Academic Rank:
Honorary Assistant Professor, UBC
Head, Radiation Biology Unit – Department of Integrative Oncology
Affiliation(s):
Short Bio:
  • Head, Radiation Biology Unit, Integrative Oncology Department
  • Distinguished Scientist, Radiation Biology Unit, Integrative Oncology Department
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia

 

Academic background

  • Medical Biophysics Unit, BC Cancer Research Centre. Post-doctoral Fellow. 1989
  • University of London, Middlesex Hospital Medical School & CRC Gray Laboratory, Northwood, UK. PhD (Radiation Biology). 1986
  • University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. BSc (Biochemistry Hons, Biochemistry). 1978

Research Interest

Tumour Microenvironment

The tumour microenvironment is heterogeneous, both biochemically and structurally. Abnormal vasculature (with inter-vascular distances reaching 300µm or ~40 cell diameters) and dysregulated cell proliferation result in microregional gradients in nutrients, oxygen and drugs.

This biochemical and structural heterogeneity has consequences for cancer treatment. Cells located far from blood vessels are difficult for drugs to reach and because they have little oxygen, are resistant to radiotherapy.

Our group is interested in how the tumour microenvironment influences anticancer treatments including radiation and chemotherapy and have developed methodologies to quantitatively examine the extravascular distribution and effects of small and large molecular weight anticancer agents.

Hypoxia

Hypoxic cells are commonly found in solid cancers and their presence diminishes the effectiveness of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Hypoxia arises either because cells become located distal to blood vessels and intervening cells exhaust the oxygen supply or because of transient changes in vessel perfusion. We have developed quantitative methodologies to assess tumour oxygenation and are developing methods of targeting hypoxia with drugs to increase the effectiveness of radio- and chemotherapy.

3D Tissue Engineering

Cells grown on permeable support membranes can be used to model the tumour microenvironment and we have used these systems to measure gradients in oxygenation, cell proliferation, anticancer drugs and their activity. Initially seeded as monolayers they can grow to thicknesses of ~500µm depending on conditions and cell line. By examining flux of drugs through these cultures or by examining the effects of drugs on proliferation or apoptosis within the cultures, quantitative assessments can be made of the ability of a drug to distribute in tumour tissue.

 

 

Teaching Interest

  • Radiation biology is a rarely taught discipline with enormous socioeconomic importance. Public understanding of the nature of ionizing radiation, its uses in medicine and its dangers to the public are woefully inadequate and result in media misrepresentation and public skepticism to official announcements when radiation related accidents occur. Through my lectures I attempt to provide a balanced picture of the importance of ionizing radiation to society and via a basic understanding of the effects of ionizing radiation on DNA, cells and tissues provide students with the tools to interpret radiation risk and the beneficial effects such as diagnostic tools and cancer treatment.
  • Radiation biology is a rarely taught discipline with enormous socioeconomic importance. Public understanding of the nature of ionizing radiation, its uses in medicine and its dangers to the public are woefully inadequate and result in media misrepresentation and public skepticism to official announcements when radiation related accidents occur. Through my lectures I attempt to provide a balanced picture of the importance of ionizing radiation to society and via a basic understanding of the effects of ionizing radiation on DNA, cells and tissues provide students with the tools to interpret radiation risk and the beneficial effects such as diagnostic tools and cancer treatment.