Donna, PhD candidate, studies the prevention of breast cancer metastases

Donna Murrell
Donna Murrell

Hi! My name is Donna Murrell and I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics at Western University. I’m working under the supervision of Dr. Paula Foster at Robarts Research Institute, and we’re using MRI to monitor the fate of breast cancer cells in the brain. You might have seen my first blog post  in March 2014.

It’s been a great month in the lab! I had a very exciting opportunity to present my research to the community at Western’s Leaders in Innovation Dinner on Nov 18. I also had my mid-level comprehensive exam, which is a major milestone for a PhD student. I’m happy (and relieved!) to say I passed!

The topic of the exam was concomitant tumour resistance, which is the concept that some primary tumours, such as breast cancer, may be able to prevent the development of metastases by inducing a state of dormancy at distant sites. Dormancy means that the cancer cell is still viable, but it doesn’t grow.

It’s really important to understand how a primary tumour could do this, because it may be possible to mimic the mechanism as a treatment strategy. I’m hoping to use our MRI cell-tracking technology to investigate this idea further in the new year.


Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!

Donna Murrell, PhD Candidate
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre