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Introducing April guest blogger Dr. Anna Tinker

I’d like to thank our March guest blogger, Dr. Ryan Morin, for sharing his work uncovering the mutations that drive lymphoid cancer. Thanks to his research, we are gaining knowledge of how cancer develops and ultimately, how it can be treated. I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Anna Tinker, medical oncologist and senior project leader of immunotherapy clinical trials at the BC Cancer Agency, to the blog for April. As a funding recipient of the 2015 Inspiration Gala , Dr. Tinker returns to our blog to update the BC Cancer community on the impact philanthropy is having on the groundbreaking...

ctDNA and the Future of Lymphoid Cancer Research

In part, my research since joining the SFU faculty has been a logical extension of my PhD thesis. I continue to collaborate with many scientists and clinicians at BC Cancer to study the genetic features of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs), with emphasis on research questions that will make a difference for patients. One of the cancers I focus on is diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a common and aggressive form of NHL that is cured in many cases. It became clear during my early work that this cancer was very complex and each patient has a unique combination of mutations we refer to as “...

Driven to Make a Difference in Cancer Research

I felt like I had been put in the position of Schrodinger’s cat : I was either in perfect health and had nothing to worry about, or I was about to undergo a series of treatments and face an uncertain future. I had never felt like I had less control in my adult life than I did during the time waiting for an answer. Thankfully, after a minor (albeit painful) surgery, it turned out to be a benign mass and after several months of uncertainty and undue stress, I was cleared. This first-hand experience left me even more driven than before to pursue my research goals - namely, finding better, faster...

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...

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