Course Title: CE 01: Moving Beyond the Cure: Improving Cognitive Outcomes for Childhood Cancer Survivors (Conklin & Jacola)


Credit Hours: 3


Instructor(s) Heather Conklin; Lisa Jacola


Heather Conklin, PhD Chief, Neuropsychology Section Full Faculty Member Department of Psychology St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Lisa Jacola PhD, ABPP-CN Assistant Faculty Member Department of Psychology St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
CE Workshop # 1: Moving Beyond the Cure: Improving Cognitive Outcomes for Childhood Cancer Survivors
Abstract & Learning Objectives: With improved survival rates, increasing numbers of childhood cancer survivors are living with long-term cognitive deficits that negatively impact their ability to attain important life milestones. Characterizing cognitive outcomes and identifying risk/resiliency factors informs our understanding of underlying mechanisms and drives the development of interventions that improve quality of life. This course will review the literature that has led to identification of universal and disease specific risk factors for cognitive late effects, including recent findings that help explain individual differences in outcomes amongst children undergoing similar treatment. Research aimed at elucidating neural mechanisms for core cognitive deficits will be discussed. The course will also review approaches to neurocognitive screening and assessment in childhood cancer survivors, including a discussion of how serial cognitive monitoring has informed modifications to frontline therapy. Further, empirical support for emerging interventions targeting cognitive late effects will be discussed, including ongoing issues and directions for future study. This course is designed for clinicians caring for children undergoing cancer therapy or childhood cancer survivors, and junior clinical investigators in the oncology field.Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:
  • Summarize individual and treatment-related risk factors for cognitive late effects among childhood cancer survivors
  • Describe multiple mechanisms contributing to the development of cognitive late effects
  • Discuss changes in cancer-directed therapy that have contributed to improved cognitive outcomes
  • Explain benefits and limitations of different interventions targeting cognitive late effects
  • Discuss modern approaches to neurocognitive assessment, including emerging clinical guidelines and novel screening
Speaker Biography: Dr. Heather Conklin is a Full Faculty Member in the Department of Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she is Chief of the Section of Neuropsychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Duke University before earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota. Subsequently, she completed internship and postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Dr. Conklin’s research program is focused on improving cognitive outcomes following treatment for childhood cancer. Primary research aims include using cognitive outcomes to inform modifications in cancer-directed treatment, improving specification of cognitive deficits following treatment, and developing empirically valid interventions that mitigate cognitive late effects. She has over 80 peer-reviewed publications and has received extramural funding from the International Neuropsychological Society, American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute for this line of investigation. Dr. Lisa Jacola is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and an Assistant Faculty Member in the Department of Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH). She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Dayton, a master’s degree in experimental psychology at Wright State University, and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Jacola completed an internship in Clinical Child Psychology and Pediatric Neuropsychology at the University of Chicago/University of Chicago Medicine and a fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at SJCRH. The overarching goal of her clinical research program is to improve neurobehavioral and quality of life outcomes in children treated for catastrophic diseases. The majority of these studies are in survivors of childhood leukemia. Projects aim to characterize neurobehavioral outcomes and underlying bio-behavioral mechanisms, identify risk and resiliency factors for neurocognitive outcomes, and develop and implement interventions. Dr. Jacola has received extramural funding from the Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Andrew McDonough Be Positive Foundation for this research.