Research Highlight

These are the four MR image types that will be analyzed in this study. These are all from the same brain, but each imaging sequence weights signal intensities differently. T1-contrast highlights enhancing tumor if it takes up the injected contrast agent. T2-FLAIR suppresses normal cerebral fluid signal, so abnormalities are more clearly delineated. In this case, the tumor is not contrast-enhancing, but it is FLAIR-enhancing. DWI highlights areas of restricted fluid diffusion, shown as the bright circle in the right side of the brain. DSC-CBV is a post-processed cerebral blood volume map that shows where there is the greatest density of blood in the brain, based on the passage of a contrast bolus. (Image source:

Assessing the reproducibility of MRI-based brain tumor measurements between both observers and MRI vendors

My project will focus on assessing MRI measurement reproducibility in patients with oligodendroglioma. Oligodendrogliomas derive from oligodendrocytes, a glial cell that protects neurons in the central nervous system. Since oligodendroglioma is a relatively slow-growing cancer, neuro-oncologists refrain from surgery in favor of a “watchful waiting” tactic based on imaging results. Brain tumors are measured according to the Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology (RANO) criteria. Radiologists measure the product of the two longest perpendicular diameters of the tumor visible in the post-contrast T1-weighted MR slice in which the tumor is found to be of the largest size. Tumor size is monitored from the start of treatment through each subsequent imaging session, and is then classified into one of four response categories based on relative size change: complete response, partial response, stable disease, or progressive disease. However, there is significant variability in patients’ tumor size measurements, arising from intra- and inter-observer variability and scanner differences. The aim of this project is to define the observer and scanner variability in quantitative tumor biomarkers based on perfusion, diffusion, and anatomical MRI. Multiple readers will analyze axial MR slices from oligodendroglioma patients with each of the following parameters: post-contrast T1-weighted, FLAIR T2-weighted, DWI-ADC, and DSC-CBV. The readers will measure the lesions in the same images at two different time points to assess intra-observer variability. We hypothesize that intra-/inter-observer and intra-/inter-scanner variability will not affect assessment of the oligodendroglioma progression as defined by RANO. This project will establish baseline variances in tumor measurements so that researchers can better classify tumor volume change as either genuine tumor response/progression or simply measurement variance.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Assessment of neoadjuvant therapy-induced atherosclerotic changes using ferumoxytol-enhanced MR imaging

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Nanoencapsulation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and their effects on pathway inhibition

Co-delivery of protective substrate and chemotherapy drugs via lipid Bilayer Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Injectable thermogelling cisplatin-loaded hydrogels for combined chemo-radiation therapy in cervical cancer

Surface-targeting, ligand-switching nanoparticles for mitochondrial drug delivery in prostate cancer

Pharmacokinetic analysis of changes in temozolomide distribution after antiangiogenic treatment of glioblastoma

Protein-encapsulated nanoparticles for oral delivery of anti-mitotic agents in prostate cancer

Use of a Triblock Copolymer Hydrogel for Controlled Release of Cisplatin and BMN-673

Iron-chelating PEG-like nanoprobes as therapeutic and 89Zr/PET imaging agents

Co-delivery of antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors to overcome chemoresistance

Mechanistic and modeling studies of lipid nanoemulsions impact on oral lapatinib absorption

Software with built-in neuroanatomy atlas provides insight into cancer treatment

Online monitoring and image-guided treatment of chemoresistant micrometastases

T1-weighted imaging of primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma using magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles

Longitudinal assessment of tumor heterogeneity during immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma

Implementation of novel MR-based attenuation correction in PET/MR pelvic scans

Radiation enhancement in cancer cells using gold and gadolinium nanoparticles

Localized chemo- and chemo-radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer

miRNA analysis in mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. (Proj 2) The inhibition of PD-L1 on a Pan02 cell line w/ siRNA-nanodrug & gemcitabine treatment

Uptake and localization of nanoparticles in prostate and lung cancer cells as a function of time and nanoparticle type

Assessing the reproducibility of MRI-based brain tumor measurements between both observers and MRI vendors

Clinical immunotherapy application in metastatic glioblastoma

Erythropoietin improves antitumor immune response through reversal of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment

Quantification of SPION accumulation in tumors using positive-contrast MRI

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award