Dr Debbie Hicks is a Newcastle University Research Fellow of Molecular Cancer Survivorship. She graduated with Honours in Molecular Biology (Edinburgh University, 2003). Her PhD and Post Doc in Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, (2009-2014) was using of next-generation sequencing approaches to the aetiology and diagnosis rare genetic diseases. Debbie moved to the Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, where she is applying multiple advanced genomic technologies to understand the molecular pathology of medulloblastoma. Specifically, she is elucidating the biological features in the development and progression of the disease to develop novel biomarkers for risk-stratification to enhance precision therapeutics. In 2019, Debbie was awarded a Fellowship to develop her portfolio to encompass medulloblastoma survivorship. Whilst nowadays ~60-70% of patients survive their medulloblastoma diagnosis, the aggressive nature of cancer treatment leaves survivors with a poor quality of life, often suffering multiple, life-limiting, and wide-ranging ‘late-effects’; most striking perhaps are the neurocognitive deficits that are the consequence of the developing brain’s intolerance to radiotherapeutic insult. Her research aims to reduce the disease/treatment-associated burden in medulloblastoma and other childhood cancer survivors by understanding the key clinico-molecular correlates of late effects, developing/ assessing reduced intensity therapies, and advancing drug, rehabilitation and surveillance strategies.
Debbie is a member of national (CCLG, BACR) and international (EACR) professional bodies, and sits on the International Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE) Embryonal Tumour, Quality of Survival and Biology working groups. She has published >80 peer-reviewed papers, two book chapters and is the recipient of the SIOP-E Best Basic and Translational Science award and a two times recipient of Elsevier Award for Best Oral Presentation, amongst others. Debbie has supervised 5 PhD candidates and >30 MRes, MSc, UG and Erasmus studentships.