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€ 3 Million for ETZ research into better treatment brain tumors

Published: 01st May 2020 Last updated: 18th May 2020

What brain tumor treatment is the best choice if you do not only take the medical perspective into account but also the way in which patients can resume their lives afterwards? The Neurosurgery Department of the ETZ hospital (Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis) in Tilburg has received a € 3 million grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) for research on this question. There will be intensive collaboration with Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology as part of this project.

The treatment of a brain tumor, for instance, with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, can reduce neurological and cognitive symptoms, but can also cause or exacerbate problems because brain structures are damaged. When treating a brain tumor, it is therefore very important to strike the right balance between the best way to control the disease with a view to long-term survival, on the one hand, and the patient’s optimal personal functioning, on the other. These two considerations are not always compatible. At the moment, there is not sufficient information and knowledge available to make the most suitable choices together with the patient.

With this grant, more information can be gathered in different research projects, both on patients’ personal objectives (by means of an e-Health tool) and on the brain’s structure and functions (with new MRI techniques). With the help of artificial intelligence, models can be developed to predict individual treatment outcomes bases on unique medical, cognitive, and psychosocial patient data collected over many years.

The following Tilburg University departments are involved in this project:

  • The Cognitive Neuropsychology Department (Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences): Karin Gehring, Wouter de Baene, Margriet Sitskoorn;
  • The Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence Department (Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences): Marijn van Wingerden, Sebastian Olier, Sharon Ong, Eric Postma.

In the past ten years, there has been intensive collaboration between the ETZ’s Neurosurgery Department and Tilburg University’s Cognitive Neuropsychology Department in the field of brain tumors & cognition. In the period of 2014-2019, joint clinical-scientific research was conducted in the context of Experiment Topzorg (Highly Specialised Care Experiment); the current collaboration is a follow-up study.

Within the We Care program (joint research program of ETZ and Tilburg University), a grant has recently been awarded for a project on artificial intelligence, cognition, and brain tumors. The money will be used to make a start with AI analyses. The ReMind app, the cognitive rehabilitation app for brain tumor patients developed by Tilburg University colleagues Karin Gehring and Margriet Sitskoorn and the partner of a brain tumor patient, will also by implemented in the clinical practice.

The new project is subsidized by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), that works under the auspices of the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Given the current emphasis on corona care in the ETZ hospital, the start of the project has been postponed to October 1.

For more information, please see the ETZ website (in Dutch).