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London Citywide Breast Cancer Retreat 2014

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Dr. Ted Vandenberg welcomes attendees to the Third Annual London Translational Breast Cancer Research Retreat

Dr. Vandenberg 

The Third Annual London Translational Breast Cancer Research Retreat was held on January 10, 2014. The retreat was organized by the Pamela Greenaway Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit and the London Breast Disease Site Council.  Our theme this year was “Translational Breast Cancer Research: Research Successes and Prospects for the Future.”

The nearly 50 attendees included research scientists from seven different departments at Western University, as well as medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, molecular geneticists, physicists, nurses and others involved with breast cancer patient care in London, Ontario.  Attendees also included 19 trainees, MSc and PhD students and postdoctoral scholars, who have been awarded TBCRU trainee awards.  It was a diverse group, bringing a variety of points of view and expertise to breast cancer research and patient care.A key component of the retreat was research presentations from four of our senior TBCRU trainees.


TBCRU trainees who presented their research at the Retreat, left to right: Gabrielle Siegers, PhD; Camilla Urbaniak, PhD candidate; Dr. Gregor Reid, Camilla’s graduate supervisor; Omar El-Sherif, PhD candidate; Stephanie Dorman, PhD candidate; Dr. Peter Rogan, Stephanie’s graduate supervisor

Omar El-Sherif, PhD student in the Medical Biophysics Department and supervised by Dr. Stewart Gaede, spoke about his research to improve radiation treatment planning for patients with left-sided breast cancer, in order to minimize radiation damage to the heart.   PhD student Camilla Urbaniak, Department of Microbiology & Immunology and supervised by Dr. Gregor Reid, described her studies on the protective vs. harmful effects of different bacteria in breast cancer development.  Stephanie Dorman, PhD student in the Biochemistry Department, supervised by Dr. Peter Rogan, outlined her work to discover new mutations in genes important to metastatic breast cancer, based on novel bioinformatics approaches.   Gabrielle Siegers, PhD, a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, supervised by Dr. Lynne-Marie Postovit, presented her research on how Nodal, a breast tumor-associated protein, may change the anti-tumour properties of an immune cell type called Gamma Delta T cells. All four trainee talks generated lively discussion, and new clinical links were formed or enhanced at the meeting to facilitate the translation of these research studies to benefit patients.

The program also included research progress updates from Drs. Muriel Brackstone (tumor banking), Peter Ainsworth (new developments in BRCA1/2 genetic testing) and Paula Foster (improved imaging for patients with brain metastases).  Dr. Ted Vandenberg presented an overview on emerging trends in the care of breast cancer patients for the future, based on research successes. To close out the day, Drs. Ann Chambers and Alison Allan led an interactive and animated discussion with the entire group about improved methods for early detection of breast cancer metastases and clinical implications.

Attendees at the Breast Cancer Research Retreat

Attendees at the Breast Cancer Research Retreat

All in all, the retreat was a resounding success, with positive feedback from attendees including thanks for a “thought-provoking” meeting. We look forward to capitalizing on the new ideas and relationships generated in order to move patient-centred breast cancer research forward in exciting new directions in 2014!


– Dr. Ann Chambers, Director of the Pamela Greenaway Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit (TBCRU)

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