Iris Paltin Research Program

Led by Iris Paltin PhD, researchers in the Paltin Research Program are focused on the effects of radiation therapy on the neurocognitive abilities of children who receive radiation to the brain. Specifically, members of the Paltin Research Program are studying the effects of proton therapy on neurocognitive functions that include changes to attentiveness, working memory, processing speed, executive functioning, long-term memory, emotional regulation and social skills. Researchers are also involved in research comparing the long-term effects of cranial photon radiation versus cranial proton radiation. The long-term goals of this research are to better inform treatment protocols, and to develop interventional strategies to minimize delayed neuropsychological effects of cranial proton radiation therapy on children.

Ongoing studies in the Paltin Research Program are assessing the effects of proton therapy on children with brain tumors by evaluating neurocognitive function before therapy and, then annually/bi-annually after treatment completion. The results of these studies will help identify individual risk and resiliency factors that interact with radiation treatment and impact brain development after proton therapy.  This will also aid in development of protective/interventional strategies that can minimize emergence of cognitive late effects that may occur after proton therapy. 

The Paltin Research Program is also involved in quality improvement projects that evaluate the efficacy of neuropsychological evaluations and feedbacks. This work examines how these evaluations contribute to a family’s understanding their child’s functioning and securing resources to support development and improve quality of life. Dr. Paltin also provides an executive function consultation service to improve patient/family effectiveness in completing daily life tasks by teaching techniques that increase personal success and reduce distress. This service is available through referrals from the Cancer Survivorship Program and Neurofibromatosis Program.

Future studies will continue to focus on better understanding neuropsychological effects that may emerge after proton therapy and developing intervention/protective strategies for children with brain tumors who undergo proton therapy.