Workshop on drug delivery to the brain – 27th February 2020

by Emma Campbell, PhD - Children's Brain Tumour Drug Delivery Consortium 


On Thursday 27th February 2020, 73 enthusiastic delegates convened at the Surgeon’s Playfair Hall in Edinburgh, UK. The aim was to discuss transformative research that could lead to new, innovative ways of overcoming the challenges of brain tumour drug delivery, particularly in children.


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‘I met some very interesting potential collaborators and it gave me food for thought for future grants’

Sponsored by Children with Cancer UK, this was the CBTDDC’s (Children’s Brain Tumour Drug Delivery Consortium; second drug delivery workshop. We were delighted to welcome researchers, clinical academics, patient representatives, charities and pharma/biotech companies, all keen to share their rich and varied experience and knowledge.

‘Extremely interesting and informative’

Throughout the morning, delegates heard inspiring talks from international research leaders: 

  • Dr Sabine Mueller (DIPG Centre of Expertise, Zurich) – Brain tumour drug delivery translational research programmes 
  • Dr Marcel Kool (German Cancer Research Centre, DKFZ) - Pre-clinical models for paediatric brain cancers
  • Prof Cameron Alexander (University of Nottingham) – Stimuli-responsive polymeric nanomedicines for neuro-oncology
  • Dr Michael Canney (Scientific Director, CarThera) – Ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier disruption for drug delivery to the brain using the SonoCloud system.

‘All of the morning talks were fascinating and well-delivered’

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We made sure to allow plenty of time for networking!

As we broke for lunch, Dr Ruman Rahman, Co-Chair of the CBTDDC, opened a pump prime award funding call that we had linked to the workshop. Delegates who wished to apply were tasked with developing collaborative research ideas with other delegates and pitching for the awards later on that same day. It was a very energetic afternoon!

‘Excellent networking, discussions, and a nice diverse group’

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Networking 2 - 240

Networking 3 - 240


Our delegates worked hard and networked fervently. Towards the end of the afternoon, eight collaborative pitches were presented to the rest of the delegates and to the judging panel. A massive well done to everyone who gave it a shot! The three pitches selected for pump prime funding were:

  • Dr Nicola Farrer from the University of Oxford
  • Dr Peter Harvey from the University of Nottingham
  • Ms Julia Benzel from the German Cancer Research Centre.

You can read more about the pump prime research projects here.

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Photo (left to right): Ms Phoebe McCrorie and Dr Peter Harvey (collaborators on pump prime award), Ms Julia Benzel, and Dr Nicola Farrer and Dr Stephen Evans (collaborators on pump prime award).

Whilst the judges were making their decisions, we had the honour of hearing from Izzy Corbin, the mother of a boy with a brain tumour. Izzy very kindly shared her experiences with us. Hearing from patients and their families is always humbling, and Izzy’s talk left us in no doubt as to the vital importance of developing and delivering better treatments to children with brain tumours.

'Great workshop!'                                                                       'Excellent event!'

The journey back to Nottingham from the Edinburgh workshop gave us plenty of time to go through the feedback we’d received. Out of the 73 delegates, 43 returned feedback forms, all of whom said they found the workshop either ‘Extremely useful’ (25 respondents) or ‘Useful’ (18 respondents). We were absolutely delighted to see that all respondents also recommended that we run a similar event in the future.

The success of our Edinburgh 2020 workshop is evidence that there is increasing recognition of brain drug delivery as a research priority. We had 52 delegates from four countries in 2018. By our 2020 workshop, this had increased to 73 delegates from eight different countries. We’re looking forwards to seeing the brain tumour drug delivery community grow even further over the next couple of years. If you haven’t already, join us by registering here.

 'It was perfect!'

List of institutions represented at the workshop

Delegate institutions



Funding bodies

University of Nottingham

DIPG Centre of Expertise

German Cancer Research Centre

King’s College London

University of Strathclyde

Hopital Necker – Enfants Malades

Royal Hospital for Sick Children

CRUK Edinburgh Cancer Centre

Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Jesu

University of Edinburgh

University of Leeds

University of Oxford

Imperial College

University of Lund

NHS Scotland

University College London

University of Bristol

Harvard University 

Princes Maxima Hospital

Dana Farber Cancer Institute / Boston Children’s Hospital

University of Aberdeen


Pharma / Biotech

Renishaw Plc 


Midatech Pharma

WPD Pharmaceuticals



















The Netherlands











Brain Tumour Research

Cancer Research UK

Children with Cancer UK

Funding Neuro

The Brain Tumour Charity