The discovery of increasing numbers of gene mutations that have evolved into useful diagnostic biomarkers of CNS tumours has transformed the diagnostic approach and has contributed to more accurate classification of brain tumours. Many of these biomarkers are genetic alterations, such as point mutations, gene fusions, or chromosomal gains and losses. Yet a potentially even more transformational approach to clinically relevant classification of brain tumours may come from a readout of tumours’ epigenetic signatures, resulting in distinct profiles based on DNA methylation patterns.

This one-day workshop will provide a multifaceted view of epigenetic profiling in adult and paediatric brain tumour diagnostics. The workshop will convey the biological principles of epigenetics in health and disease with a focus on brain tumours and explain how methylation profiles are detected with current array technologies. The application of machine learning and the development of algorithms used for the classification of brain tumours will be presented. The introduction of methylation profiling and algorithmic classification into CNS tumour diagnostics in the UK will be complemented with examples how such approach can be applied to improve precision in paediatric and adult CNS tumour diagnostics. Also the limitations and pitfalls of this technology will be addressed.

Multidisciplinary approaches incorporating clinical - radiological – pathological correlations are essential for effective clinical management of patients with CNS tumours, and the clinical value of these diagnostic tests will be discussed in the workshop.

The workshop will be supplemented with interactive practical session where participants will have the opportunity to discuss the diagnostic approach to challenging adult and paediatric CNS tumour cases. These cases will be available to view in a digital format prior the workshop for registered participants and during the workshop.

The target audience for this event are neuropathologists, neuropathology trainees, general pathologists and general pathology trainees who’s work includes cancer diagnostics and actually also wider clinicians working in neurooncology, both adult and paediatric.


Friday 3rd May 2019


08.45    Registration & refreshments
09:15    Welcome - Dr Rachael Liebmann, RCPath
09:20    Welcome and Introduction - Professor Sebastian Brandner, UCL 
09:30    What is epigenetics – Professor Stephan Beck, UCL
10:10    DKFZ brain tumour methylation classifier – Professor David Capper, Charite, Berlin,                     Germany
10:40    Newcastle methylation classifier (paediatric tumours) – Professor Steve Clifford,                             Newcastle

11:10    Refreshments    

11:30    Integrated diagnostics using methylation arrays and expression profiling – Professor                       Thomas Jacques, UCL 
12:00    UK experience with methylation arrays for paediatric brain tumours – Dr Jessica                                Pickles, UCL
12:30    UK experience with methylation arrays for adult brain tumours – Dr Zane                                             Jaunmuktane, UCL

13:00    Lunch    
14:00    Clinical value. How do methylation classifier results change the clinical management –                   Dr Darren Hargrave, GOSH

14:30    Pathology radiology correlation. How do the integrated pathology diagnoses influence                the radiological interpretation – Dr Steffi Thust, UCLH

15:00    Refreshments
15:20    Case examples, with digital pathology available beforehand: 3 paediatric and 3 adult –                   Professor Sebastian Brandner, Dr Zane Jaunmuktane, Dr Tom Jacques, Professor                    David Capper
17:00    Concluding remarks – Professor Sebastian Brandner

17:10    Close 


Registration Fees

Online rates

Fellows: £198.00

Concessions: £106.00

Non RCPath Members: £275.00


Offline rates (payments via cheque/invoice or on the day payments

Fellows: £233  

Concessions: £139

Non-members; £306


To be held at the Royal College of Pathologists, 6 Alie Street, London E1 8QT.



MBT- 19

  • Professor Sebastian Brandner

    Sebastian Brandner, MD, FRCPath
    Professor of Neuropathology at UCL Institute of Neurology and
    Honorary Consultant Neuropathologist at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals NHS foundation Trust

    I started my research career during Medical School in Göttingen, and in 1993 joined the Institute of Neuropathology in Zurich, where I started my research on prion disease. I discovered that prions are toxic to nerve cells only when these express the normal PrP isoform, resulting in highly cited publications in Nature and PNAS. During my postdoctoral training I also developed an interest in the pathogenesis of brain tumours and I established my own research group. In 2001, I was recruited through the MRC international recruitment scheme to join the MRC Prion Unit at UCL Institute of Neurology and in 2004 I was appointed as Chair of Neuropathology and Head of the Division of Neuropathology at Queen Square. 
    In the field of neurodegenerative research I conducted several studies, funded by Public Health England, to screen the prevalence for the presence of vCJD prions in the UK. Our findings have important implications for the management of blood and blood products and for the handling of surgical instruments. Recently we discovered that amyloid beta, one of the proteins aggregating in Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted through medical procedures, published in Nature (2015) and Acta Neuropathologica (2018). 
    My research on brain tumours resulted in publications in Development, EMBO Journal (2010), Cancer Research (2013), Disease Models and Mechanisms (2016), and Oncogene (2018) showing how stem- and progenitor cells of the adult brain can give rise to brain tumours and how these tumours relate to human disease. 
    I am Training Programme Director in Diagnostic Neuropathology for London and co-opted member for the Specialty Advisory Committee and the Clinical Practice Committee of the British Neuropathology Society. I am Council member at the Royal College of pathologists.
    I am clinically active and lead the Diagnostic Molecular Pathology Service at the National Hospital. This service has over the last five years developed significantly, now serving several large catchment areas in the United Kingdom. Our most recent service development includes establishing methylation array analysis, available to pathologists and oncologists in the UK and overseas. We have recently published our experience with this technology In Acta Neuropathologica Communications (2019). 

  • Dr Zane Jaunmuktane

    Dr Zane Jaunmuktane is a clinical lecturer and honorary consultant neuropathologist in the Division of Neuropathology, University College London, Queen Square Institute of Neurology and the Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, Queen Square Brain Bank. One of her areas of expertise is in molecular diagnostics of adult brain tumours. She is particularly interested in implementing in routine clinical practice advanced molecular technologies for brain tumour classification, such as epigenetic profiling of neoplasms with methylation arrays.

  • Stephan Beck

    Stephan Beck is Professor of Medical Genomics at UCL since 2007 and Director of the UK Personal Genome Project. He received his PhD in 1985 from Konstanz University where he studied DNA structure. After appointments at the MRC-LMB in Cambridge, Millipore Corporation in Boston, and the ICRF in London, he joined the Sanger Centre in 1996. During his tenure as Head of Human Sequencing, he played a leading role in the sequencing and analysis of the human genome. His current research focuses on the genomics and epigenomics of phenotypic plasticity in health and disease to advance translational, regenerative and personalized medicine.

  • Professor David Capper

    David Capper is a professor of molecular neuropathology at the Charité Berlin and a group leader of the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), partner site Berlin of the German cancer research center (DKFZ). He studied medicine in Tubingen and for a short period in Bristol and did his medical specialty training as a neuropathologist in Tübingen, Zurich and Heidelberg. During his postdoctoral training, he worked at the University Hospital Heidelberg and at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. In 2017, he founded his own research group at the Charité focusing on brain tumor classification and cancer epigenetics.

  • Professor Steve Clifford

    Professor Steve Clifford is Director of the Northern Institute of Cancer Research (NICR) at Newcastle University.  He graduated with First Class Honours in Applied Biology (Cardiff University) and a PhD in Cancer Molecular Biology (Newcastle University) in the early ‘90s.  Following post-docs at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, he was appointed to a tenured Lectureship at Newcastle University in 2000, and as Professor of Molecular Paediatric Oncology in 2009. Prof. Clifford directs the NICR’s paediatric brain tumour research programme (25 scientists/clinicians), with major interests in understanding the biological basis of embryonal brain tumour development (principally medulloblastoma, ATRT and other embryonal tumours), and translating these findings into improved clinical treatments.  He plays leading roles in national (CCLG, NCRI) and international (SIOP-Europe) research networks and clinical trials in medulloblastoma, and directs the UK national reference centre for medulloblastoma molecular diagnostics and pathology review. His research is supported by five-year programme grants from Cancer Research UK (Biomarker-driven therapies for medulloblastoma, £1.8M), The Brain Tumour Charity/Children with Cancer UK/Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity (INSTINCT:  The ICR-Newcastle University-UCL high-risk childhood brain tumour network, £3.9M) and NECCR (Infrastructure funding for paediatric oncology research in Newcastle, £1.2M), and he has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers. In teaching, he leads under-graduate modules in Cancer at Newcastle University, supervises (>20 to date) and regularly examines MD and PhD candidates. Prof. Clifford sits on advisory panels for Cancer Research UK, the French National Cancer Institute (INCa), Children with Cancer UK and The Neuroblastoma Society, and also helps run an outreach programme for children’s cancer care in Malawi, Africa.

  • Jessica Pickles

    Jessica Pickles is a postdoctoral scientist at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (GOS ICH) in London who works alongside the neuropathology department at GOSH. Her research focusses on improving the molecular diagnosis of high grade CNS tumours and understanding the biology of rare, embryonal tumours. Her research is part of a UK-wide project (INSTINCT) aimed at improving the outcomes of children with high-risk brain tumours, and is supported by: the Brain Tumour Charity, Children with Cancer UK, Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity, the National Institute for Health Research and the Olivia Hodson Cancer Fund. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Bath in 2010 before undertaking a PhD in cell transformation and senescence bypass at Brunel University London.