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My Unexpected Journey to the BC Cancer Agency

It’s been awhile since I reflected on my career path and how I came to be the provincial lead for therapeutic oncology services at the BC Cancer Agency. My current role provides leadership to the registered dietitians and speech language pathologists working at the Agency. This year, we hope to add exercise specialists and physiotherapists to this group. Besides leadership, my role also supports practice in the areas of clinical care, education, community partnerships and research. So where did I begin my professional journey and what are the many roads that I travelled to land here? (I’m...

Introducing May guest bloggers Drs. Ryna Levy Milne and Kristin Campbell

I’d like to thank our April guest blogger, Dr. Anna Tinker, for sharing her work on the immunotherapy trials planned for ovarian and cervical cancers this year at the BC Cancer Agency. It is, as she says, an exciting time for cancer research and care here in British Columbia. We are thrilled to be supporting this innovative work, which is providing new hope for patients today. I’m pleased to introduce our guest bloggers for the month of May - Drs. Ryna Levy Milne and Kristin Campbell. Dr. Levy Milne is the provincial director of therapeutic oncology services at the BC Cancer Agency, and Dr...

Dr. Tinker: 'Researchers need support to keep moving forward'

In some ways it is unimaginable what remains to be discovered in the field of oncology; however, with the amazing pace of research some recent important advances are pointing the way to the future. An example of this is cancer genomics, the field of studying the genes and mutations of a cancer, has opened our eyes to the complexity of cancers. This complexity is not only evident between individuals, but even within an individual. In other words, it seems easy to understand that two different patients with the same cancer type (for example, two women with colon cancer) may have tumours that...

Clinical trials to kick off for promising new treatment

Being an oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency has been a very fulfilling job, one I feel honoured to have. My days are varied and interesting and there have never been two days that were the same yet. Often, the schedule that is entered into my calendar means nothing, as surprises are the norm. A seemingly quiet day can turn exciting fairly quickly when someone needs to be assessed and treated urgently. As a clinician, I spend most of my time with patients. As a specialist in chemotherapy, I typically meet with my patients every 3-4 weeks while they are going through treatment. I typically see...

Dr. Tinker: 'This is an exciting time for oncology'

For those who do not know me, I’m Dr. Anna Tinker, a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. My area of clinical focus is the treatment of gynecologic cancers. My research focus includes an interest in the development of cancer clinical trials. However, I also enjoy translational research, whereby discoveries and technologies from the laboratory are subsequently applied to improving the clinical care of patients. This is facilitated by my work with British Columbia’s gynecologic research group, called OVCARE. It is my pleasure to be blogging again for the BC Cancer Foundation...

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...

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