Episode 4: Cerebral Palsy Health. Iona Novak, PhD and Madison Paton, PhD: What's the Deal with Stem Cells Anyway?

About this Episode

On this episode I talk with two of the world’s leading researchers… Dr. Madison Paton and Dr. Iona Novak on stem cell treatment for cerebral palsy. Stem Cells have been a hot topic in Cerebral Palsy for at least 15 years now, with many parents and researchers hoping that at the least, stem cells will lessen the impact of CP and at most hold the key to a cure. Dr. Paton and Dr. Novak will share their insider knowledge into this subject and help us sort through the hype and so we can hold onto our hope.

We discuss the various types of stem cells and how they might benefit those with CP.  We also discuss current research, Jen's experience with her son's stem cell trial, how to learn about other stem cell trials and where to find resources.  We also talk about stem cell tourism and issues to be aware of with these operations. 

Professor Iona Novak is the Head of Research for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, located at the Brain Mind Centre, in the University of Sydney (in Australia). Iona is a Fulbright Scholar, and has won the Western Sydney University Chancellor's Award for Alumni of the Year and The University of Sydney Award for Professional Achievement. She co-founded the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute for the purpose of: prevention, cure and treatment of cerebral palsy. Driven by an internal belief that healthcare truly has the potential to change lives, Iona has pursued projects and roles that will have the greatest possible impact on children and families in today’s and tomorrow’s world. She is passionate about evidence-based practice; knowledge translation, neuroplasticity; stem cells and neuroregenerative clinical trials. Iona leads a collaborative research team that is currently conducting the world’s largest ever, cerebral palsy early intervention trial, exploring whether harnessing neuroplasticity can reduce the severity of disability.

Dr Madison Paton is a Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute. She received her PhD in 2018 investigating stem cell therapies to protect the developing brain. She has been working in the field of cell therapies and cerebral palsy for more than 7 years and has transitioned from working in the lab, to helping develop clinical trials that drive the research pipeline. Madison’s early work focussed on stem cells collected from the placenta and how we can best protect from brain injury occurring during pregnancy or around the time of birth. She now is interested in applying these therapies to treat babies and children with a risk of brain injury or cerebral palsy. Dr Paton is passionate about science communication, engaging with consumers, and sharing the best available evidence on stem cells.


Madison and I are working hard in this space about whether a cure is even possible. There isn't one right now we, have no promises and no treatments to offer. However, there are a number of things that look worth pursuing with more research and stem cells is certainly one of those.

Iona Novak