Dr. Aly Karsan
Head of the Centre for Clinical Diagnostic Genomics and the Medical Director of the Cancer Genetics Lab, BC Cancer Agency

Blog Posts by Dr. Aly Karsan

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 blog posts

Research leads to better understanding and diagnosis of blood cancers

Last week I blogged about what led me to study blood cancers and how they come about. This week, I will update you on some our previous work, and the work that is currently being supported by the BC Cancer Foundation. A number of years ago, my lab became very interested in learning about a kind of blood cancer called myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS. This cancer starts out slowly, but because any disruption of the blood system affects the production of blood cells, symptoms can become obvious even when the cancer is not aggressive. The blood system produces red blood cells that help carry...

Questions of medicine and science formed half way ‘round the world

My path to a career in science and medicine was convoluted, but not without direction. I grew up in east Africa on an island in the Indian Ocean. Both my maternal grandparents died at very young ages of undiagnosed conditions. While the setting was idyllic, the reason for my grandparents’ deaths, or rather the lack of a reason bothered me. This great gap in understanding—the causes of disease or even to be able to diagnose diseases was something that continued to gnaw at me even after moving to Canada. The desire to understand how things worked led me to a genetics lab while I was at Queen’s...

The Personalized Medicine Project (PMP)

Right now, cancer treatment is predominantly a one-size-fits-all approach. Cancer patients may undergo multiple courses of treatments until the right one for them is found. As you can imagine, this can cause added stress for patients and their families, as well as the pressure of time—which not all patients can afford to lose. One of the ideas behind personalized medicine is to provide more effective treatment options for cancer patients upon diagnosis by examining changes in the patient’s tumor DNA to develop an individualized treatment plan for their particular cancer. Personalized medicine...

A closer look at acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Eventually, I wanted to enhance the bridging of my clinical and research work, and the BC Cancer Agency was—and continues to be—a great place to do that because it is both a research and care organization. I knew that my clinical expertise could inform my research in exciting and meaningful ways and vice versa. The bridge I found was through the study of myeloid cancers – with a particular focus on a type of pre-leukemia called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). “Myeloid” means having to do with white blood cells. About 30-40% of patients with MDS will transform to acute myeloid leukemia (AML),...

About me—From Queen’s to Vancouver

Hello, my name is Aly Karsan and I am the head of the Centre for Clinical Diagnostic Genomics and the Medical Director of the Cancer Genetics Lab at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and Pathology department, respectively. I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and attended Queen’s University for both my Bachelor of Arts in Life Sciences and for my medical degree. I then came out to Vancouver to do a summer studentship in a genetics lab at the University of British Columbia. This was the first time I’d come out to Vancouver, and I loved it – I made a decision that I would find my way...