Four Queen's researchers receive funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is providing over $1 million in funding to four Queen's University researchers who are investigating different aspects of breast cancer including testing, metastasis and the immune system.
Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has received $450,000 over three years. Dr. Greer's research explores interactions between cancer cells and the immune system. He is working to coax the immune system back into action and stimulate cancer immunity against invading cancer cells using oncolytic viruses.
Each day at the Queen's Cancer Research Institute there is amazing work being done in support of the battle against cancer.
Yet, it seems, few people realize that one of the most remarkable cancer research institutes in the world is hosted right here at Queen's and Kingston.
Changing that is one of the mandates for David Berman, who was appointed as the executive director of the Queen's Cancer Research Institute (QCRI) at the beginning of this year.
"We're not the place that people first think of when they think of cancer research in Canada but maybe we can get to that point," he says.
Looking to increase the QCRI's profile locally an open house event was held recently where members of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and donors were given a behind-the-scenes look at where the research is being done - from population studies of cancer etiology, through tumor biology and clinical trials, to outcomes and health services research.
Attendees heard about research that is being funded by the CCS from the researchers themselves, including Chris Booth, Andrew Craig, Chris O'Callaghan, Chris Mueller, Lois Mulligan, who organized the event, and Eileen Eisenhauer, head of the Department of Oncology, and PhD candidate Mat Crupi.
The presentations, which covered a wide array of projects and forms of research, were eye-opening and inspiring and provided insight into why QCRI is such an important piece to the cancer battle.
"We have world-class people doing cutting-edge research," says Dr. Berman. "We have a structure that is really unusual where we integrate the different sides of cancer research particularly well in the same building and we have a really strong track record in combining clinical care with basic and clinical research."
The QCRI utilizes a collaborative approach, Dr. Berman explains, which helps ensure that the work being done actually benefits patients.
"There's a strong history here and tremendous abilities to make a difference in cancer research both through new treatments and paradigms like immune checkpoint inhibitors - taking the brakes off the immune system. We're exploring new possibilities with large genomic studies and big data analysis tools where we're collaborating with people in computing and other departments to make sense of these huge amounts of information that we're getting on cancer," Dr. Berman explains.
The QCRI has built an impressive reputation with breakthrough studies and a leading clinical trials group. With that foundation, the institute has been able to attract top graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who work alongside the researchers.
PhD candidate Tomas Baldasarre arrived at QCRI after he realized he was more interested in research, which eventually brought him to the lab of Dr. Craig. He says the complexity of cancer research is what drew him into the area of study.
"It really is a complex field and the more you learn about it the more you realize the cure is still quite far away because it's such a complex set of problems that lead to the pathology. But to me that makes it interesting," he says. "It's a mystery, and a challenging one at that, but I like mysteries and challenges."
Tiny molecules, big data
Posted 2015 June 29
Molecules hold promise for detecting, treating cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Neil Renwick spent his early years working as a medical officer in the Australian outback, Thailand and Papua New Guinea. Today, those formative clinical experiences with rare and unusual diseases are guiding his explorations into the genetic mechanisms of disease, and putting him at the forefront of a rapidly emerging molecular frontier.
A certified pathologist and clinician scientist in the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute, Dr. Renwick studies select cancer and neurodegenerative diseases in which ribonucleic acid (RNA) control is disturbed.
Neil Renwick is working on new ways to treat cancer. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
Among many functions, RNA is the intermediate molecule between DNA and protein. "It has a lot of information that makes a gene into a protein, so it is a good diagnostic and therapeutic target," he explains.
Long viewed by researchers as "information carriers," RNA regained the spotlight in the early 2000s, following a series of discoveries showing that another class of RNA, named microRNA, plays a key role in controlling messenger RNAs and their protein products.
Dr. Renwick's own interest in RNA was sparked at The Rockefeller University when he worked with Prof. Tom Tuschl, who discovered many microRNAs and developed silencing RNA technology. "He figured out how to switch off any gene," he says. "It works brilliantly in cell lines, now we're trying to figure out ways to use it to cure disease."
Dr. Renwick's research involves examining at microRNAs in tissue samples from neuroendocrine tumors. A second project is looking at mutations in genes that encode RNA-binding proteins and result in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Two different diseases, but they are linked through defective RNA control.
Identifying and studying how RNAs cause or mediate disease is not as straightforward as it sounds. "The work is technically challenging," Dr. Renwick says. "It's hard to work with RNA molecules because they break down easily. You have to know how to handle them."
His Laboratory of Translational RNA Biology is one of a small cohort of labs in Canada that specialize in this field - but his lab is the only one using state-of-the-art tests, or assays, for detecting RNAs that he developed while training with Prof. Tuschl. "We have the most accurate techniques for doing this," he says.
A key to his work is the capability to capture and analyse the huge volumes of data produced by RNA profiling. "There will be a big computational component to this work," he says. "We are lucky; we have pipelines to analyse the data."
A recruit to Queen's and KGH through the Southeastern Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO), Dr. Renwick says his new job fulfils a long-time ambition to have his own lab. "I was looking all over the planet for an opportunity. The SEAMO Clinician Scientist program is the way everyone should be going. It's an innovative program."
The Queen's-KGH environment is another positive. "It's a good opportunity for me to be around other pathologists with extensive experience. And the hospital environment is important because it enables you to see how your work impacts real life. I think Queen's and KGH are going to be very competitive going forward because they have the experience, and the patient base, and the basic science. All the components are here."
2015 CIHR National Student Research Poster Competition Golden Award Winner
Posted 2015 June 09
Yulei Zhao, a PhD student in Dr. Xiaolong Yang's Lab in the Department of Pathology and Molecular medicine, won the Golden Award of the 2015 CIHR National Student Research Poster Competition, during the 28th Annual CSHRF (Canadian Student Health Research Forum) held from June 2nd-4th in Winnipeg.
Yulei, together with another 13 students were nominated as top 5% graduate students in health sciences by Queen's University to participate this year's national CIHR Research poster competition, which included around 120 top 5% graduate students nominated by different universities all around Canada.
The awards of the competition include CIHR Golden Award (award of excellence), Silver Award and Honourable Mentions. Ten students were chosen for CIHR Golden Award through the competition. Yulei, was the only student from Queen's University that won the Golden Award ($500, provided by CIHR) in this year's competition.
Queen's University also had two students, both from the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, who won the Silver Awards.
Queen's School of Graduate Studies' Dissertation Boot Camp
Posted 2015 May 25
Kathrin Tyryshkin got the support she needed to finish writing her dissertation at the Queen's School of Graduate Studies' Dissertation Boot Camp. The next Boot Camp is scheduled for June 8-12. (University Communications)
Before even defending her PhD in Computer Science, Kathrin Tyryshkin had two job offers - one in industry, and one at a Queen's department (the one she ultimately took).
Dr. Tyryshkin surely chose a timely field and stayed the course with diligence in publishing, conferencing and teaching, but she credits at least part of her success to Queen's School of Graduate Studies' Dissertation Boot Camp.
The primary aim of the five-day Dissertation Boot Camp is for participants to write and make substantial headway on their thesis. The majority of the time is spent writing, with breaks for snacks, lunch, and structured group discussions about topics relevant to thesis writers.
Professor John Bartlett - 8th Nathan Kaufman Visiting Lecturer
Posted 2015 April 27
Thursday 2015 May 21 at 4:00pm
Richardson Lab Amphitheatre (Room 104), 88 Stuart St Kingston Ontario
Professor John Bartlett, BSc, PhD FRCPath
Director, Transformative Pathology, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR),
Honorary Professor, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, The University of
Edinburgh, Scotlan, UK
"If breast cancers are rare diseases - how will we treat them?"
On August 4, 1980, a 22-year-old Terry Fox ran through Sudbury, Ontario as onlookers cheered him on from the sidewalks. Dr. Michael Rauh, one of OICR's newest investigators, was fortunate enough to be there. Little did he know at the time that this inspiring moment would lead him to a career in the sciences, or that one day he would even end up working in labs built with funds originating from Terry's Marathon of Hope.
Rauh has now been working as a clinician-scientist at Queen's University for three years and became an OICR Transformative Pathology Fellow in the spring of 2014. He focuses his research on myeloid cancers, specifically myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a type of blood cancer he believes is currently lagging behind in attention from the research community. While he always had scientific aspirations, Rauh knows why he became a cancer researcher.
David Berman has been appointed Director, Queen's Cancer Research Institute
Posted 2015 March 04
David Berman has been appointed Director, Queen's Cancer Research Institute for an initial term from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020. Dr. Berman succeeds Dr. Roger Deeley who has held the appointment since August 1, 2003. This appointment is made by Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) on the recommendation of Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Dr. Berman obtained his Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1983 and completed a combined MD/PhD at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1996. This was followed by a residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital where he served as Chief Resident from 1998 to 1999. Subsequently, Dr. Berman completed a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology and genetics/pathology at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Berman joined the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University in 2001 as an instructor, and in 2002 he became an Assistant Professor of Pathology, Urology and Oncology. In 2008 he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. In 2012, Dr. Berman joined the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in 2014.
Dr. Berman's involvement in graduate and medical education is extensive, and he has provided mentorship and supervision to numerous undergraduate and graduate students, resident physicians, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. In his time at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, he served as Director of Curriculum for the Pathobiology Graduate Program and Director of the Career Development and Advising Program for Pathology Residents. In 2008, he was chosen as one of 20 'Master Mentors' to participate in an ongoing campus-wide mentorship program. At Queen's, Dr. Berman serves as Director of resident research for the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and he currently Chairs the Advanced Diagnostics Section for the Canadian Association of Pathologists.
A clinician scientist at Kingston General Hospital and Queen's University, Dr. Berman is an expert in bladder and prostate cancer diagnosis. His research focuses on developing novel diagnostic strategies for prostate and bladder cancer. He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications, has led/co-led over 15 peer-reviewed grant-funded studies
Society of Toxicology Carcinogenesis Specialty Section's highest graduate student honour
Posted 2015 March 04
This may seem like deja-vu, but we just found out Elizabeth Lightbody also won the Society of Toxicology Carcinogenesis Specialty Section's highest graduate student honour, the Dharm Singh Graduate Student Award.
The award will be given to her at the CSS Reception to be held at the SOT Annual meeting 2015 in San Diego, and she will be presenting her poster during the reception.
Cutting-edge technology comes to Queen's
Posted 2015 January 21
By Anne Craig, Communications Officer
Eight researchers at Queen's University have been awarded $1.3 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation's (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. Leading the funding are Stephen Archer (Cardiology) and Neil Renwick (Pathology and Molecular Medicine).
Dr. Renwick is focusing on cancer diagnostics.
"The goal of my CFI project is to transform cancer diagnostics using novel approaches," says Dr. Renwick who received $200,000. "Through the vision of the CFI, I will purchase advanced instrumentation that will allow us to profile ribonucleic acid, a molecule that carries genetic information, and visualize diseased tissues.
I expect these approaches will help pathologists to diagnose and classify cancers, recommend treatments, and predict clinical outcomes at the time of specimen assessment."
STC INTERTEK SCIENTIFIC & REGULATORY CONSULTANCY AWARD
Posted 2014 December 15
At the 46th Annual Society of Toxicology of Canada (STC) Meeting held last week in Ottawa, Elizabeth Lightbody won the STC INTERTEK SCIENTIFIC & REGULATORY CONSULTANCY AWARD for best poster presentation by a MSC graduate student (Dr. Nicol Lab).
The title of her poster was "PPARg LOSS INCREASES METASTATIC POTENTIAL OF HER2+ BREAST TUMOURS IN MAMMARY EPITHELIAL TARGETED KNOCKOUT MICE".
Her award included a cheque for $500 and a framed certificate. The photo with two representatives from Intertek on the left, and Dr David Josephy (president STC) on the right presenting Elizabeth (middle) with her award.
Faculty Photo 2014
Posted 2014 November 14
The Faculty of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University in 2014.
Pathology Awards Ceremony
Posted 2014 October 06
Congratulations again to:
Dr. Gulisa Turashvili - Dr. Paul Manley Award "For an Excellent Academic or Investigative Record By a Pathology Resident"
Dr. Kristopher Cunningham - Dr. R.S.A. Prentice Award "For Excellence in Teaching"
Dr. Gulisa Turashvili - Dr. R.S.A. Prentice Award "For Excellence in Teaching by a Pathology Resident & For Improving the Quality of Resident Education"
Professor named Royal Society Fellow
Posted 2014 September 10
Roger Deeley (Cancer Research Institute), a pioneer who has developed approaches to cloning novel genes based solely on their level of activity. Application of these approaches led to the discovery of a multidrug resistance protein, a drug efflux pump associated with resistance to chemotherapy in cancer, and some forms of leukemia.
Queen's researchers benefit from moustache fundraiser
A national cancer research collaboration that includes two members from Queen’s has been awarded the $5 million 2014 Movember Team Grant from Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC).
David Berman and Paul Park, both from the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, will receive funding as part of the Prostate Cancer Program Project in Rapid Development of Novel Diagnostic Markers for Early Prostate Cancer (PRONTO). PCC identified the research team as poised to make the greatest impact in prostate cancer research.
The grant is awarded by PCC and funded by the Movember Foundation, a global charity that relies on the fundraising efforts of men collecting pledges as they grow moustaches every November.
PRONTO aims to determine the type of treatment needed when men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Being a part of the PRONTO team provides me with a rare opportunity to participate in a large scale biomarker development project from discovery to clinical validation,” says Dr. Park. “The interactions fostered within this multi-institution, trans-disciplinary team will have a big impact in establishing my research career in this field. The funds provided by this grant will be used to support a post-doctoral trainee in my lab, and also to help establish one of the core components of this project here on Queen’s campus.”
Fewer than half of diagnosed prostate cancers are harmful and men newly diagnosed with the disease face an array of options and possible side effects.
“If we could better separate harmful and harmless prostate cancers, we could help patients and their doctors make clearer choices. With funding from Movember and Prostate Cancer Canada our team will develop new and better tests for this purpose,” says Dr. Berman. “For members of my laboratory and me, this is an unprecedented opportunity to work with experts in a variety of critically important areas to do something important for patients. We are extremely grateful to Movember, Prostate Cancer Canada, and all of the donors and volunteers who have made this work possible.”
The team is led by John Bartlett of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the research team is made up of 14 researchers from across Canada.
Follow these links for more information on Prostate Cancer Canada and Movember Canada.
Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men but only about half of these cancers grow rapidly enough to require treatment.
However, determining which prostate cancers need to be treated can be tricky because it's hard to predict through biopsy which cancers will eventually become harmful. In fact, because biopsies often do not yield accurate information, between a third and half of patients initially diagnosed with harmless prostate cancers are likely to be "upgraded" to potentially harmful cancers within a year or two of diagnosis.
A research team led by Dr. David Berman, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's, and Dr. Tamara Lotan from Johns Hopkins University discovered that the decline of a specific protein within a tumour could help identify the tumours requiring treatment.
"We have shown that a tumour-suppressing protein called phosphatase and tensin homolog, or PTEN, is lost most frequently in prostate tumours that will become harmful and require treatment," says Dr. Berman. "The team from Johns Hopkins has done a terrific job of making this test more reliable and valid and applicable to prostate cancer and to other forms of cancer."
Interim Head of the Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine
2014 June 26
On behalf of Dean Richard Reznick, I am writing to inform you that Dr. Lois Shepherd has accepted Provost Alan Harrison’s offer of appointment as Interim Head of the Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine at Queen’s University for the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.
The Boards of Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston General Hospital and Providence Care have also approved the recommendation that Dr. Shepherd be appointed as Interim Head of Pathology & Molecular Medicine at their institutions for concurrent terms.
Gail L. Knutson
Senior Staffing Officer
Faculty of Health Sciences
Pathology Research Day 2014
2014 May 26
Thank you all for your participation in yesterday’s departmental research day!
Congratulations again to:
Dr. Gulisa Turashvili for Best Talk/Poster Presentation by a Resident
Dr. Stacy Visser-Grieve for Best Talk/Poster Presentation by a Post Doctoral Fellow.
Queen's University researcher Xiaolong Yang has discovered the key to understanding how breast cancer patients become resistant to chemotherapy. This discovery could lead to more successful breast cancer treatment.
"We have identified a protein that may be critical in causing the resistance of breast cancer cells to antitubulin drugs, a group of chemotherapeutic drugs commonly used for the treatment of breast and lung cancer," explains Dr. Yang, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.
The research group led by Dr. Yang has discovered that antitubulin drugs kill breast cancer cells by inactivating a protein called YAP, which is critical for protecting cancer cells from drug-induced cell death. However, when the YAP protein becomes immune to drug-triggered inactivation, it can protect cancer cells from dying.
This discovery suggests that the YAP protein status can be used as a marker in predicting antitubulin drug response in patients which could lead to more effective chemotherapy.
Dr. Yang's research team including PhD candidate Yulei Zhao, Prem Khanal, a Terry Fox Transdisciplinary Postdoc Fellow, and Paul Savage (Artsci'11), currently an MD/PhD student at McGill University, collaborated on the research with Drs. Yi-Min She and Terry Cyr at Health Canada.
This research, which was funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, was published online in the journal Cancer Research.
Dr. David Rimm recently visited the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.
2014 April 11
Dr. David Rimm (Professor at Yale University) recently visited the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and spoke in the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute Seminar Series on “Quantitative In Situ Measurement of Biomolecules for Companion Diagnostics”. Dr. Rimm has pioneered the development of new quantitative approaches to biomarker assessment in pathology, and their use to classify tumors by prognosis or predict response to cancer therapy. Dr. Rimm's open approach to collaboration and sharing of resources and technology expertise was much appreciated by the translational researchers in our department and the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute.
Dr. Adolfo de Bold a recent inductee into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, visited the Department on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014. He met with students and faculty and presented a seminar entitled: "The Discovery of the Endocrine Heart: A Paradigm Shift in Basic and Clinical Cardiology"
Dr. de Bold and 5 colleagues were inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame at a recent ceremony hosted by the Queen's Faculty of Health Sciences on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Several Faculty, residents and students attended the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
In the Autopsy Session on Monday, March 3, Dr. Gulisa Turashvili presented her poster titled "Array-CGH Study of Autopsy Specimens: A Search for Tissue-Specific copy Number Changes".
On Tuesday, March 4, Dr. Charles Leduc presented a poster at the Breast Pathology session titled "Concurrent Molecular Targeting of Raf and Mek in Triple Negative Breast Cancer".
Dr. Ami Wang presented her poster titled "Reduced Membranous Expression of EpCAM-ICD Correlates with Poor Patient Outcome in Primary Colorectal Adenocarcinoma" at the Gastrointestinal Pathology session on Tuesday, March 4.
The 7th M. Daria Haust Visiting Lecturer
Tuesday 2014 May 20, 4pm, Richardson Lab Amphitheatre
Dr. Murray W. Huff, PhD
(Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, Director, Vascular Biology Research Group, Robarts Research Institute, London Ontario.
"Halting the Progression of Atherosclerosis: the Impact of PPAR Delta Activation"
Posted: 2014 April 10
The Local View with Ted Hsu: Breast Cancer Action Kingston
Background: Breast Cancer Action Kingston (BCAK) is a survivor-led, independent, non-profit
charitable organization. They are committed to research and advocacy directed towards
prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, educating women, men, the public and physicians
about the importance of breast self-examination and the benefits of early detection and to
providing support for patients, survivors and their families as they cope emotionally and
physically with breast cancer.
Professor made an honorary professor at Chinese university
Professor Susan Cole says she's always been internationally inclined since her first school trip to Japan at age 15. She loves to travel, enjoys bringing foreign students and postdoctoral fellows into her cancer research lab, and is involved in a handful of research collaborations with universities and clinics around the world.
"The beauty of biomedical science is that it is international," says Dr. Cole, who teaches in the departments of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, and is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cancer Biology and Bracken Chair in Genetics & Molecular Medicine. "Over the years, it's been wonderful to have many different countries represented in the lab and see the connections and collaborations that emerge from the relationships."
Six Canadian medical heroes will be inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF)
Tuesday was a big day at Queen’s University. Principal and vice-chancellor, Daniel Woolf announced the names of six Canadian medical heroes who will be inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) on April 24, 2014. For the first time, Queen’s University and Kingston will host this national event at the Rogers KRock Centre.
As co-chairs of the 2014 Induction Committee, vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris, and I are delighted about the exceptional nominees that we will honour next April (and one in particular – be sure to read to the end of the list):
Dr. Adolfo de Bold, an alumnus of Queen’s University who completed his graduate studies here. He received his Masters of Science 1971 and PhD in 1973 in experimental pathology. Dr. de Bold was also an esteemed faculty member in Queen’s Department of Pathology. In 1981, at a lab in Hotel Dieu Hospital, he discovered the cardiac hormone atrial natriuretic factor (ANF). This is considered one of the most important contributions to cardiovascular discoveries of the last half-century. For the first time we understood that the heart is more than a simple muscle – but a complex endocrinologic organ.
Dr. de Bold attended the announcement with his wife Dr. Mercedes Lina deBold (who also has a PhD from Queen’s). He spoke very fondly of his time in Kingston. His words illustrated the value of living, learning and working in at such a close-knit campus and community. He told us how he studied and then taught across the street in Botterell Hall, how all five of their children we born a block away at KGH, and how only a few blocks away he made a game-changing breakthrough at Hotel Dieu.
What I didn’t know beforehand, is Dr. De Bold took a big leap of faith in coming to Queen’s. In 1968, after meeting a Queen’s faculty member in Argentina, he decided to move (9,000km!) to Kingston with only a one-year contract as a research assistant. He enjoyed his work here as an R.A. so much that, well…the rest is history.
To wrap up this lengthy post, I would like to thank Principal Woolf and the Honourable Senator Hugh Segal who are the honourary co-chairs for the 2014 Induction. My very sincere thanks go out to the volunteers who are working very hard to make the 2014 ceremony a showcase for our community in the national spotlight. It will be an inspiring event and encourage all Kingstonians to consider attending, sponsor a student or best of all; purchase a table. You can find out more directly from The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, 519.488.2003, or email: email@example.com.
Posted: 2013 September 27
Three faculty members become Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Roger Deeley (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Jacalyn Duffin
(Medicine, Philosophy, History, Nursing, Education), and Elizabeth Eisenhauer (Oncology)
were chosen based on their demonstrated leadership, creativity, competence and commitment
to the health sciences.
Dr. Deeley is the Vice-Dean of Research for the Faculty of Health Sciences, Director of the
Queen's Cancer Research Institute, and a professor of pathology & molecular medicine, oncology,
and biomedical & molecular sciences. His research focus on multidrug resistance proteins (MRP)
has been widely recognized as a major contribution to understanding the causes of resistance
to cancer chemotherapy.
"I'm very honoured to have been elected as a Fellow of the Academy and I look forward to
participating in the activities of the Academy in its support and promotion of health
research in Canada," says Dr. Deeley.
Posted: 2013 September 23
Record number of Queen's professors elected to Royal Society of Canada
Seven Queen's University professors were named among the newest fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) today, more than in any other single year.
"It is remarkable in a university of our medium size to have seven distinguished faculty members elected to the Royal Society of Canada in one year. Each of these individuals has made important contributions to their fields, and I congratulate them on this well-deserved honour," says Principal Daniel Woolf, who currently serves on the RSC Executive Committee. "Moreover, fellowship in the three academies of the RSC is a much more meaningful and enduring measure of Queen's University's individual and collective achievements in research than are rankings exercises, which are too easily distorted by size of institution."
David Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) is an internationally-renowned researcher focused on the genetic basis of hemophilia and von Willebrand disease (VWD). His work has led to innovative strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of the world's most commonly-inherited bleeding diseases. Lillicrap's novel findings, now being applied to clinical care worldwide, are improving the quality of life for patients with inherited bleeding disorders.
The Royal Society of Canada was established under an Act of Parliament in 1882 as Canada's national academy. It helps promote Canadian research, scholarly accomplishment and advises governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.
Posted: 2013 September 09
Forensic pathologist brings expertise to Queen's and Kingston
Kris Cunningham is the newest faculty member in the School of Medicine's Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. He brings with him a wealth of experience and education to the science of forensic and cardiovascular pathology.
He comes from the University of Toronto, where he was a forensic and cardiovascular pathologist and medical director at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit of the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.
From the unique perspective of forensic pathology, Dr. Cunningham feels he can contribute to the well-being of surviving relatives of patients who have lost their lives to genetic forms of cardiovascular disease.
"It's a sad event when a young person dies of an undiagnosed inherited heart condition. The one thing I can potentially offer to relatives is insight on whether they too carry the mutation. They can be treated and then make important decisions about their own lives such as whether or not to have children," says Dr. Cunningham.
When he began studying medicine, after earning a PhD in biochemistry from Ohio State University, Dr. Cunningham planned to become a cardio specialist. But he changed his mind and chose to study pathology instead.
There has recently been an interest in utilizing the tools of molecular pathology to help answer questions that arise out of postmortem examinations, and Dr. Cunningham feels excited and privileged to be a part of this fascinating area of study. "We're planning to develop a molecular autopsy program here at Queen's" he says.
At Queen's, Dr. Cunningham will teach cardiovascular pathology, forensic pathology and courses in autopsy to medical, graduate and undergraduate students as well as to residents in pathology. He also plans to develop a research programme into sudden cardiac death.
In addition to his academic work at Queen's, Dr. Cunningham has also taken on the role of director of the Kingston Regional Forensic Pathology Unit and the Kingston General Hospital Autopsy Service. In this role, he will provide forensic pathology services to the region and fill a position that has been vacant for years. Needless to say, his arrival has made local and regional law officials relieved and happy.
"All criminally suspicious cases used to be sent to Ottawa or Toronto making it necessary for law enforcement officers to go there. It makes their job easier having someone in Kingston and brings in an expertise locally that can facilitate their investigations," says Dr. Cunningham.
Dr. Cunningham sees a personal benefit to leaving Toronto and moving to Kingston - he no longer has an hour-long commute to get to work. He and his wife, an art historian, are settling into their new home in west-end Kingston with their two young children. They're thrilled to be in such a family-friendly city and look forward to building a new life here.
KINGSTON - A commitment by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to fund 19 of Canada's leading research institutions with $300 million over 10 years is a welcome sign of long-term support, but it won't bring any immediate major changes to research in the country, said a researcher at Queen's University, one of the institutions receiving the money.
"There won't be immediate changes, but I think it's a recognition that we have the opportunity to build on what is already a strong base of research with the potential of enhancing and expanding that at Queen's and the other institutions involved," said Dr. David Lillicrap, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.
"I think we are all very pleased about this, but we don't expect to see in a few months, or even in one or two years, a major change. It is an evolutionary thing."
Lillicrap said the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the major funder of heart and stroke research in the country, is going through a major reorganization at the moment to strengthen the organization and particularly strengthen funding opportunities for research.
Posted: 2013 June 26
Queen's professor a world leader in vascular disease research
For the past five years, Queen's University researcher Donald Maurice (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) (cross appointed to Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has headed the Cardiac, Circulatory and Respiratory (CCR) research program in the Faculty of Health Sciences, a group of more than 30 clinicians and basic scientists who research the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Dr. Maurice's laboratory is currently examining the underlying causes of vascular disease by testing the idea that healthy cells carry out their various functions by grouping together proteins required and allowing them to interact within defined compartments.
Dr. Maurice's passion for his research is obvious, and it is accompanied by a strong work ethic, which grew from his roots in northern Ontario and his undergraduate summer experiences as an iron worker.
He earned his doctorate at McMaster University under the late Professor Richard Haslam.
Posted: 2013 June 25
New Appointments within the Department
Effective on or about 2013 July 1st, we have a number of new people associated with the Department:
Queen's researchers receive $1.3 million in federal funding
Six Queen's researchers with projects ranging from improving treatment for Parkinson's disease, to preventing work-related injuries are receiving $1.3 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
"The CFI, through the Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF), has provided us with an excellent mechanism for attracting and retaining top-flight researchers," says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. "As a result of this competition, six Queen's researchers will receive the funding required to develop innovative infrastructure that will provide the enriched research training environments necessary for leading-edge research. "
Michael Rauh (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) - Dr. Rauh will explore next-generation technologies that will allow earlier detection of blood cancer which causes debilitating and life-threatening fatigue, bleeding, infections and can progress to leukemia. The funding is being used to create a blood cancer research laboratory at Queen's.
Dr. Michael Rauh's Leaders Opportunity Fund Project, "A Translational Research Pipeline for Personalized Diagnostics in Myelodysplastic Syndromes" was for $206,000.
Posted: 2013 June 10
2013 PAIRO Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award
2013 March 15
Dr. John Rossiter was chosen as one of the recipients of the 2013 PAIRO (Professional Association of Internes and Residents of Ontario) Excellense in Clinical Teaching Award for Queen's University.
The Award comes with a $1000 donation to the award winners charity of choice.
Susan Cole is the first-ever Researcher-in-Residence at PARTEQ Innovations
2013 January 31
Susan Cole is the first-ever Researcher-in-Residence at PARTEQ Innovations, the technology transfer arm of Queen’s University. The former Queen’s Deputy Provost and PARTEQ board member will help mentor and assist researchers in the life sciences who are considering protecting their discoveries for the purpose of commercialization.
Dr. Cole will be working closely with Michael Wells, manager of commercial development in life sciences at PARTEQ.
“As an active researcher at the ‘front lines,’ I’m in a unique position to keep an eye and ear out for new and interesting ideas and suggest that researchers talk to PARTEQ,” says Dr. Cole, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Cancer Biology and the Bracken Chair in Genetics and Molecular Medicine. “I hope I can also suggest ways to help researchers avoid premature public disclosure that would compromise their ability to protect the potential intellectual property associated with their discoveries.”
Dr. Cole co-invented PARTEQ’s most-licensed technology with Roger Deeley, Vice-Dean Research, Queen’s Health Sciences/Vice-President, Health Sciences Research, Kingston General Hospital. The technology provides a gene coding for multidrug resistance protein (MRP). This discovery has been instrumental in advancing scientists’ understanding of drug resistance in tumors. It has been licensed to more than 30 companies worldwide and their original research paper on MRP has been cited more than 2,500 times since 1992.
David Murray Robertson, MD
2012 October 17
ROBERTSON, David Murray, MD - At home on Monday, October 15, 2012 in his 81st year. Beloved husband of Alice, survived by daughter Ellen and her husband James, daughter Barbara and son Douglas and his wife Annette and grandchildren Emily, Elizabeth, Vanessa and Patrick, Predeceased by parents Ellen and George Robertson of Weyburn, Sask., and brother Donald.
A 1955 graduate of Queen's University, he had a distinguished 30 year career at Queen's University and KGH as an academic neuropathologist. During his career he established the Neuropathology Division of the Department of Pathology as a successful and internationally recognized academic unit. He enjoyed many years as a recreational pilot and spent time in retirement on woodworking projects and at the family cottage.
A private service will be held at a later date. A special thank you to Barbara Fuller, MD, and the caring staff of CCAC, The Red Cross and Premier Homecare Services.
For those wishing, donations to U.H.K.F. - KGH department of Pathology would be appreciated
KGH researchers working to develop
new prostate cancer test
2012 Aug 21
Men with prostate cancer could soon know precisely how serious their disease is - and how aggressively to treat it - the moment they are diagnosed, thanks to a new team of researchers at KGH.
"We hope to create a test so accurate that patients don't need to consider surgery or radiation unless it's really needed," says Jeremy Squire, Research Chair in Molecular Pathology at KGH and Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University.
Squire heads up the research team along
with recent recruits Paul Park and Paulo
Nuin, both adjunct assistant professors. As
members of the newly formed Canadian
Prostate Cancer Biomarker Network
(CPCBN), they are joining investigators from
across the country who are working to create
a test that could augment - or altogether
replace - the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
test currently used.
And thanks to a recent $4 million
funding boost to the network via the Terry
Fox Research Institute and the Canadian
Partnership Against Cancer, a new test
could be close at hand.
Adding further momentum, Nuin
and Park have secured two grants
amounting to $300,000 from the Prostate
Cancer Canada Pilot Grants for Young
Investigators. The funding will go a long
way to "creating significant research
discoveries at KGH", says Squire.
So why is a new test needed? Squire
says it comes down to the PSA test’s
sensitivity. "The PSA test will detect even
the most benign cases," he says. "That
can lead to over-treatment, which is a
problem especially in the case of elderly
men in whom treatment could cause
more damage than the cancer."
Unlike the PSA blood test, the
KGH team plan to develop a test that
examines tissue from the tumour itself.
"Our test would give a precise risk. So,
in many cases, doctors would be able
to tell patients that they’ll be fine to live
their life without undergoing further
treatment," says Squire.
As part of CPCBN, researchers
will share clinical samples acquired
at KGH with members across the
Their inclusion is an important
step for KGH, says Squire.
"I've spent three years to ensure
we were part of this," he says. "With
KGH’s access to a large cohort across
Canada, we can design studies that will
have national prominence statistically."
The team is optimistic about how
quickly they can develop the test. "If
you’d asked me before, I would have
said within five to ten years," says
Squire. "Now, I’d say five."
That timeframe is paramount
because aging baby boomers will need
the test the most, he says.
"Our aging population is a great
concern. But we hope to move from
discovery to application very quickly."
Above all, the new biomarker
test would allow physicians to create
a truly patient-centered treatment
plan. "Treatment could be tailored to
the type of tumour a patient has while
taking into consideration his age,"
says Squire. "Now that’s personalized
Dr. M. Daria Haust was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
2012 August 14
Dr. M. Daria Haust was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
of the Governor General of Canada at a special presentation ceremony of the
Diamond Jubilee Gala, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, on June 18th, 2012.
A new commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
During the year of celebrations, 60 000 deserving Canadians will be recognized.
The Chancellery of Honours, as part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, administers the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal program.
Dr. David Good
2012 July 03
Welcome to new Faculty member
Dr. David Good, Hematopathologist, Assistant Professor
Dr. Good will be taking up residence in Richardson Labs Room 201C.
CACB Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession of Clinical Biochemistry
Sponsored by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
2012 June 11
Dr. Christine Collier, Service Chief for Clinical Chemistry at Kingston General Hospital and consultant Clinical Biochemist at Belleville General Hospital is the 2012 recipient of this award “in recognition of her multitude of accomplishments that have advanced the field of Clinical Biochemistry in Canada in the past 24 years”.
Dr. Collier’s current service and research interests include cardiac markers, chronic kidney disease and eGFR, protein electrophoresis, testosterone in hypogonadism, and the importance of biological variation and measurement uncertainty in test interpretation. At Queen’s she has been involved in TIPS (Teaching Improvement Project System), PBL and medical school admissions for many years, and she served three years as the Phase II coordinator for undergraduate Medicine. Dr. Collier has been a member of Ontario’s QMPLS General Chemistry Committee, President of the OSCC and Chair of Upstate New York section of the AACC, and on the IATDMCT. She runs the listservs for the CSCC, OSCC and IATDMCT. She helped coordinate implementation of eGFR reporting in Ontario and across Canada, revamped the CSCC CE program into the Professional Development program, and for the last 5 years has co-coordinated the bimonthly CSCC Education Roundtable webinars, which reach 200+ people at 30+ sites.
Dr. Collier received the CSCC Award for Education Excellence in 2000 and 2004, the Canadian Association of Medical Education’s Certificate of Merit in 2005, the OSCC Award for Outstanding Contribution to Clinical Chemistry in 2006, the CSCC Grant for Leadership and/or Administration in 2007 and 2008, and the Upstate New York AACC Somogyi-Sendroy Award in 2008. She is currently studying part-time for a Masters in Community Health and Epidemiology at Queen’s University.
Decreasing Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence Aided by Good Bone Health
2012 June 11
Good bone health may also be a step towards preventing recurrence of breast cancer, according to results from an exploratory study led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) located at Queen's University.
"Results of the study suggest that preventing this deterioration in bone health by using commonly-used therapeutics known as bisphosphonates may have an additional positive effect in decreasing the risk of breast cancer recurrence", says Lois Shepherd, Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University, physician coordinator at the NCIC Clinical Trials Group and a pathologist at Kingston General Hospital.
Dr. Xiaolong Yang has received a three-year research
grant from Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF)
2012 May 03
Dr. Xiaolong Yang has received $449,100 for a three-year research
grant from Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to study the roles of several novel genes in chemotherapeutic drug resistance of
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women
worldwide and is responsible for one third of all cancer deaths of
women in Canada. One of the difficulties encountered in breast cancer
therapy is that breast cancer patients are usually either
intrinsically resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs or acquire
resistance after initial treatment, which results in cancer recurrent
following primary chemotherapy. The research findings from this
project will not only has the potential to significantly advance our
understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying drug resistance
but also has great implication for the future development of novel
therapeutic drugs for the successful treatment of drug-resistant
breast cancer patients.
2012 March 27 Are you a student looking for a PATH499 or CANC499 supervisor & Lab for 2012-2013?
** Go here to see the list of faculty **, with their research interests and contact information, *possibly* taking 4th year students. Please contact them directly.
Dr. Stacy Visser-Grieve - Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award
Posted 2012 April 11
Dr. Stacy Visser-Grieve is on a roll! She recently won a Fellowship Award from the Terry Fox Foundation -CIHR Training Program in Transdisciplinary Cancer Research and now she has won a prestigious Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation of $142,500 over three years. These awards will allow her to pursue a project entitled "Identifying substrates of the calpain protease system and elucidating calpain's role in the cancer cell signalling network". This will be carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Greer in the Queen's Cancer Research Institute in the context of his Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded research project investigating calpain proteases as potential therapeutic targets in breast cancer. Stacy's project will include innovative protein structure-function and mass spectrometry-based proteomic methods to identify novel calpain targets, as well as transgenic mouse and cell models to elucidate the molecular roles of calpain in cancer cells. This work will be carried out in collaboration with Drs. Zongchao Jia and Steve Smith.
Stacy is a recent graduate of the Pathology and Molecular Medicine PhD program where she trained with Dr. Xiaolong Yang and published several outstanding papers on the LATS tumor suppressor. We are delighted that her outstanding potential as a cancer researcher has now been recognized by the CBCF, and that we have the opportunity to see her take the next steps in her development as a future independent breast cancer researcher.
2012 March 19
Dr. Surtaj Iram - ABC2012 Young Investigator Award
This is a very prestigious competitive award because this biannual meeting (4th FEBS Special Meeting on ATP-Binding Cassette (ABC) Proteins) is the top international meeting in the field. There is a cash prize that accompanied this award. So you can see that Surtaj's success at the recent Resident/Post doc Day is now reflected internationally.
Roger G. Deeley reappointed Vice-Dean Research in the Faculty of
Health Sciences and Vice President Health Sciences Research at
Kingston General Hospital
Posted 2012 February 07
Roger Deeley has been reappointed as Vice-Dean Research in the Faculty
of Health Sciences at Queen's University and Vice President Health
Sciences Research at Kingston General Hospital and for the Kingston
teaching hospitals for a second five-year term commencing January 1,
These appointments are announced by Dr. Alan Harrison, Provost
and Vice-Principal (Academic) at Queen's University, and Ms. Leslee
Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer at Kingston General
Following ten years with the National Cancer Institute at the National
Institutes of Health in the United States, Dr. Deeley came to Queen's
University in 1980. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1984
and in 1987 he was appointed as the first holder of the Joseph S.
Stauffer Chair and as Director of the Cancer Research Laboratories. He
served as Director of the Division of Research for Cancer Care Ontario
from 1988 to 2007 and since 2003 he has also been the Director of
Queen's Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Deeley has held the joint
position of Vice-Dean Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences and
Vice President Health Sciences Research at Kingston General Hospital
since 2007. Dr. Deeley is a member of the Department of Pathology and
Molecular Medicine with cross-appointments in the Department of
Biomedical and Molecular Sciences and the Department of Oncology.
Dr. Deeley has maintained an active, internationally recognized
research program that has been continuously funded from sources such
as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Cancer
Institute of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and
industry. He has also been responsible for developing a number of
major research initiatives, which together with his own research
program, have garnered over $32M in funding. Dr. Deeley has extensive
experience with research funding agencies and he has been involved in
both provincial and national cancer control research agendas. Over the
course of his career, Dr. Deeley has published numerous peer-reviewed
research papers, reviews and book chapters, and he is also co-inventor
on a number of patents related to the discovery of the multi-drug
resistance protein, MRP1. Dr. Deeley was co-recipient in 2005 of the
Robert L. Noble Prize presented jointly by the National Cancer
Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society, and in 2007 he
was the recipient of the National Cancer Institute of Canada's Diamond
Jubilee Award for outstanding contributions to cancer research.
Dr. Xiaolong Yang has received $743,000 for a 5-year research grant
from CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Research) to study the roles
of a novel Hippo signaling pathway in lung cancer.
posted: 2012 January 30
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, killing 1.2 million
people annually. Therefore, identification of genes responsible for
lung cancer development is crucial for its successful therapies. Dr.
Yang's lab has recently discovered TAZ, a major component of an
emerging Hippo signaling pathway, as a novel gene causing lung cancer.
In this research project, Dr. Yang will further explore how TAZ and
other components of the Hippo signaling pathway contribute to lung
cancer development and progression using human lung cancer cell lines,
mouse model, and clinical cancer patient tissues. The research
findings from this research project will finally identified a new
pathway critical for lung cancer development and will have great
implications for the future diagnosis and therapy of lung cancer.
Hundreds of world class researchers have helped KGH carve out a reputation as a national and global leader ion patient-porinted research.
Everyone will have a chance to learn more about just what they are discovering and creating at our inaugural Research Showcase.
The Showcase is also a step toward realizing the KGH 2015 strategic goal of cultivating an environment that will help strengthen the hospital's reputation as a hub of patient-oriented clinical research.
Dr. Jeremy Squire, KGH's first ever Research Chair in Molecular Pathology, will deliver the keynote address, sharing his insights into taking research discoveries from the prostate cancer genome into clinical practice. The showcase will also include tours of research facilities and oral and poster presentations from dozens of KGH research teams. The free event is open to all KGH staff, members of the regional research community and the general public.
9:00-5:30 KGH Research Showcase Queen's Etherington Hall & Richardson Amphitheatre
9:00 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Squire
"Taking research discoveries from the prostate cancer genome into clinical practice."
Etherington Hall Auditorium
Transdisciplinary Training Program - Cancer Research Institute
2011 March 04
For PhD candidates Jess Cockburn and Vikki Ho, the reasons for taking an interdisciplinary approach
to research are clear. “Aside from the innate fact that this is where all research is going, I think
everyone is starting to realize that we can learn a lot more if we work together in a group setting,”
explains Cockburn. “I think we’re more efficient and resourceful working as a team,” adds Ho.
Both Ho and Cockburn are part of the the Queen’s University Terry Fox Foundation Traning Program in Transdisciplinary
Cancer Research in Canada, housed within the university’s Cancer Research Institute. The program gives graduate students
and post-doctoral fellows a chance to work with researchers in different disciplines within cancer research. Cockburn explains
that while the program is open to anyone doing cancer research, “you have to demonstrate that your research is truly
Researchers awarded $850,000 for five projects
2011 January 21
Queen's University researchers have received $848,828 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for five projects that range from studying how drugs are dispersed through the body to finding a better way to assess the condition of Canada's deteriorating infrastructure.
Susan Cole (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) leads a team that received $400,000 to purchase a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer that will be housed in Chernoff Hall and managed by the newly formed Queen's Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Unit (QMSPU).
Civil Engineering professor Neil Hoult.
"We will be purchasing a machine that will be the envy of other universities and an important instrument for a significant number of Queen's researchers," says Dr. Cole, who is also Queen's Deputy Provost.
Tom Massey (Pharmacology and Toxicology) and Richard Oleschuk (Chemistry) were co-lead investigators with Dr. Cole on the grant proposal. All three will use the new machine with various projects.
Dr. Cole researches drug resistance and how drugs are distributed within the body, focusing on what proteins are key to regulating those processes.
"Two individuals can respond very differently to the same drug. We want to know how drugs interact with proteins that carry the drugs into and out of cells. These transporter proteins are much larger than the drugs they carry so we'd like to know where these drugs bind on the proteins - that's a key question we've been trying to address by other, non-direct methodologies. This new machine will allow us to obtain direct evidence that is extremely precise" says Dr. Cole.
The Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, seeks to recruit an Academic Pathologist/Clinician Scientist.
2011 January 07
The primary expectation of the successful appointee will be to develop an innovative research program in molecular pathology that will assist in the understanding of molecular and cellular aspects of cancer, leading to better diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Top 5 Junior Member Abstracts Announced at CAP '10
2010 October 20
The top 5 abstracts submitted by Junior Members of the College of American Patho
to the CAP'10 meeting were recognized during ceremonies held at the meeting.
Second Place ($1,000 award): The Prognostic Value of MicroRNAs in Low-Risk Endom
Jamie Snowdon, MD; Xiao Zhang, MSc; Victor Tron, MD; Tim Childs, PhD.
Funding supports study of breast cancer gene mutation
2010 August 10
Kingston, ON -- A team of Queen’s University researchers has received $450,000 to study a gene mutation common to breast cancer patients. The three-year funding supports research aimed at developing an inexpensive diagnostic tool for identifying individuals with the gene mutation.
“In the long term, we hope to identify people early who are at risk of developing breast cancer – before they get cancer – so they have the best possible surveillance and treatment options,” says Scott Davey.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation funding will continue a collaborative project between Dr. Davey and Dr. Harriet Feilotter, both members of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and the Cancer Research Institute.
The problem lies in BRCA1, a human tumor suppressor gene. Inheriting a damaged BRCA1 gene sets off a series of events that leads to an individual developing cancer. BRCA1 carriers develop tumors that present earlier and are more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer.
“In the first phase of the study, we were able to detect changes in gene expression patterns that distinguish people with BRCA1 mutations from those with no apparent mutation," says Dr. Davey. "The second round of funding will allow us to validate and extend this work, hopefully leading to both a better understanding of BRCA1 function, and an improved method for identifying individuals that carry the gene mutations.”
Using fresh blood cells from patients, the research team will try to nail down the actual function of BRCA1 to determine exactly how it inhibits cancer.
Bridging the gap between laboratory research
and healthcare to improve patient outcomes
2010 July 27
A truly integrated approach to healthcare combines scientific research and clinical medicine to provide the best possible service for patients. Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's has been a leader in adopting this model to meet healthcare needs in Kingston and throughout Southeastern Ontario.
"The department is exceptional in that it sits at the interface between basic health science research and the clinical departments," says Vice-Dean, Research and Stauffer Professor of Basic Oncology Roger Deeley, who is also Vice President of Health Sciences Research at Kingston General Hospital (KGH).
The department recognized this special role earlier than its counterparts elsewhere in Canada, and embraced it to a greater extent, so department members are now a mix of medical doctors and PhD researchers working together to meet broad healthcare needs.
"There is no point in doing research if we can't turn it into something useful for the patient," says Victor Tron, head of Queen's Pathology and Molecular Medicine and KGH Laboratories. "We use our scientific and clinical research extensively with patients. It's an important part of the culture of our department."
Faculty members play a vital role in clinical care by providing diagnostic laboratory services and engaging in direct patient care through integration with the KGH Clinical Laboratory Services Program.
"A patient can't move through the health care system until they've been diagnosed, and that's where we come in," adds Dr. Tron. "We have ongoing collaboration with other physicians. They are the quarterbacks and we're the rest of the team in the background working together to serve the patient."
They also deliver laboratory medicine services to hospitals throughout the region. Faculty members assist with blood work, cancer diagnoses, infectious disease diagnoses, and autopsies. They perform genetic testing and use their innovative laboratory research to help them achieve the most accurate diagnoses possible.
And faculty members are active teachers at the university, bringing their collaborative approach into the classroom.
"For example, if we're discussing a genetic disorder for skin cancer, I would talk about the clinical aspects of the disease and a biochemist would talk about the research aspect. It's a way for the students to see our collaborative process at work," says Dr. Tron.
"I think it's a model that we should aspire to in other areas of health research," adds Dr. Deeley. "The fact that four pathology and molecular medicine faculty hold named research chairs speaks for itself."
The department is home to over 50 Queen's scientists and clinical physicians as well as 15 cross-appointed professors. The researchers collaborate to produce world-renowned work focusing on everything from cytogenetics to infectious diseases to anatomic pathology, all with a single goal—improving patient outcomes.
For more information on the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, visit their new website at www.path.queensu.ca.
CIHR funding boosts Queen's research into breast cancer treatment
2010 July 27
Peter Greer (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) has received $1.6 million for two research projects aimed at developing new treatments to slow tumour growth in breast cancer.
"We have been working on these projects for several years and are delighted that both grants were renewed in the last Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) competition," says Dr. Greer.
The researchers in Dr. Greer's lab are looking at the impact of two enzymes – Fer and calpain – on tumour growth.
In previous studies at Queen's Cancer Research Institute, Dr. Greer and his research team have shown that inhibiting these enzymes slows cancer growth. Further research is aimed at a deeper understanding of how Fer and calpain contribute to causing tumours, and at developing new drugs to target the enzymes in cancer treatment.
Fer regulates cellular functions by adding phosphates to proteins to affect their functions, and calpain regulates cell behaviour by splitting proteins into smaller peptides.
"There are exciting new technologies and huge amounts of knowledge coming down the pipe that are revealing the biological complexities of cancer at a much more sophisticated level," says Dr. Greer. "I hope to see some of the work we have done contribute to that further understanding of cancer and to improved treatments for breast and other cancer in the future."
Cancer is a disease of gene mutations. The challenge for cancer biologists is to determine how gene products, and in some cases mutant versions of them, interact in ways that control cancer cell survival and production, as well as migration and invasion properties leading to the spread of disease.
At the recent World Federation of Hemophilia Congress in Buenos Aires (July 10-14th) the Queen's Molecular Hemostasis Group was very well represented.
2010 July 27
Drs. James and Lillicrap presented and/or chaired five oral sessions involving the genetic analysis of inherited
bleeding disorders, the use of animal models to evaluate clotting factor immunogenicity and the development of
gene transfer strategies for hemophilia.
In addition, several posters from the group were also displayed at
the meeting, and Amrit Kahlon, a Queen's hematology fellow, attended the meeting to present her results
on peri-operative levels of factor VIII and VWF.
Finally, Dr. Lillicrap, a current member of the
Medical Advisory Board of WFH, has been appointed as the Chair of the new Research Committee
of the Federation, and there are plans to launch a new international inherited bleeding disorder
research program at the 50th anniversary meeting of WFH in 2012.
Queen’s Pathology residents receive PSI Foundation Research Prizes
2010 July 7
Three Pathology and Molecular Medicine residency trainees have been awarded prestigious PSI Foundation Research Prizes.
Dr Alanna Church’s examined the role of fibrosis as a prognostic factor in Hodgkin’s Disease. Dr Church worked with Dr David Lebrun, a clinician scientist Anatomical Pathologist in the Department.
Dr Jaime Snowdon used profiling of small non-coding RNA molecules, microRNAs, to examine their utility to diagnosis bladder cancer in the urine of patients at risk. This work was lead by Dr Boag, the Service Chief of Anatomical Pathology at Queen’s.
Finally, Dr Paul Masry implemented a novel cloning sequencing technique to profile a rare and poorly understood skin tumor called Merkel Cell Carcinoma. The work was done under the supervision of Dr Victor Tron, Head of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen’s University, in collaboration with Dr Tom Tuschl at Rockefeller University.
The residency program values and encourages resident research, and is very pleased that the above three physicians are being recognized for their valued contributions.
Dr. Peter Greer and Dr. Susan Cole, both Professors in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, obtained new funding at the recent CIHR operating grant competition.
2010 July 02
Dr. Greer was impressive in obtaining two major five awards for a total of 1.6 million dollars. One grant is focused on the calpain, a potential target in breast cancer. While the second award, furthers Dr. Greer’s interest in the oncogene, fer. Dr. Susan Cole was awarded 663K over five years to further her studies on the role of the transporter, ABCC4.