Hello, my name is Natasha Knier and I am a TBCRU trainee, currently studying how breast cancer spreads to the brain. As a TBCRU trainee this year, I am excited and eager to document my process in participating in efforts towards the Breast Cancer Society of Canada’s annual Mother’s Day Walk for 2019.
My hope is that you will be able to share the experience of myself and other TBCRU trainees within the Robarts Cellular and Molecular Imaging Group (CMIG) as we fundraise, market, prepare, and ultimately participate in the walk this year.
From my lab, myself, Olivia Sehl (TBCRU Trainee), Veronica Dubois (TBCRU Trainee), and Katie Parkins (TBCRU Alumni) will be participating in efforts towards this year’s Mother’s Day Walk together. So why are we walking? As students working in breast cancer research, we are passionate about supporting fundraising and awareness efforts that highlight the important need for further research in this area, as well as showing support for the community of individuals who have been affected by breast cancer at any point in their lives.
To get us started, I thought I would introduce myself and my lab members, as well as the research that we are doing in breast cancer that is currently funded by the generous studentships from TBCRU.
As mentioned, my name is Natasha Knier, and I am an MSc Candidate in the Medical Biophysics program at Western University, supervised by Dr. Paula Foster. My project focuses on studying breast cancer that spreads to the brain using patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models by using a special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique to see which cells that spread to the brain die, which form new tumours, and which cells do not form tumours, but remain within the brain. You can read more about my project here. This is my first year participating in fundraising efforts for the Mother’s Day Walk this year, and so I am excited to be part of communicating my experiences with the walk.
Olivia Sehl is an MSc Candidate in Medical Biophysics at Western University, and she is also supervised by Dr. Paula Foster. Olivia studies immune cells, called macrophages, that promote the growth and spread of breast cancer. Her project involves the development a MRI technique to detect and quantify these cells. A major aim is to deplete tumor-associated macrophages to determine whether this impacts the growth and spread of breast tumors. Continue reading here.
Veronica Dubois is another TBCRU trainee that is currently an MSc Candidate in Medical Biophysics. She is co-supervised by Dr. John Ronald and Dr. Paula Foster at Western University. Veronica focuses on developing techniques to study a new kind of cancer therapy called chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy. This type of therapy involves collecting immune cells from a patient, attaching a protein that helps them to find and kill cancer cells, then placing these “trained” immune cells back into the patient where they can travel through the body and fight the patient’s cancer more effectively. You can read more here.
Lastly, Katie Parkins is a TBCRU Alumni who has participated in previous Mother’s Day Walks during her time as a TBCRU trainee. Katie is a PhD Candidate in Medical Biophysics at Western University, and is co-supervised by Dr. John Ronald and Dr. Paula Foster. Katie’s work focuses on combining iron based cellular MRI techniques with optical imaging to better track the fate of metastatic breast cancer cells in the brain and other sites throughout the body, with the overall goal of better understanding the mechanisms that lead to cancer metastasis and recurrence. You can read more about the research Katie did as a TBCRU trainee here. We are happy to have Katie on our fundraising team as her insights as a past trainee are extremely valuable to our organizational efforts.
We hope that you enjoyed hearing a bit about our plans to walk this year and how we are contributing to the important field of breast cancer research. If you are interested in joining us on our Mother’s Day Walk journey, you can easily register at mothersdaywalk.ca
Looking forward to sharing more about our time leading up to the walk, and we hope you follow along!
Support researchers like these visit mothersdaywalk.ca and consider registering to walk or making a donation.
Natasha Knier is an MSc Candidate in Medical Biophysics at Western University, and is currently supported by a TBCRU Studentship Award for 2018-2019.