Dr. Brian Nieman

Investigator II

As success with treating pediatric brain cancers has grown, it has also become clear that there are frequently debilitating side effects to the radiation and chemotherapy treatments that are necessary for survival. These side effects often include cognitive and behavioural impairments that affect children’s performance in school and long-term quality of life. However, the mechanism by which these side effects develop remains unclear. Dr. Brian Nieman’s lab is pursuing a combination of clinical studies and mouse research to characterize the developmental consequences of childhood cancer treatment and sensitizing/mitigating factors.

Radiation therapy is an important part of treatment for brain tumours and high-risk leukemias. Nieman’s group is investigating how radiation alters brain development. They are determining how apoptosis, neurogenesis and inflammation contribute to the alterations and testing interventions to promote improved outcomes. Chemotherapy treatment is used to treat the majority of leukemias. While it is less toxic to the brain than radiotherapy, developmental impairments are still observed. It is critically important to determine which of the dozen or so chemotherapy agents used are most responsible.

Nieman’s group is systematically studying the developmental impact of each chemotherapy agent. Long-term goals are to promote improved brain development and quality of life in childhood cancer patients.

Current affiliations

  • Investigator II, OICR;
  • Scientist, Physiology and Experimental Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids);
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto.

Research interests

  • Childhood cancer treatment;
  • Radiotherapy;
  • Chemotherapy;
  • “Late effects”;
  • Combined human studies and mouse models;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging;
  • 3D imaging;
  • Phenotyping in mouse disease models.

Select publications

Nieman BJ, de Guzman AE, Gazdzinski LM, Lerch JP, Chakravarty MM, Pipitone J, Strother D, Fryer C, Bouffet E, Laughlin S, Laperriere N, Riggs L, Skocic J, Mabbott DJ.
White and Gray Matter Abnormalities After Cranial Radiation in Children and Mice
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2015 Nov 15;93(4):882-91.

de Guzman AE, Gazdzinski LM, Alsop RJ, Stewart JM, Jaffray DA, Wong CS, Nieman BJ.
Treatment age, dose and sex determine neuroanatomical outcome in irradiated juvenile mice.
Radiat Res. 2015 May;183(5):541-9.

Gazdzinski LM, Nieman BJ.
Cellular imaging and texture analysis distinguish differences in cellular dynamics in mouse brain tumors.
Magn Reson Med. 2014 Apr;71(4):1531-41.

Gazdzinski LM, Cormier K, Lu FG, Lerch JP, Wong CS, Nieman BJ.
Radiation-induced alterations in mouse brain development characterized by magnetic resonance imaging.
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Dec 1;84(5):e631-8.

Nieman BJ, Shyu JY, Rodriguez JJ, Garcia AD, Joyner AL, Turnbull DH.
In vivo MRI of neural cell migration dynamics in the mouse brain.
NeuroImage. 2010; In press (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.107)

Nieman BJ, Shyu JY, Rodriguez JJ, Garcia AD, Joyner AL, Turnbull DH.
In vivo MRI of neural cell migration dynamics in the mouse brain.
Neuroimage. 2010 Apr 1;50(2):456-64.


  • Mouse magnetic resonance imaging.

Previous experience and education

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine;
  • PhD, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto.

Opportunities to collaborate

Dr. Nieman’s group provides collaborative opportunities involving 3D imaging with magnetic resonance imaging, x-ray computed tomography, ultrasound and 3D optical imaging.

Related links

Mouse Imaging Centre (MICe)

SickKids – Dr. Brian Neiman

Contact information