A/Professor Stephanie Brown

Childhood Cancer Research

‘Biomarker analysis in paediatric tumours diagnosed within a single institution’

University of Sydney, NSW
Awarded 2010
Co-funded by the Rotary Club of Adelaide

“The total proportion of childhood cancers represents approximately 0.6% of all  cancers diagnosed.”

Researcher Profile

Le Myo Thwe was born in Lewe, Myanmar on 30th October, 1969. She passed  matriculation with five distinctions in 1986 from State High School No(2) Latha, Yangon and joined the Institute of Medicine (1), Yangon, Myanmar. Le obtained my MBBS degree in 1996 and after  finishing the house surgeon internship, she worked as a civil assistant surgeon for 2 years at Yangon General Hospital, which is a tertiary hospital in Myanmar. Then, Le became a demonstrator in the Department of Pathology, Institute of Medicine (1) , Yangon, Myanmar. Le attended  the  post-graduate course, Master of Medical Science ( Pathology) in December, 2000 and she obtained the Masters degree in April, 2003.

Le was promoted as assistant lecturer while attending the Masters course. In November , 2004, Le was  again promoted  as a lecturer / consultant  by merit. While working at the Institute of Medicine (1), Le taught under-graduate as well as post-graduate medical students and also provided laboratory services at the Department of Pathology in Yangon General Hospital. As per tradition in Myanmar, Le practised as a general practitioner in her private clinic. Le also founded Kyaik Waing Free of Charge Clinic for monks and worked as a medical officer and as a pathologist in every weekend from 1998 to 2008. Moreover, she supervised and trained assistant lecturers and demonstrators as well as  house surgeons. Then, Le came to Australia in 2008 and worked as a tutor  in the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Sydney in 2009. Le also worked as an honorary observer in the Department of Anatomical Pathology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. Now, Le is undertaking a  PhD degree at the Children’s Cancer Research Unit, Kids’ Research Institute, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, University of Sydney. Le is also a member of Australian Institute of Medical Scientists.

Project Summary


  • Derive clinical information-based cohorts of paediatric tumours with poor prognosis diagnosed at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
  • Determine over which time periods different tumour types need to be collected in order to obtain information cohorts.
  • Examine whether biomarkers can be feasibly assessed in these cohorts using immunohistochemical and other analyses.
  • Assess the expression of novel biomarkers in paediatric tumours with poor prognosis.


The total proportion of childhood cancers represents approximately 0.6% of all  cancers diagnosed. Biological molecules in tissue samples are known to degrade over time. If a tumour type requires samples to be collected over 10-20 years in order to obtain a statistically informative cohort, these samples may not b validly compared because of their different ages. Technical factors may therefore significantly influence biomarker analysis in childhood cancer.


Storage time of  samples affects measurements of gene and protein expression in paediatric tumour cohorts, due to samples being required to be collected over long period.


Clinical information for neuroblastoma patients will be obtained from tumour bank, Oncology database and medical records on Power Chat and be imported into SPSS for statistical analysis. We will also focus upon specimen ages, to examine the effects of storage time upon biomarker expression. Cohorts will be divided into subgroups based upon time since collection, and biomarker expression will be assessed using immunohistochemistry. Staining intensity will be assessed using visual scoring and Pixel counting.

Results and Conclusion

This project will have important implications for future research involving childhood cancers, as well as policies regarding biobanking and distribution of childhood cancer samples.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Jennifer Byrne, Dr Daniel Catchpoole & Dr Loretta Lau