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David Walker

Professor of Paediatric Oncology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



​I was born in Scotland, lived in the North East of England before moving to London where I was educated at Westminster School. I came to University of Nottingham's Faculty of Medicine in 1972, where I was one of the 3rd cohort of medical students. After my house jobs at Nottingham General Hospital I went on to work at Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge, Leicester Hospitals, St Mary's Hospital London, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, back to GOSH before being appointed as Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at Nottingham's QMC. I am married with two daughters

Since that appointment I have

  • led the development of children's haemato-oncology service in Nottingham until 2005
  • led the undergraduate teaching programme in Child Health in the 1990's
  • led the national and European brain tumour trials' committees in the 1990's
  • chaired the development of the national brain tumour guidance document published in 1997, identifying the UK network of children's brain tumour treatment centres, which was published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and used by the Department of Health (DH) to direct funding,
  • fulfilled the role of national treasurer of the UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (Formerly UKCCSG),
  • initiated and directed the development of the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre (CBTRC) since 1997,
  • shared in the lobbying process, which resulted in the establishment of the All Party Parliamentary Group on brain tumours and helped re-establish this group, launching its manifesto in the new Parliament in 2010,
  • led the Mid Trent NIHR Cancer Research Network (NCRN), since 2004, delivering the infrastructure to offer access to clinical trials as an integral part of clinical care for as many patients with cancer as wish to participate,
  • acted as Clinical Director of Children's Services at QMC during the re-launch of Nottingham Children's Hospital in 2005-7,
  • been sponsored by the Teenage Cancer Trust as visiting Professor at Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne in 2007,
  • initiated the Brain Pathways project, which developed the clinical referral guidance for children with symptoms and signs of brain tumour. This guidance is now endorsed by NHS Evidence and is the focus of a public and professional awareness campaign, called HeadSmart Be Brain Tumour Aware,, which was awarded an NHS Innovation Award worth £100,000
  • been elected as member of the SIOP Europe Board, this is the society representing professional and scientific views related to children and young people's cancer in Europe
  • been appointed as a Trustee of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, which promotes sail training as therapeutic recreation for children and young people with a history of cancer,
  • so far, completed 175 of 286 Munros, the mountains of over 3000 feet in height in Scotland,
  • completed the Nottingham Lifecycle 2011 by cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End, 1030 miles in 14 days with a great team from Nottingham University

Expertise Summary

I have expertise in 4 main areas relating to my work as a specialist paediatrician and academic

  1. Clinical practice in paediatrics and haemato-oncology
  2. Education of undergraduates and post graduates
  3. Translational research
  4. Medical and professional management

1. Clinical practice in paediatrics focuses upon managing clinical problems in individuals who are in the process of growing and developing within a family, whilst pursuing education and training for adult life. During my career, health services have extended the scope of practice in this area to include teenagers and young adult (TYA) up to 24 years of age. This has come about because the processes of growth and development have a profound effect upon the style of communication, clinical practice and facilities that young people need, to be appropriately managed, when they are ill. The diseases that young people get differ in the character, frequently as a result of the interaction between normal tissue growth and development and the disease process eg infection or cancer. I have particular interest and training in the management of the TYA patient.

2. I have explored a wide range of educational techniques and strategies during my time as leader of the under graduate programme in child health. As an undergraduate in Nottingham I was exposed to the ground breaking education programme that was developed by the course leaders of the time. The course's philosophy, design and structure has largely survived the past 4 decades, despite the major changes in expectation by the public and profession. I have led and contributed extensively to post graduate education within the University and in national and international clinical and scientific training conferences

3. As a clinician working in a field where clinical trials are offered routinely to new patients as a way of enhancing their access to the latest treatments, translational research is an integral part of my clinical practice. Close clinical observation is the bedrock of translational research. Testing hypotheses based upon clinical observation provides a strong impetus to apply the results of research back in practice. This creates the need to collaborate with a wide variety of research disciplines which in my case has included, nursing, psychology, psychiatry, rehabilitation therapists, social work, epidemiology, health economics, molecular biology, statistics, physiology, engineering, neuroscience, pharmacy, pharmacology, radiology, ophthalmology, pathology, surgery, radiation therapy, medical oncology, endocrinology and neurology.

4. Medical and professional management is an integral part of working in large institutions. Organisation of clinical or academic activities requires participants to contribute to strategy and implementation of institutional priorities, which in Government supported institutions, such as the NHS and Universities, needs close integration with national strategy development and implementation. I have contributed extensively in these processes both implementing and influencing national and regional strategies in NHS and University initiatives in clinical practice, education and research.

Teaching Summary

Undergraduate teaching activities:

· Pre-University: I organise ('91-'13) final year students' clinical experience (2-5 students per year). I have recently joined a national widening access network.

· Undergraduate: I deliver student teaching at 3rd, 4th and 5th year supervising projects (yr 3), contributing to Developmental Neuroscience module (yr 3), paediatric module and firm supervision (yr 4), SSM coordination (yr 5). Student project work has been widely presented, some winning awards or published. Median student feedback scores are > 4/5.

· I contribute to course development and management as 4th yr Paediatric Module Coordinator ('90-'97), 3rd year coordinator ('11-'13); internal examiner 4th yr Child Health '90-'13; external examiner at Imperial College ('08-'11).

Post-graduate teaching activities:

· I teach, supervise and examine students on MSc Oncology Module, and MSc, DM and PhD projects. Look at Appraisal documents for detail

· Post graduate clinical training and translational research keynote talks

Invited lectures (since 2008)

1. Invited speaker Teenage Cancer Trust 'Towards Best Practice' Conference, London, February 2008

2. Invited speaker 5th SIOP Asia Conference, Sultanate of Oman, February 2008

3. Invited speaker Perspectives in Central Nervous System malignancies IV, Berlin, Germany, March 2008

4. Invited speaker National Cancer Research Network, Leeds, March 2008

5. Oral presentation RCPCH Spring Meeting, York, April 2008

6. Invited speaker TYA Frontier Meeting, Cambridge, April 2008

7. Oral presentation 5th Teenage Cancer Trust Conference, London, June 2008

8. Invited speaker 40th Congress of SIOP, Berlin, October 2008

9. Invited speaker ESO-SIOPE Masterclass in Paediatric Oncology, Ascona, Switzerland, November 2008

10. Invited speaker Children & Teenagers Scottish Cancer Network (CATSCAN) conference, Edinburgh, June 2009

11. Invited speaker 13th Annual Conference of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Chapter of Indian Academy of Paediatrics,

Chandigarh, India, November 2009

12. Invited speaker 12th International Paediatric Haematology & Oncology Update Meeting, Edinburgh, April 2010

13. Invited speaker 14th International Symposium on Paediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO) Conference, London, June 2010

14. Session chair 6th Teenage Cancer Trust Conference, London, June 2010

15. Invited speaker 42nd Annual SIOP Congress, Boston (USA), October 2010

16. Invited speaker Youth Conference, Oslo, November 2010

17. Invited speaker Consensus Conference on Paediatric Neurosurgery, Paris, February 2011

18. Invited speaker RCPCH Spring Meeting, Warwick, April 2011

19. Session Chair European Multi-disciplinary Cancer Congress, Stockholm, Sweden, September 2011

20. Invited Speaker TYAC Spring Education Day, Nottingham, April 2012

21. Invited Lecturer European Paediatric Neurology Society Training Course, Sarajevo, Bosnia, May 2012

22. Invited Speaker 13th International Paediatric Haematology & Oncology Update Meeting, Edinburgh, May 2012

23. Invited Speaker European Association of Neuro-Oncology (EANO) Meeting, Marseille, France, September 2012

24. Invited Speaker SIOP 2012 Congress, London, October 2012

25. Keynote Speaker Mestitz Memorial Lecture, Brighton Children's Hospital, October 2012

26. Invited Speaker Turkish Paediatric Oncology Society Antalya Turkey April 2013

27. Session Chair BNA 2013: Festival of Neuroscience, London, April 2013

28. Plenary Session Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health Annual Conference, Glasgow, June 2013

29. Invited speaker

& Session Chair European Clinical Cancer Organisation (ECCO) Amsterdam October 2013

30. Invited Speaker World Federation Neuro-Oncology (WFNO) San Francisco November 2013

31. Invited lecturer ESTRO PROS Training Course for Paediatric Radiotherapy December 2013

32. Session Chair International Symposium Paediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO 2014) June 2014 Singapore

33. Invited speaker European Association Neuro-Oncology Turin, Italy October 2014

34. Invited speaker SIOP Annual Conference Radiotherapy Group Toronto Canada October 2014

35. Invited speaker Columbus Children's Hospital Ohio US October 2014

36. Invited Speaker Norwegian Paediatric Oncology Society, Tromso, January 2015

Research Summary

Co-Director of the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre. The centre's activities are described on their website (

Principal Investigator, HeadSmart Campaign ( A public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the interval between symptom onset to diagnosis in the UK to be equivalent to the best reported worldwide. The programme is focussed upon children and young people < 18 years of age.

Selected Publications

Past Research

Research Publications


· Impact points 597.69

· 1502 citations

· Index 38.86 >95% centile

This section has been structured by themes of publications, which are listed with most recent publications first

· Education: This section summarises output in the form of peer-reviewed publications, book and chapters, conference leadership and keynote invited lectures

· Changing Practice: This group of publications covers communications directed at describing factors influencing the introduction of new clinical practice in paediatric oncology. (n=43)

· Clinical outcomes: This sections contains research directed at developing and evaluating new methods for measuring clinical outcomes in clinical trials in neuro-oncology. (n=13)

· Clinical trials: Reports of clinical trials with which I have been involved (n=15)

· Tumour bio-characterisation and developmental biology: Childhood cancer arises in growing tissues this area of work described scientific observations related to the characterisation of normal and tumour tissues factors (n=14)

· Drug Delivery: This work illustrates the work describing theoretical and clinical basis for optimising drug delivery to the brain, with a focus on intra-CSF directed chemotherapy. (n=9)

· Early Diagnosis: This describes work that has driven the evidence to support the HeadSmart Be Brain Tumour Aware Campaign which was a REF Case study in 2014 and mulit-award winning public and professional awareness campaign. (n=7)

Future Research

The focus for next 3 years is:

Converting the HeadSmart Be Brain Tumour Aware campaign to a national enhanced awareness programme which reduces the interval from symptom onset to diagnosis from 3 to 1 month at most across the UK.

To propagate this theme for international health services research.

To launch a phase 1 intrathecal infusion drug trial to explore the value of such an approach to patient care in disseminated brain tumours.

To develop a novel clinical trtial design to explore the optimised methods for selecting childhood patients with Optic Pathway Glioma associated with NF1 as well as those arising sporadically for trials of non surgical treatments aimed a saving vision.

To explore methods for selecting patients with cerebellar tumours at greatest risk of post operative mutism snd exploring methods for reducing the risks of the syndrome

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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