Dr. Denise D. Correa, Attending/Member, Department of Neurology

Project Overview

The Brockman Foundation has provided funding for a study to asses neurocognitive and neuroimaging outcomes in patients with hematological malignancies treated with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). This research will be the first study to investigate if patients who develop graft versus host disease (GvHD) after allo-HSCT may be at greater risk for neurotoxicity, and to assess the association of the outcomes with GvHD biomarkers.

The research is being led by Dr. Denise D. Correa, a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with primary research interest in the study of cognitive dysfunction associated with cancer and its treatment.

In the proposed study, patients enrolled in an approved IRB protocol evaluating biomarkers for the prognostication of GvHD after allo-HSCT will undergo a neurocognitive evaluation and a brain MRI approximately six months after the allo-HSCT. This is the first study to assess if patients who develop GvHD after allo-HSCT may be at greater risk for cognitive dysfunction and for alterations in brain structure and functional connectivity, compared to patients without GvHD.

Dr. Correa and her team also plan to explore the association of biomarkers for GvHD with the neurocognitive and neuroimaging outcomes. The proposed work is unprecedented and will provide the first rigorous data about the contribution of GvHD to neurotoxicity in patients treated with allo-HSCT. The goal is to improve treatment decision-making and provide information for the development of targeted therapies to prevent or reduce treatment-related cognitive dysfunction.

Dr. Correa has worked as a Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on several studies assessing the cognitive adverse effects of treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These studies have encompassed neurocognitive function, structural and functional neuroimaging across various adult cancer populations, including patients with brain tumors, hematological malignancies, and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Correa has recently expanded her research to also investigate genetic risk factors for cognitive dysfunction in patients with brain tumors. She works as chair and co-chair for neurocognitive correlative studies within cooperative clinical trials for patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. She also has experience in the clinical neuropsychological assessment of patients with brain tumors, hematological malignancies treated with stem cell transplantation, and other types of cancer.

Project Highlights

  • Overview: Neurocognitive and neuroimaging outcomes