Academic Rank:
Associate Professor
Distinguished Scientist
Affiliation(s):
Short Bio:

Dr. Andrew Minchinton came to Vancouver as a post-doctoral fellow following completion of his PhD studies in radiation biology at the University of London in 1986. Upon completion of his fellowship he took a position as a Staff Scientist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University, ultimately returning to the BC Cancer to establish his own research program. Dr. Minchinton currently works as a Distinguished Scientist in the Department of Integrative Oncology at the BC Cancer Research Centre. He also holds a faculty appointment as a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Minchinton has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and has received patents for his inventions related to systems for growing cell models and for measuring the penetration of drugs and other substances into tissues. Dr. Minchinton has also devoted significant time to providing education regarding ionizing radiation, teaching about its impact on DNA, cells and tissues and also demonstrating how it has great utility when used in clinical diagnostic tools and cancer treatments.

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

Minchinton Lab

Dr. Andrew Minchinton Laboratory is working to address multiple key topics in cancer research. One such area is how the tumour microenvironment can influence the effectiveness of treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. The tumour microenvironment refers to the area occupied by a given collection of tumour cells and all its surrounding cells, vessels, and supporting structures. This microenvironment can have a significant impact not only on how rapidly a tumour can grow and whether it can spread to other parts of the body, but also on whether a given treatment will be effective. For example, the relative amount and arrangement of blood vessels associated with a tumour can affect how chemotherapy targeting that tumour is delivered – and how effective it will ultimately be in killing cancer cells. Dr. Minchinton’s group has developed tools to analyze how effective this delivery is for different drugs in different cancer types.

“Hypoxia” refers generally to a lack of oxygen and can be observed in tumours that are growing so quickly that they are exhausting their oxygen supply. Interestingly, tumour cells that are hypoxic can have relatively lower responsiveness to chemotherapy or radiation. Dr. Minchinton’s group has developed ways to measure tumour oxygen levels and is devising new drugs that can be applied to work against tumour hypoxia and thus increase the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

To address the above cancer research topics, Dr. Minchinton’s team also developed new models of the tumour microenvironment that can be evaluated in a lab setting. These models are three dimensional in nature and can be used to measure changes in the concentration of cellular oxygen or anticancer drugs (thus determining how effectively a given drug is distributed across an entire collection of tumour cells).

The combination of these tools and expertise make the Minchinton lab world leaders in the field of radiation biology research.

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.