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Inside the Histology Lab with Katy Milne

October 19, 2015

Hello, I’m Katy Milne and I am a Research Assistant at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC). I started working here in 2003 when the DRC was just starting up – things have really changed over the past 12 years!

Like most, I have known too many people with cancer. Because I’ve always found the human body fascinating, immunotherapy was a perfect fit for me – I think of it as our way of giving the body a hand to heal itself.

Although survival rates for many types of cancer have improved, many British Columbians today still face a grim cancer prognosis. I’m hopeful that immunotherapy will move the survival curve in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time. It’s very exciting to be a part of this progress.

Inside the Histology Lab

I run the histology lab at the DRC, which means I provide a visual representation of the various microscopic immune cells inside the tumour. A big part of this role is developing new techniques and platforms to help visualize immune cells.

By understanding at this cellular level how the immune system responds to tumours as they develop, grow and spread, we will uncover better ways to use immunotherapy to treat them – this will be a key component of immunotherapy clinical trials.

Recently, my work focused on examining tumour-infiltrating immune cells in ovarian cancer, as part of the DRC-wide Immune Response to Ovarian Cancer (IROC) project. I’ve also been collaborating with other groups to enable researchers to see the interactions between tumours and the environment, and the unique characteristics of the tumours.

In addition to my research role, I have also been responsible for training Grade 11 students to work in the DRC Histology Core. Each summer we have four students join us from Vancouver Island high schools. They are given a project and a chance to learn more about cancer research. The goal is to get even more young students interested in science, particularly cancer research, to help provide the next generation of researchers.

When not in the lab, I enjoy long distance running and coach and paddle outrigger canoe and dragon boat. My teams have been the top fundraising teams for the BC Cancer Foundation for the past several years, raising over $140,000 between them!