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Cancer Research Turns Personal

My PhD was a veritable roller coaster of scares, successes, utter failures, exciting discoveries, disappointments, and a few seemingly insurmountable problems. The stakes are high in academic research, especially in hot areas such as cancer genomics. Early in my degree, I was lucky enough to be in a position to make some timely observations into the molecular basis of common non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs). For those of you who are not familiar with the scientific process, academics must routinely endure being judged by a jury of our peers (usually two or three individuals) on the importance,...

My Path to a Career in Cancer Research (Part III)

The sequencers at the GSC were rapidly gaining improvements in read length and throughput. I spent my time working with the more interesting (and complex) types of data that could be generated, beginning with “transcriptomes” and then “exomes”. Despite knowing I wanted to do a PhD, I had not yet been convinced of a project that I would want to spend the next three to five years on and I had not yet really done any research that would be perceived as “cancer research” by most people’s standards. Luckily for me, Marco had recently been collaborating with Randy Gascoyne and Joe Connors to...

My Path to a Career in Cancer Research (Part II)

The GSC was a part of a large consortium that was producing resources and data to help better annotate the human genome. I started out with fairly blue-collar work that utilized my knowledge of molecular biology but didn’t initially require a lot of computational expertise. I eventually became involved in some work on piecing together reference genomes for some other organisms. In my undergraduate degree, I had learned virtually none of the computer science, programming and database skills that I needed for the more complex projects I became involved in. Renée Warren, a fixture at the GSC...

Dr. Ryan Morin: My Path to a Career in Cancer Research (Part I)

For my first post I have been asked to spare you the details of my research, which is a tough thing to ask of any scientist! So I will start by giving you some context on how I got here. As you will learn, I am a homegrown scientist. I was born and raised in Cumberland, a village on Vancouver Island that is too small to be officially referred to as a town. As many of us do in school, I had picked a career based on a very limited understanding of the options available and with a naive view of the world. I had decided to become a veterinarian and a BSc in Biology would be my first step in that...

Introducing March Guest Blogger Dr. Ryan Morin

Thank you to our February guest blogger Dr. Pete Tonseth for sharing the importance of PET/CT imaging. By bringing this critical technology to Vancouver Island , thousands of patients will have access to the most advanced treatment and care, closer to home. I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Ryan Morin, a scientist at BC Cancer’s Genome Science Centre, to the blog for March. Dr. Morin uses data generated from DNA sequencing to better understand cancer treatment resistance, relapse and metastasis, with a particular focus on lymphoma and pediatric cancers. The goal of Dr. Morin’s work is to uncover...

PET/CT Brings Hope for Future

To wrap up my blog, I’d like to highlight two exciting ways that the use of PET imaging is evolving: Medical isotopes are being investigated in Vancouver and at sites around the world to provide more specific options for imaging and treating cancer; and Theranostics—the integration of diagnostics and therapeutics in the individualized management of disease—holds promise for a more personalized approach to diagnosis and treatment for many types of cancer. In certain neuroendocrine tumours, we are now able to use gallium (NETRACER) to image the disease and lutetium to treat it. Similarly,...

Donors Transforming Cancer Treatment and Care

BC Cancer Foundation donors play an instrumental role in advancing cancer care in British Columbia. Their fundraising efforts ensure that the Agency is able to pursue projects that are essential for increasing knowledge and provide the very best treatment options for patients all across the province. One excellent example is the Functional Imaging cyclotron and research facility at the Vancouver Centre which supplies the PET/CT program with radiopharmaceuticals for both clinical and research studies. Without the support of donors, this world-class facility would not exist and many of the...

Interpreting PET/CT Images to Offer the Best Cancer Treatment

Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography, or PET/CT, is an imaging method that uses a sophisticated machine to generate images of patients following the injection of very small amounts of a medical isotope. As a Radiologist and Nuclear Medicine physician in the Functional Imaging Department at BC Cancer, my primary role is to interpret the PET/CT images obtained on one of the two scanners at the Vancouver Centre and then generate a report for the referring physician. In addition to looking at the images produced on the day, I review all the relevant previous imaging as well as...

Dr. Pete Tonseth: A Passion for Radiology

Hello, my name is Dr. Pete Tonseth and I’m very pleased to be sharing a bit about myself on the BC Cancer Foundation blog this month! I was born in Norway and moved often in my early years, living in Denmark, California and Washington before starting school in a small town in Norway. My family and I then moved to Ontario for a year before moving to Sidney in 1970, where we settled and I completed my elementary and secondary education. I was fortunate to have great teachers who were enthusiastic about what they taught. I think I was drawn to science since my father was a fiberglass engineer,...

Introducing February Guest Blogger Dr. Pete Tonseth

Thank you to our January guest blogger Dr. Bernie Eigl for sharing a behind-the-scenes look at clinical trials. We are fortunate to have a robust, innovative trials program here in B.C., one that our donors are very proud to support. I’m pleased to introduce our February guest blogger, Dr. Pete Tonseth, a radiologist and nuclear medicine physician at the BC Cancer Agency. By interpreting PET/CT images, Dr. Tonseth enables clinicians to provide patients with the best possible cancer treatment and care. We are working closely with donors to expand the BC Cancer Agency’s PET/CT imaging capacity...

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