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2011/2012 Annual Research Doctoral and Postgraduate Fellowship Recipients

Dr. Melisa Hamilton, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver

Project Title

Hypoxia-mediated mechanisms of myeloid cell induction in breast cancer metastasis.

Project Overview

Dr. Hamilton has found that poorly oxygenated (hypoxic) breast tumour cells produce proteins that cause normal bone marrow cells to accumulate in organs, including the liver and lungs. By improving the understanding of this process, the project will aid in the design of new and effective therapies to reduce the accumulation of bone marrow cells in organs, prevent metastatic tumour growth, and improve breast cancer patient survival and quality of life.


Dr. Jill Murray, Deeley Research Centre, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island

Project Title

Role of macrophage-derived oncostatin-m in regulating estrogen receptor suppression in breast cancer

Project Overview

Dr. Murray is working to understand why some breast tumors are estrogen receptor (ER) positive while others are ER negative. A better understanding of the mechanism of ER suppression could potentially have a significant impact on treatment options for a subset of ER negative patients.

Dr. Elisa Chan, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver

Project Name

Do general practitioner letters improve screening mammography participation rates?

Project Overview

In BC, 43% of women aged 50-69 years who had a normal initial mammogram do not return within 30 months. Using focus groups, the project will develop content for a primary care physician letter that encourages them to participate again. The letter will then be tested to see if it is more effective than the current generic reminder letter and determine if the screening mammography rate improves. The results will be shared with the Screening Mammography Program of BC so it can optimize its resources. 

This is the first year the work of the judy&company Leadership Giving Circle is generously supporting a CBCF Fellowship.

Dr. Kristen Reipas, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Project Title

Targeting Y-box binding protein-1 eliminates tumor-initiating cells and reduces relapse in triple-negative breast cancer. 

Project Overview

Despite advances in breast cancer treatment, current therapies remain unable to prevent drug resistance and recurrence. Recently, tumor-initiating cells (TICs) have been proposed as drivers of relapse as they are inherently drug resistant and survive chemotherapy. Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) is associated with breast cancer recurrence. Kristen and her team also discovered that an old drug used to treat breast cancer called ellipticine has the novel ability to deactivate YB-1. The project aims to provide proof-of-concept for a novel treatment regimen specifically designed to prevent drug-resistance and relapse that can be directly translated into clinic.