Unthinkable Logo

Dr Mike Sughrue, Neurosurgeon & Neuroscientist

“What Einstein was talking about was crazy at the time, it just turns out he was correct”
Dr Mike Sughrue, Neurosurgeon & Neuroscientist
Dr Mike Sughrue, Neurosurgeon & Neuroscientist

“I ran one of the busier brain tumour programs in America – as a practising neurosurgeon and also doing brain tumour research. 

Ultimately what I realised in taking care of brain tumour patients is that we have a very big gap in information. I’m sitting across talking to someone as their neurosurgeon and I’m trying to make the best decision possible knowing about 5-6 things about them. But there’s hundreds of thousands of things – all of their genes, all of their tumour’s genes, how their brain is wired – that we don’t know. 

Everyone’s brain cancer is unique to them. We need to stop a one size fits all approach. It’s insane. We really need to harness the fact that if you look at what Facebook or Google can do with data, it’s amazing. They’re turning it loose to push ads at us. What we’re doing is taking that technology and big data and turning it loose on something that really matters – finding the answers we need to treat brain cancer. 

Brain cancer is my passion, it’s my life. I look at it and say well of course I’m extremely biased, but I would put money on me getting something done. It’s all I’ve done my adult life. 

The dream is that brain cancer is no big deal in the future. Right now, we don’t come anywhere close to that. We watch the cancer eat away at people’s souls. Those of us who have watched this disease devastate people understand that something must be done. 

We want answers as soon as possible, and we want all of the best minds around the world working to find solutions. But how do you identify those people, and make sure they get funded? 

The problem we see is that grant funding bodies have a certain amount of money to spend on research and the Government, taxpayers etc want to see results. They want to see that stuff is getting done. But there are many projects and novel ideas that aren’t ultimately going to succeed. So, if you look at it from the perspective of the funding body, who are often comprised of the most established scientists, they tend to reward things that are probably going to work out. They reward people with a track record of making it work out. They don’t want to see failure. 

Now that’s not wrong, but it creates a big disparate problem. If you look at the bell curve of innovation, they’re funding the wrong people. If you don’t occasionally take a risk and fund people with a totally out there idea, you’re not going to fund the Einstein’s of the world. What Einstein was talking about was crazy at the time, it just turns out he was correct. 

It would be a real tragedy that someone who might have the cure for brain cancer might not get funded because them and their ideas are seen as too out there. 

We can’t let that happen.” 

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on linkedin

More Stories

Dr Charlie Teo discussing brain scans with another doctor
"Brain cancer is killing more of our kids than any other disease in Australia"
“Let’s just do what we have to do and beat this thing”
“My vibrant little girl has survived 8 brain surgeries”
Dr Harry Koumoukelis, Neuro-Anaesthetist
“I have anaesthetised over 15,000 children”
Maddie withy her father Alan at the Easter show
“We want to give her the best chance of living the life she deserves”
Dr Joshua Chou, Researcher
“I wanted to bring something to brain cancer that is truly out of this world!”
Nathan in front of the London Eye
“I was standing in the supermarket being told my eldest son was likely to only have a year left to live.”
“When your child is dealt a hand that only has one outcome your world is crushed”
Gus with his father
“If they could do pain and suffering, then I can do this”
“When I was 17 I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour”
“Come on dad, take a teaspoon of cement and harden up”
milli with family
“Milli lived life to the fullest for 5 years after we were told she needed to go into palliative care”
Professor Johanna Joyce, Researcher
“High-risk, high-reward research is urgently needed”
Collage photos of Emma as a kid and now all grown up
“I am 23 years brain cancer free and so grateful to be alive”

Share this with your Friends