Last night, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation hosted its second annual Beyond the Lab event. The evening’s event is an opportunity to chat with some of the researchers that are making a difference in breast cancer research in British Columbia and learn what drives them to do what they do. The night is best described as “speed dating meets a view inside the lab”; six conversation stations were set up around the event, with each station giving you a 10 minute session with the exceptional researchers who are making a difference:

Station #1 – Dr. Nagarajan (Raj) Kannan


Dr. Kannan’s research is focused on understanding the various functions of normal primitive cells in the mammary gland and the cellular origin of human breast cancers. By looking into these “normal” cells, his research hopes to determine what causes the transformation and growth of tumors in these cells.

Station #2 – Dr. Jay Shankar


Dr. Shankar’s work focuses on the role that pseudopodia plays in cancer migration and metabolism. Pseudopodia act like feet that allow cells to move, so Shankar’s lab work is critical to understanding and one day reducing breast cancer metastasis (secondary growths at other sites in the body away from the cancer’s primary location).

Station #3 – Dr. John Spinelli


Head of Cancer Control Research at the BC Cancer Agency, Dr. Spinelli’s primary research focuses on environmental, occupational, genetic and other risk factors for breast cancer. For example, current research being undertaken explores the risk factors for breast cancer in women who perform shift work.

Station #4 – Dr. Melisa Hamilton & Dr. Shaun Chafe


Both Dr. Hamilton & Dr. Chafe are exploring the process of tumor growth and metastasis. Dr. Hamilton is specifically researching new therapeutic targets for treating patients with metastatic breast cancer, while Dr. Chafe is exploring the survival techniques utilized by breast cancer cells that have been deprived of oxygen to eradicate tumor growth and metastasis. An interesting chat with these two doctors explained how the process of metastasis works, by tricking the immune system and healthy cells in to helping cancers migrate to other areas.

Station #5 – Dr. Olivia Tseng & Dr. Carolyn Gotay


Dr. Gotay’s work focuses on cancer prevention, while Dr. Tseng’s focuses on primary care for breast cancer patients surviving after treatment. Dr. Gotay chatted about the key areas that will help reduce the risk of breast cancer, highlighting both exercise and healthy eating. Dr. Tseng talked about the effect of screening for chronic diseases, in particular osteoporosis, and the key communications that must happen between patients and doctors to improve care for people post breast cancer.

Station #6 – Dr. Marcel Bally


Dr. Bally’s research is primarily drug-related, and is focused on exploring how nano and drug carrier technologies can assist in the therapeutic performance of drugs and improve the treatment of cancer. Much of his interesting work is geared towards promoting investments to support clinical and commercial drug development.

With upwards of 200 people in attendance (doubled from last year!), the event was a great chance to see how dollars are put to work, and some of the great research that is being done pre, during, and post-breast cancer. An excellent event that we as Champions for the Cause were honored to attend!

CBCF’s Beyond the Lab 2014 was last modified: by