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Postdoctoral Fellow

Farhana Akter

Postdoctoral Fellow

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As a physician-scientist, I am very much aware that providing effective patient care is not a solo effort but requires a multi-disciplinary approach. In neurosurgery, we deal with many “heart sink” cases such as traumatic brain injuries and neurovascular emergencies, but none more so than glioblastoma, the most malignant brain tumor in adults. Unfortunately, despite surgery most patients relapse and the survival rate is astonishingly dismal.

How can we therefore improve the prognosis of these patients if surgery is not curative?

With these queries, I decided to embark on an academic clinical career and sought to better understand the disease. Majority of the research studies investigating glioblastoma currently use rodents as animal models. Despite the many advantages of using this model, there are also several limitations such as cost and issues with irreproducibility.

I therefore began to investigate whether the zebrafish larvae model with its high fecundity, transparency and low maintenance requirements, could be used as an alternative model.

In my current position I ask the following questions:

  1. Is the zebrafish larvae model a reliable model for investigating glioblastoma?
  2. Based on studies conducted on mice, I seek to understand whether neuronal activity is crucial for tumor growth and if so, can it be targeted pharmacologically to reduce tumor burden and improve survival?