Translational Breast Cancer Research Trainee Studentships, 2009 - 2010

Mistre Alemayehu

 

Mistre Alemayehu is a PhD student in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Moshmi Bhattacharya. Her study follows up on their previous findings that β-arrestins stimulate breast cancer cell migration and invasion. In this project, she will investigate if β-arrestins regulate the metastasis of breast cancer cells in vivo using an experimental animal metastasis model.

 

 

 

Choi-Fong Cho

Choi-Fong Cho is an MSc student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. John Lewis. Her project involves studying how non-invasive imaging using nanotechnology should permit detection of early breast cancer before metastasis can occur. Her aim is to construct "smart nanoparticles" that home to the new blood vessels that form around early tumours. She hopes to use these as imaging agents both to diagnose early cancer and to enhance treatment.

 

 

 

Niamh Coughlan

Niamh Coughlan is a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Torchia. She is studying the p/CIP/CARM1 coactivator complex in estrogen-dependent gene regulation in an attempt to clarify the role of the oncogene p/CIP in estrogen-dependent breast cancers. By identifying key target genes of the complex, and understanding the mechanism that regulates them, the hope is to develop new therapeutic strategies, leading to more effective treatment for p/CIP-overexpressing breast cancers.

 

 

Ken Esguerra

 

Kenneth Esguerra  is an MSc student working under the supervision of Drs. Leonard Luyt and Eva Turley in the Departments of Oncology and Chemistry. His project intends to develop dual-modality imaging probes to allow evaluation of biomarkers in breast cancer tumour cells. These imaging probes could potentially be used for both cancer detection and diagnosis. In time, this could enable identification of patients who are at risk for malignant disease.

 

 

 

Sarah Francis

 

Sarah Francis is a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Fred Dick. Disruption of the retinoblastoma (pRB) and TGF-beta pathways occur in a large number of breast tumours, indicating that they are crucial in preventing breast cancer. She uses a strain of mouse where TGF-beta no longer blocks cell division because of a defect in pRB to determine how loss of the TGF-beta/pRB pathway promotes breast cancer and what other genes are involved in blocking this process in healthy breast cells.

 

 

Girish Gannareddy

 

Girish Gannareddy, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow working under the supervision of Dr. P.K. Lala in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, U.W.O. He is conducting research to understand the molecular pathways that allow breast cancer cells to stimulate the sprouting of lymphatic vessels in the vicinity of cancer, which allows cancer cells to spread to lymph nodes. This knowledge will identify therapeutic targets to stop lymphatic metastasis of breast cancer at an early stage.

 

 

 

 

Michael Lizardo

Michael Lizardo is a PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, working under the supervision of Drs. Ann Chambers and Ian MacDonald. Michael is developing multi-platform approaches in studying animal models of lymph node metastasis in breast cancer. These include flow intravital fluorescence videomicroscopy, flow cytometry and laser scanning cytometry. These techniques will then be used to ask questions about the underlying biology that contributes to a cancer cell's ability to spread to the lymph nodes and how single disseminated tumor cells form clinically relevant metastases.

 

 

 

Irene Ma

 

Irene Ma is an MSc student in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Alison Allan. She is investigating the functional role of two proteins called aldehyde dehydrogenase and CD44, which are markers of highly aggressive breast cancers, by over-expressing these two proteins in breast cancer cells that are normally known to not metastasize. The goal is to determine whether or not the newly engineered breast cancer cells will have the same behaviour as the highly aggressive breast cancer cells, which could ultimately lead to the discovery of new therapeutic targets for drug development in the future.

 

 

 

Maclean Photo

Jenn MacLean is a PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, working under the supervision of Drs. Ann Chambers and Ian MacDonald.  Jenn’s research expands on a phenomenon known as ‘concomitant tumor resistance’ where a primary tumor is capable of restricting the development of secondary metastases.  Specifically, she will investigate the effect of a growing breast primary tumor on the growth of secondary metastases and determine the effect of individual metastasis promoting and suppressing proteins on the establishment of breast cancer metastases.

 

 

 

McGowan Photo

 

Patricia McGowan, PhD, is a Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario and the London Regional Cancer Program, working under the supervision of Dr. Ann Chambers.  Her research is focusing on a specific protein, Notch, in the development of brain metastases from breast cancer. Notch appears to have multifaceted roles in tumor maintenance and progression and she hopes to investigate these roles over the course of her work.

 

 

 

Medeiros photo

 

Phil Medeiros is a PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, working under the supervision of Dr. Dwayne Jackson.  Phil is studying the role of the sympathetic nervous system on the progression of breast cancer. Specifically, using novel in vivo and in vitro models he aims to elucidate the deleterious effects of sympathetic neurotransmitters such as Neuropeptide Y in breast cancer.

 

 

 

Jen Mutrie

 

Jen Mutrie is an MSc student in the Department of Pathology, University of Western Ontario, working under the supervision of Drs. Ann Chambers and Alan Tuck.  Jen is investigating the effects of blocking molecular pathways mediated by osteopontin (OPN), a protein that contributes to aggressive cancer cell behaviour and tumor progression.  She is interested in how OPN signaling works and which inhibitors will be most effective.  This will help increase our understanding of how OPN contributes to cancer spread and may lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for aggressive breast cancers that express OPN.

 

 

 

Nicole Park

 

Nicole Park is an MSc student in the Department of Pathology, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Joan Knoll. Her project aims to quantify gene copy number changes in ERBB2 (often referred to as Her2/neu) in invasive breast cancer cells using novel genomic technology. Accurate quantification of ERBB2 copy numbers will likely be useful in accurate diagnosis and eventually for calibrating therapeutic dose of Herceptin.

 

 

 

 

Jenna Pilon

Jenna Pilon is an MSc student in the Department of Biochemistry, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. David Rodenhiser. Jenna is studying the role of ZEB2 in breast cancer metastasis. ZEB2 is a gene capable of turning on or off other genes, and is important in normal development. When ZEB2 is abnormally present, it can cause changes to the cell, increasing its ability to grow and invade. Jenna is studying whether ZEB2 plays an important role in breast cancer spread, and whether an epigenetic ‘extra layer’ of control of this gene is important in determining where ZEB2 is present.

 

 

Emeline Ribot

Emeline Ribot is a Postdoctoral Fellow working under the supervision of Dr. Paula Foster in the Imaging Research Laboratories at Robarts Research Institute. The goal of her work is to visualize cancer stem cells by MRI in vivo to determine their fate in the body and their role in brain metastasis formation after a primary breast cancer.

 

 

 

 

Michael Roumeliotis

Michael Roumeliotis is a PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, U.W.O. working under the supervision of Dr. Jeffrey Carson. Their 3D photoacoustic imaging system will be implemented to identify tumours as small as 1mm in diameter. As well, the system being developed will be able to define physiological information, such as blood and oxygen content, which is of paramount importance in characterizing the tumour as benign or malignant.

 

 

 

Leslie Souter

 

Lesley Souter is a PhD student in the Department of Pathology, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Drs. Ann Chambers and Alan Tuck. Lesley is using a 3D tissue culture system to identify genes and molecules potentially involved in the initial development and progression of invasive disease in the breast.

 

 

 

 

Fartash Vasefi

Fartash Vasefi, PhD, is a Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medical Biophysics, U.W.O. and the Lawson Health Research Institute, working under the supervision of Dr. Jeffery J. L. Carson. His research is focusing on the development and evaluation of a novel spectroscopic imaging technology to assist in characterization and high resolution margin delineation of cancerous tissue during surgery. Fartash hopes the new technology will enable physicians to differentiate between normal and malignant tissue based on their specific optical abnormalities.

 

 

 

Yufeng Zuo

Yufeng Zuo is a PhD student in the department of Pathology, U.W.O., working under the supervision of Dr. Chandan Chakraborty. His study is focused on Rac1, a member of proteins Rho GTPases, in tumor migration and metastasis. He has study found that inhibition of Rac1 can decrease breast cancer cell growth, migration and invasion, indicating that pharmacological inhibitor of Rac1 could be a promising drug for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer progression.

 

 

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