Prof David Walker

BMedSc, MBBS, PhD, FRACS

 

 

Prof David Walker is a neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon at BrizBrain & Spine. He has a special clinical interest in brain tumours and is actively involved in conducting research to help find a cure for this disease.

The proud father of two, Prof. Walker’s daughter is a Brisbane based lawyer and his son is an up and coming talent in the music industry. You may recognise him from the television series “The Voice”.  Prof Walker is a very family orientated man, a father who lights up when he speaks about his children and their current endeavors.

In his spare time, Prof Walker enjoys getting outdoors and playing a round of golf, he recently traveled with friends to check out the well renowned golf courses of Scotland. Prof. Walker prides himself on being an active member of the community,  this year he embarked on a new community service and personal challenge by enlisting as an Officer in the Royal Australian Army Reserves.

Throughout Prof. Walker’s career, he has based his practice around a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. This approach ensures that patients receive holistic advice on treatment required. For patients with primary malignant brain tumours (glioma, low grade glioma, glioblastoma, GBM, oligodendroglioma) the maintenance of Quality of Life is paramount. Health-related quality of life is widely recognized in medicine but its assessment and maintenance in patients with brain tumours has not kept up with other more common cancers. This situation does not correlate with the problem – most if not all patients with malignant brain tumours (glioma, GBM, glioblastoma) suffer psychological distress, and many will experience clinically significant depression and / or anxiety.

Due to this, Prof Walker, decided to advocate a new role that would support and guide patients throughout their treatment journey. Through his research and understanding of the support required, Prof Walker developed the role of Neuro-oncology Nurse Practitioner.

Neuro-oncology Nurse Practitioner, Vivien Biggs, now titled, Neurosurgical Nurse Practitioner, works in collaboration with Neurosurgeons and other medical specialists, adding nursing expertise to our approach to coordinated care.

Prof Walker completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Queensland. He then studied for a doctorate PhD at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research on the Molecular Genetics of Astrocytomas (brain tumours) before undertaking advanced neurosurgical training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Featured below is one of Prof. Walker’s patient stories in an edition of ‘A Current Affair’. This unique operation to remove a brain tumour was completed while the patient was awake! Click below to view this incredible procedure.

Prof Walker was a Neuro-Oncology Fellow at the prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA and was also appointed a position at Harvard University during this time. In the United States he underwent advanced neurosurgical training in the management of brain and pituitary tumours.

RESEARCH

Professor David Walker was honored to receive The WMR Researcher of the Year award at Government House in May 2018. The award was presented by the Chief Patron of Wesley Medical Research and the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. Professor Walker, received the award for initiating and leading sustained research to understand and treat aggressive forms of brain cancer.

Prof Walker remains active in research, both at the clinical and basic science level through his links with the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and the Newro Foundation. Prof Walker is the Managing Director of the Newro Foundation, a research organisation that conducts research into brain and spine conditions.

For more information on the research initiatives Prof. Walker is conducting, visit the Newro Foundation.

  • All
  • Brain & Neurosurgery
  • Brain Tumours
  • Brain tumours
  • Spine Surgery

Giant Olfactory Groove Meningioma

This 74 year old lady presented with progressive depression. She had been treated medically for months but her symptoms did not improve. She then developed headaches and cognitive deficits such as poor short term memory became increasingly obvious. An MRI scan of the brain was eventually done, revealing a very large lesion of the anterior cranial fossa. Fig 1. Preoperative MRI T1+GAD. A. Axial, B. Sagittal, C. Coronal Surgery proceeded […]

Haemangioblastoma

This 43 male presented with progressive headaches and neck pain over many months. He also described some visual obscuration over that time. He had a CT scan without contrast and was referred for assessment. An MRI scan was performed, showing a large, highly vascular left sided posterior fossa tumour, with obstructive hydrocephalus (figs 1 and 2). Urgent treatment of the hydrocephalus was needed so he proceeded to an endoscopic 3rd […]

The Role of Surgery for Malignant Glioma – Is it all good?

Surgery has an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with most brain tumours, including glioma patients with a suspected brain tumour are usually referred straight to a neurosurgeon for that reason. Traditionally, brain tumour surgery has been a core activity and skill for neurosurgeons, but better outcomes for almost all patients with brain tumours (especially gliomas/GBM/malignant glioma) are achieved when the patient is managed by a neurosurgeon […]

Why doesn’t the immune system work against Brain Cancer?

That is a VERY good question. Why would the body allow tumour cells to grow and destroy the normal brain? Isn’t the immune system supposed to rid us of foreign and destructive material? The immune system certainly is supposed to do this. It a highly evolved and finely tuned system that in general works extremely well. There are checks and balances built into this system which can go wrong – […]

CMV and brain tumours

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus in our community. Most adults will show serological evidence of of previous exposure. CMV can cause severe disease, but generally this is only in newborns or in immunosuppressed patients, such as those people having had a transplant. In the last few years, it has become clear that CMV can be identified in brain tumour tissue – both in primary gliomas (glioblastoma, astrocytoma, GBM) and […]

Tumour Treating Fields – A new treatment for Glioblastoma

Malignant gliomas (glioblastoma, GBM) are difficult to treat. Our current methods of treatment –  surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy – all help but are ultimately not curative. New treatments are desperately needed. In recent years, a new form of treatment has been developed which may have a role in the future – Tumour Treating Fields (TTFields). TTFields are low intensity, intermediate frequency electric fields that slow cell division therefore inhibit tumour […]

Dexamethasone – the potential downside

Brain tumours often cause swelling in the brain and this swelling makes the pressure effect of the brain tumour worse. Symptoms therefore can be exacerbated – headaches may be worse, or patients can be drowsy or the neurological deficits such as arm and leg weakness are exaggerated. For many years, corticosteroids (typically dexamethasone) have been used to reduce the swelling around brain tumours. Starting dexamethasone can be very effective in controlling […]

Spinal Case – Keyhole lumbar laminectomy

Patients with spinal stenosis usually present with symptoms of neurogenic cluadication, with bilateral leg pain with walking and standing. A CT or MRI will often make the diagnosis. Surgery is the appropriate treatment and the traditional operation is a decompressive lumbar laminectomy at the affected levels. The commonest level to be affected is at L4/5, and a normal surgical approach would usually require a midline incision of 10-15 centimetres. Patients would […]

Tumour of the brainstem

Ms Ip was a 66 year old lady in good health. She had an MRI brain scan for investigation of dizziness in 2012 and an enhancing lesion on the dorsal aspect of the medulla was observed. It was consistent with a haemangioblastoma, and thought to be incidental to the mild clinical symptoms. Observation was recommended (see figures 1 and 2). She remained stable but a repeat MRI scan in mid-2015 […]

Meningiomas – Not always benign and/or curable

Recently we treated 3 adult male patients on the same day, all with meningiomas. Together they illustrate the fact that meningiomas are not always benign and slow growing, and when they occur in difficult positions it can make surgical treatment complex and risky. The first patient (65 year old male) originally presented 5 years previously with left sided weakness. At that time a right parafalcine frontoparietal meningioma was diagnosed and resected. […]

Robinson, G., Biggs, V. & Walker, D. (2012). Cognitive assessment in Brain Tumour. Asia-pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 8(Suppl. 2), 65-66.

Baird, A., Walker, D.G., Biggs, V., & Robinson, G. (2014). Selective preservation of the beat in apperceptive amusia: a case study. Cortex, 53, 27-33.

Robinson, G., Cipolotti, L., Walker, D.G., Biggs, V., Bozzali, M., & Shallice, T. Verbal suppression and strategy use: A role for the right lateral prefrontal cortex? (submitted to Brain).

Robinson, G. Walker, D.G., Biggs, V. Cognitive Screening in Brain Tumours: Short but sensitive enough? (abstract accepted for special issue of Frontiers in Oncology, Neuro-Oncology Research Topic: Psychosocial advances in Neuro-Oncology).

Robinson, G. Walker, D.G., Biggs, V. & Shallice, T. Does use of a strategy overcome a suppression failure? Evidence from two left frontal brain tumour cases. (in preparation for Cortex).

Robinson, G. Walker, D.G., Biggs, V. Dissociations in apathy following a large left frontal meningioma: A longitudinal study. (in preparation for Neuropsychologia).

Robinson, G. Walker, D.G., Biggs, V. (2012). Cognitive assessment following brain tumour resection. Platform paper presented at the Cooperative Group for Neuro-Oncology Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, Australia. ***Won prize for Best Abstract***

Robinson, G., Walker, D.G., Cipolotti, L., Biggs, V., Bozzali, M., & Shallice, T. (2014). Prefrontal contributions to initiation, suppression and strategy: A neuropsychological study of focal frontal patients. Poster presented at the 12th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience, Brisbane, Australia.

Robinson, G. Walker, D.G., Biggs, V. Cognitive Screening in Brain Tumours: Short but sensitive enough? Oral presentation accepted for the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders Biennial Meeting in Hong Kong (November, 2014).

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