality of life is a multidimensional concept for measuring physical, psychological, social and sexual wellbeing in relation to health. This topic is often overlooked during adolescence and to date there is no research into the health related quality of life of adolescents with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh. This proposed research will describe the health related quality of life of adolescents aged 13-18 years old with cerebral palsy living in rural Bangladesh. The research will also describe the psychological wellbeing of their primary caregivers. Systematic reviews will be undertaken to find out what is already known about this topic. Information will then be collected directly from adolescents with cerebral palsy and their primary caregivers. Using face-to-face questionnaires and interviews participants will be asked questions about their/ their adolescent’s physical, psychological, social, and sexual wellbeing. The primary care giver will also be asked question about their own wellbeing in relation to depression, anxiety and stress. This information will be used to guide the provision of resources and services to improve the long-term wellbeing of this population.


Gulam Khandaker

Child Sight Foundation, Bangladesh

TNA Project Grant 2016
$111,468
Establishing an assistive device centre for children with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh

We propose to establish a local wheelchair production operation (i.e. assistive device centre) to meet the needs of children with CP and their families as a well as to develop a model for integrated community based rehabilitation services for children with CP in rural communities of Bangladesh. Wheelchairs and assistive devices (walkers and other mobility aids) will be produced locally and the centre will also offer ongoing training, repair and maintenance of the devices for local NGOs and families. Once established this assistive device centre will also serve as a training facility for local and regional NGOs on integrated community based rehabilitation for children with CP in rural Bangladesh. This project has several interlocking components which includes;

  • A special wheelchair manufacturing/production facility
  • One-stop service centre for wheelchairs and other assistive devices
  • A training facility for local and regional NGOs and families of children with CP
  • Coordinating facility for community based rehabilitation services for children with CP in rural and remote communities

The project will;

  • reduce the significant shipping costs of wheelchairs (currently sourced from Australia)
  • enable low cost local sourcing of materials
  • build local capacity for manufacture and maintenance of wheelchairs and assistive devices
  • build local capacity for disability service provision
  • build capacity of parents and local health workers to deliver home based rehabilitation for their child with CP (through training provided as part of this project)
  • provide meaningful employment opportunities for local community members
  • enable the collection of vital disability data to build the Bangladesh CP Register (families who receive wheelchairs and devices will be asked to provide health data regarding their child’s disability).

Gulam Khandaker

Sydney University

Career Development Fellowship 2016
$60,000
Career Development Fellowship: Global program to map, detect and intervene in infection-related childhood disability

The work outlined in this proposal aims to improve lives of children with disability, some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The studies utilise a range of methodologies from qualitative research methods to highly complex population data analysis displaying a broad range of expertise, and collaborations with paediatricians, neonatologists, physiotherapist, anthropologists, disability experts, and social researchers. These projects will generate some of the first scientific evidence on infectious causes of childhood disabilities including CP, provide a better understanding of the global burden of CP, and complement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Australia would therefore be positioned within this area to make changes to empower people.


Gulam Khandaker

Child Sight Foundation, Bangladesh

Project Grant 2016
$60,000
Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (BCPR): scaling up and sustaining the first population based CP register from a low and middle income country

Continuation of the 2014 Project Grant Bangladesh CP Register.


Brooke Adair

Career Advancement Award 2016
$25,000
Learning best practice of international established activity programs for children with cerebral palsy: a correlation of evidence

International fact finding mission


Evan Y. Snyder

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

2016
US$190,000
Pre-IND-enabling studies: Evaluating the synergistic vs. antagonistic actions of human neural stem cells in combination with hypothermia for neuroprotection in perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury

Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the newborn brain (called “hypoxic-ischemic injury [HII]”) remains a devastating and common problem with serious life-long neurological sequelae, including CP, severe motor, sensory, and cognitive impairment, epilepsy, learning disabilities, and autistic behaviors. The cost to the economy is ~US$ 1 million-per-child in terms of life-long medical and rehabilitative care. The indirect costs based on the impact on family dynamics is 2-5-fold more. Presently there is no treatment or even an accurate predictor. The latest clinical intervention is head/body cooling which only helps modestly for moderate HII and only if started within the 1st 6 hours of life, meaning that many babies miss even this sub-optimal therapy. We have strong evidence that neural stem cells may rescue and protect endangered regions of the brain subjected to HII. We have also devised a brain imaging strategy for monitoring the evolution of the injury, selection of appropriate patients, and tracing improvement. Any new interventions for HII, however, must be coordinated with cooling which is now standard-of-care. Yet, it is not known how to coordinate the administration of these 2 modalities in a way that enables them to work additively with each other and not antagonistically. Once we have answered this question, we are prepared to request permission from the FDA to launch a clinical trial in babies at high risk for CP. There is a dire need for better, later, and more broadly-applicable treatments against HII that more elegantly target injurious processes. Were there a treatment that reduces the morbidity associated with neonatal HII, the benefits for affected infants and children, their families, and society would be enormous. In addition, brain imaging paradigms used in this proposal could be applied to many acquired or degenerative neural diseases of all ages.


Nathalie Linda Maitre

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Project Grant 2016
US$107,000
RCT of Feeding intervention with Pacifier Activated Device and Mother’s Voice in Infants at High-risk for Cerebral Palsy

Children with/at high-risk for CP have frequent feeding problems, such as dysphagias, chronic aspiration and abnormal feeding behaviors. These disorders often result in morbidities during infancy and have a profound impact on family/community participation and development into adulthood. Evidence for behaviorally-based feeding interventions ranges from insufficient to moderate, pointing to a clear need for rigorous studies. To address these needs and in keeping with research priorities of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the current proposal will determine the efficacy of non-nutritive suck (NNS) training using a pacifier-activated device (PAM) with mothers’ voice to condition suck-strength and rhythmicity, in improving the feeding and developmental outcomes of infants at high-risk for CP. We will perform a large randomized controlled trial in US and Australia NICU infants with abnormal General Movements and characteristic neuroimaging lesions to accomplish the following:

Aim 1: Demonstrate that NNS training with PAM/ mother’s voice will result in improved oral feeding skills before discharge as compared to control infants receiving mother’s voice separate from pacifier sucking.

Aim 2: Demonstrate that NNS training will result in fewer feeding difficulties and medical complications in the first year, with potentially improved neurodevelopment, in infants classified high-risk for CP by 3-4 month GMA.


Vedant A. Kulkarni

Shriners Hospitals for Children

Project Grant 2016
US$22,214
Smartphone App to Enable Community-Based Hip Surveillance for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Hip surveillance for children with cerebral palsy can significantly decrease the morbidity of hip displacement and maintain hip function. While hip surveillance programs have been effective in countries with centralized medical systems, application of hip surveillance guidelines to medical systems with less organization may require a more novel community-based approach. We have developed and preliminarily validated a free app called “HipScreen” (www.hipscreen.org) that contains information on hip surveillance adapted from the Australian Hip Surveillance Guidelines for Children with Cerebral Palsy 2014, protocols for proper radiograph acquisition, and a tool for measuring radiographs directly from the device screen. We aim to establish the validity of the app-based measurement of radiographs in users with experience in radiographic interpretation, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of a free online video-based tutorial to teach users without experience in radiographic interpretation to accurately interpret hip surveillance radiographs using the HipScreen app. With nearly 70% of the global population having access to a smartphone by 2020, a validated app for hip surveillance would allow hip surveillance to have global impact.


Shenandoah Robinson

Johns Hopkins University

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Making the Most of Mother Nature: Neonatal Combinatorial Therapy with Endogenous Neurorepair Agents

This proposal addresses the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s mission to identify novel therapeutic strategies for rapid translation to children with CP. Given that many children with CP have sensorimotor and cognitive deficits, there is a need to study strategies that address both functional pillars. The combination of erythropoietin and melatonin proposed here is directly translatable, given that both agents are currently administered to children in lower doses. Both agents are safe for use in infants, and capitalize on endogenous central nervous system (CNS) repair mechanisms. Notably, due to inherent balances in signalling, exploitation of endogenous repair mechanisms is not likely to derail neurodevelopment programming in infants. This proposal will also yield high-impact data on the cause of cerebral palsy, including spinal mediation of selective motor control and spasticity, and cognitive deficits, and thus aligns with the Alliance’s strategic priorities. To minimize the impact of CP, motor and cognitive outcomes must be addressed. Thus, the goal of this preclinical investigation is to test the impact of complementary mechanisms of erythropoietin and melatonin on function (Aim1), molecular pathways (Aim2) and clinically-relevant biomarkers (Aim3) in a rigorous preclinical model, to pave the way for a phase II clinical trial in the next 4 years.


Jane Huggins

University of Michigan

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Innovative Assessment of Receptive Language in People with Cerebral Palsy who are nonverbal: A Comparison of Eye-Gaze Interface and Brain-Computer Interface Test Administration Methods

People with neurodevelopmental conditions that include significant impairments in movement and speech are at high risk for comorbid cognitive impairments and learning disabilities. The motor and communication demands of standardized cognitive assessments make them inaccessible to people with the greatest need for accurate assessment. Misclassification of cognitive function for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) can result in inadequate or inappropriate medical interventions or educational planning. Long-term negative consequences of underestimating capabilities or needs are incalculable. Eye-Gaze Interfaces (EGIs) and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are assistive technology devices for individuals with CP that facilitate communication with limited or no volitional motor response demands. While both EGI and BCI create cognitive testing strategies requiring little or no physical ability, they differ in equipment and set-up, physical ability required, and access provided.

Therefore, this study will:

Aim 1: Compare BCI and EGI access methods to determine which method provides optimal accessibility for people with CP-related motor and speech impairments;

Aim 2: Determine whether individual characteristics, including oculomotor function and attention, predict PPVT-IV scores associated with each access method.

This study will contribute to the over-arching goal of universal assessment practices and to our understanding of the true cognitive capabilities of people with severe CP.


Zinaida Vexler

University of California

Project Grant 2016
US$190,000
Mesenchymal stem cells-derived extracellular vesicles for repair after neonatal stroke

More than half of all children with cerebral palsy (CP) are born at term. Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke is a major cause of CP. There are no effective treatments. It is recognized that brain immaturity affects both injury and recovery after stroke and that future studies should be focused on enhancing brain repair, not acute protection. In an age-appropriate rat model of perinatal focal arterial stroke, we demonstrated that delayed administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) improves long-term functional outcomes. A recently discovered conceptually novel principle of cell-cell communication, via release and uptake of extracellular vesicles (EV), has changed the perception of drug targets. EV signal by carrying/delivering cytokines/chemokines, miRNA, and growth factors. Therapeutic potential for MSC-derived EV in neonatal stroke is unknown. We hypothesize that MSC-derived EV carry long-term therapeutic effects after neonatal stroke.

Aim 1: using novel advanced technology (ImageStreamX) and mass-spectrometry, we will characterize EV and their cytokine and lipid “cargo”.

Aim 2: using a unique neonatal rodent arterial stroke model, we will examine long-term functional outcomes of administration of MSC-derived EV. We will use non-invasive DWI/T2W MRI to randomize injured pups and use longitudinal diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) to characterize injury progression.


Donna Ferriero

University of California

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Metabolomic identification of at risk newborns

Therapeutic hypothermia (TH), while being standard of care for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), provides protection for only 60% of babies. The overarching hypothesis is that the metabolic state of the brain immediately after TH differs markedly between hypothermia responders and non-responders. Changes in intracellular “metabolic fingerprints”, or metabolomics, can identify tissues at risk for continued energy failure and injury. The newly developed Hyperpolarized carbon-13 (HP-13C) MRI offers the ability to detect metabolic changes in near real-time. Pre-clinical animal studies are still needed to determine and evaluate the physiological differences between adults and pediatric patients as well as varying disease conditions.

Our aim is to determine the metabolic profiles in vivo that correspond to improved functional and structural outcomes. This aim will be accomplished by measuring the metabolic fingerprints and correlating it with outcomes in early adulthood.

Significance: Neonatal brain injury is an important cause of cerebral palsy and disabilities. Therapies have classically targeted individual pathways during early phases of injury, but targeting pathways later in the injury response may be more effective. These advanced imaging studies will allow for early identification of babies at risk for cerebral palsy and this would pave the way for translational studies to prevent cerebral palsy.


Jane Huggins

University of Michigan

Career Development Grant 2016
US$9,798
Smartphone App to Enable Community-Based Hip Surveillance for Children with Cerebral Palsy – Career Development Grant

This career development award will support Assistant Professor Huggins’ travel, as a brain-computer interface (BCI) researcher, to build collaborations with cerebral palsy (CP) researchers. The travel will create connections with CP researchers at the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine’s (AACPDM) Annual Meeting, Sept 12-16, 2017, in Montreal, Canada. Travel to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney will coordinate with a successful Project Grant application to the Research Foundation of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to compare BCI and eye-gaze. That visit will finalize data analysis and plan future collaborations on providing access to communication and cognitive assessment for people with CP.


Sarah McIntyre

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Project Grant 2016
$220,000 over 1 year
Does aetiology influence outcome of interventions following hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy?

Project Outline: We will systematically examine placentas, maternal obstetric records and maternal and infant blood samples of 300 infants enrolled into a randomized controlled trial. The trial (PAEAN) will compare therapeutic hypothermia (TH) and erythropoietin (TH+EPO) versus TH alone for newborns with clinically diagnosed HIE. The maternal aetiological findings will be linked to the PAEAN outcomes at two years of age to identify if different aetiologies influence the response to both TH and TH+EPO.


David Walker

MONASH UNIVERSITY

Project Grant 2016
$266,795 over 3 years
Does aetiology influence outcome of interventions following hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy?

Project Outline: Our extensive studies in pregnant laboratory animals (spiny mouse, sheep) lead us to propose that the incidence and severity of cerebral palsy can be dramatically reduced if women consume extra creatine during the latter stages of pregnancy. We will now study pregnant rhesus monkeys to show: (a) extra oral creatine results in creatine loading in the brain of neonates, and; (b) this simple intervention protects the neonate’s brain against oxygen starvation at birth. This primate study will also show that creatine supplementation is safe for the mother and baby, and will provide essential evidence justifying clinical trials in pregnant women.


Samanmali P Sumanasena Kularatne

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Project Grant 2016
$100,000
Establishment of the Sri Lankan Cerebral Palsy Register

The aim of this pilot study is to establish a Sri Lankan CP Register targeting two provinces of Sri Lanka, paving the way for a future national CP register. This pilot study will provide the first estimates of the prevalence, aetiology and clinical profile of children with CP in Sri Lanka. A dual surveillance system will be used to collect CP data through both hospital and community based surveillance in order to establish population-based estimates of CP. This data will be essential for identifying opportunities for primary and secondary prevention opportunities to improve the health outcomes for children with CP and their families in this region.


Katherine Benfer

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2016
$75,000
Community-based parent-delivered early detection and intervention for children at high risk of cerebral palsy in a low-resource setting: a randomised control trial

LEAP-CP (Learning through Everyday Activities with Parents) explores the effectiveness of early detection and intervention for infants at risk of cerebral palsy in low income countries. Infants will be screened using smart phone technology at 3 months of age, and be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups; community-based parent-delivered intervention (enriched environments and nutritional support), or standard care (health advice). Children receiving the intervention are expected to have better performance on motor/cognitive outcomes at 18 months, and caregivers to have improved mental health, which have the potential to reduce the burden of disability in low-income settings.


Elise Davis

University of Melbourne

Project Grant 2016
$80,000
Successfully negotiating life challenges: Learnings from adults with cerebral palsy

The aim of this research is investigate how adults with cerebral palsy have successfully negotiated major challenges of adulthood, along with factors that have supported successful outcomes. In-depth interviews will be conducted with approximately 50 adults with cerebral palsy. Learning from people with cerebral palsy about what has worked for them will help to build a strong evidence base that can be drawn upon to help others. The results will be used to inform interventions/program/services to facilitate the successful participation of adults with cerebral palsy.


Frances Milat

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2016
$39,000
The optimisation of bone health in adolescents and adults with cerebral palsy

Thin, fragile bones are problematic for adults with cerebral palsy. Poor bone health is due to factors such as reduced activity, nutritional issues and reduced sex hormones. Thin bones tend to fracture even without trauma, causing pain and a further reduction in function. The aim of this study is to investigate the causes of thin bones in adults with cerebral palsy, to develop guidelines for health care professionals to optimise bone health, and to evaluate if medications can reduce the risk of broken bones. We want to develop a protocol for assessing and optimising bone mass early in adolescence when bones are still growing.


Caroline Crowther

University of Auckland

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$83,400
Antenatal Magnesium Sulphate at 30-40 weeks' gestation for fetal neuroprotection - The MAGENTA trial

Magnesium sulphate is recommended for women at risk of giving birth before 30 weeks’ gestation. Whether there are benefits at later gestations is uncertain. The MAGENTA Study is assessing whether magnesium sulphate given to women at risk of very preterm birth, between 30 to 34 weeks’ gestation, increases the chance of their baby surviving without cerebral palsy. If the results show benefit this would be of great importance to women at risk of very preterm birth, their children, the community, and would represent a very significant health benefit for Australia and New Zealand as well as having enormous relevance globally


Cheryl Jones

University of Melbourne

Project Grant 2016
$120,000
Early identification of clinical, diagnostic and genetic risk factors for CP from early life human parechovirus (HPeV) infection, a potentially 'vaccine preventable cause of CP

Australia has experienced large outbreaks of a new virus, human parechovirus (HPeV) since 2013. It causes critical illness in young infants and sometimes brain damage. The long term effects are poorly understood, but are of concern. We have found that by 12 months, some infants develop CP and other developmental issues. We believe that HPeV may be an important, potentially preventable cause of CP. We have assembled the world’s largest group of HPeV survivors to investigate risks of CP from HPeV, and identify genetics and other risk predictors. This will inform treatment, follow up, early intervention, and prevention (e.g. vaccines).


Jozef Gecz

The University of Adelaide

Project Grant 2016
$261,442
Multi-omics investigations of cerebral palsy causation in discordant monozygotic twins and singletons

“Identical” twins are often different. We’re studying 15 discordant pairs, one has cerebral palsy (CP), the other doesn’t. This can be due to either new genetic mutations or the environment during pregnancy, which impacted one twin and not the other. We shall look for genetic and environmental differences in these twins and then in a large CP cohort. This will tell us why some children are more likely to develop CP than others. It will give us a toolbox for early diagnosis facilitating early intervention or even prevention of CP, if a significant impact of environmental factors is revealed.


Maryam Oskoui

Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$248,526
Genetic Insights into the Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability in children. We want to better understand how our genetic makeup leads to different forms of CP. We will study children and their parents who are participating in the Canadian CP Registry in Montreal and Toronto. From their blood, we will read all of their genetic information. This will help researchers to better understand what causes CP, to better counsel affected families and to find ways to prevent CP. Knowing what causes CP can one day help treat affected children.