Sean McRae

Meet the Researcher: Sean McRae


Breast Cancer Society of Canada Written Blog Post Questionnaire 2022: Sean McRae

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself (i.e. name, current degree program/department, supervisor/lab, previous education/experience etc.).
My name is Sean McRae, and I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Medical Biophysics at Western University under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Scholl and Dr. John Ronald. I previously completed a bachelor’s degree in Medical and Biological Physics at McMaster University where I carried out a research project aimed at implementing new non- invasive imaging tools into radiotherapy procedures for breast cancer patients.

2. Why is the TBCRU Studentship Award important to you, and how does it advance your research?
This is my second year receiving the TBCRU award, and it has continued to be a very important part of my research. The TBCRU Studentship Award directly funds my time spent in the lab doing research, and gives me a great platform to share and communicate my research. I am very thankful to be part of this amazing group for another year. 3. What is the objective of your research project and what problem(s) you hope to solve? My project aims to develop improved imaging technology to advance the study of breast cancer metastases in preclinical models. Animal models play a large role in the development of novel therapeutics before they are applied in the clinic.

4. In a few lines, please describe your research project.
I am continuing my work on a system for tracking breast cancer cells using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a powerful clinical imaging modality that gives detailed three- dimensional information in soft tissues. For MRI to be as effective in seeing small structures (such as clusters of 1000 cells) as it is with larger structures (entire organs), our lab has developed a tool that uses cell engineering to increase the visibility of cells using MRI. This is made possible through the engineering of cells to express a gene called OATP1B3. This gene allows cells to take up and retain an MRI contrast agent. We are currently investigating new and improved contrast agents which will allow for detection of smaller numbers of engineered cancer cells. We hope that with this effective and non-invasive cellular monitoring system, we will be able to follow breast cancer as it metastasizes in our animal models so that we can better understand the metastatic process and ultimately use this imaging technology for the assessment of novel treatments of metastatic disease.

5. Have there been any changes to or any advancements in your research since your project began?
Over the last year, I have made great progress on this project. Last year, we worked with our collaborators to develop five novel contrast agents that were specifically designed to be retained by our engineered cells, and we tested these new agents in cell experiments. This year, we have continued our experiments in animal models using specialized imaging hardware that we constructed in-house for these experiments. We are wrapping up our final experiments now and hope to publish this work in a few months.

6. Have you had an opportunity to present (or publish) your research to your peers or the broader research community? Was it at a national or international meeting or in some other way?
Despite some delays due to COVID-19, I am happy to say that I have had the opportunity to share my research to the broader research community. I am a co-author on a research paper that investigated tracking breast cancer metastases using MRI where I contributed to some of the image analysis. For my own research, I have given an oral presentation at the Imaging Network of Ontario’s annual meeting in March 2022, and I am excited to be presenting my research at the Future of Molecular MR, an international conference in Pasadena this summer!

7. If you received feedback following your presentation, how has it helped you and your research?
Hearing feedback following my presentations often sparks new ideas and generates new avenues for our group to explore. I am looking forward to in-person conferences where discussions like this can be held over coffee, often leading to new collaborations with other research groups with complementary ideas and capabilities!

8. How will your research be applied in the clinic or in a real-world setting? How will patients benefit from the results of your work?
The spread of cancer can often go undetected. My work aims to develop a system that can track the fate of breast cancer over time, to allow us to study the disease at early stages. To accomplish this, we need better tools that allow us to visualize biological events. In the short term, we are focused on refining our imaging technique to allow for the most sensitive non- invasive detection of breast cancer lesions. With the tools that we are developing, we hope to be able to track the fate of our engineered cells in response to various immunotherapies against breast cancer.

9. Tell us about your involvement in the Breast Cancer Society of Canada fundraising events (Dress for the Cause, Mother's Day Walk).
I have enjoyed participating in the Breast Cancer Society of Canada’s fundraising events, particularly the One Billion Steps Challenge and the Million Steps to Mother’s Day. This has been a great way for me to get my steps in while raising money for a great cause. I look forward to participating again in future events!

10. What are your hobbies? What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to outside of the lab?
Outside of the lab, I love to play my guitar in my band, Hyde Park. We are currently recording some new music that we are excited to release! This year, I also started volunteering with an organization called GTA Instrumentors that aims to remove barriers to music education. In this program, I get to mentor students for 10-week periods and help them learn the guitar.

How to

Support an Event

Make a contribution to a fundraiser being held in support of Breast Cancer Canada. You can search for the organization or person you wish to support; or click on the event name to make a general donation to the Raise More initiative of your choice.

How to


Thinking about becoming a corporate partner of Breast Cancer Canada? Amazing. We work with all types of organizations. We’ll help you deliver results which are measurable. National or local.

A partnership with Breast Cancer Canada is a win-win. It improves employee engagement, boosts morale, fosters a tighter culture. It raises your organization’s profile and demonstrates your support for breast cancer research. To customers. To employees. To suppliers. Most of all – it makes a positive impact for those affected directly by breast cancer.

We’ll raise money for life-saving breast cancer research, together.

Let’s talk about building your program!

Contact Charlene Politano today to get started.
Phone: 1-800-567-8767 or 416-352-8567

To make an online corporate donation, please click here.

If you would like to explore other ways to give, we invite you to learn more.

How to


Join the Raise More Challenge

The more money we raise, the sooner we can end breast cancer. The more time researchers have in the lab. The more technology they can use. The more support we can get. Advancements in early detection and personalized treatment are in reach, and with your help to raise funds, we can find a cure sooner.

There are many ways to fundraise – whether you want to create a competition or tournament, fundraise with your team, challenge your colleagues, host a pink party, have a bake sale or cook-off, the idea is to raise more for breast cancer research.

Breast Cancer Canada will empower you with all the tools you need for a successful fundraiser, and if you need more information, contact Dawn Hamilton at:  

I am a

Corporate Donor

Support life-saving breast cancer research. A corporate donation is a simple and efficient way to demonstrate your corporate support.

To make a one-time or reoccurring corporate donation online, please click here.

Learn more about

How to Sponsor

Thinking about becoming a corporate partner of Breast Cancer Canada? Amazing. work with all types of organizations. We’ll help you deliver results which are measurable. National or local.

A partnership with Breast Cancer Canada is a win-win. It improves employee engagement, boosts morale, fosters a tighter culture. It raises your organization’s profile and demonstrates your support for breast cancer research. To customers. To employees. To suppliers. Most of all – it makes a positive impact for those affected directly by breast cancer.

We’ll raise money for life-saving breast cancer research, together.

Let’s talk about building your program!

Contact Dawn Hamilton today to get started.
Phone: 1-800-567-8767 

To make an online corporate donation, please click here.

I am a

Legacy Donor

Over the last 30 years, many generous donors have left a legacy to Breast Cancer Canada in efforts to advance breast cancer research.

No matter what the form of your gift, you will be remembered by your legacy which will live on through each of the lives you touch with your gift.

Learn more about

Legacy donor

Leave a legacy. Plan for a future gift.

  • Leave a gift in your will
  • Donating a life insurance policy
  • Donate a TFSA, RRSP, or RRIF

Support Breast Cancer Canada with a future gift to create a better future for breast cancer patients. Your gift helps to save lives through early detection and improve outcomes with better treatments.

or more information, please contact:


This is often called a bequest. It’s the simplest way to make a legacy gift. A gift in your will has no effect on your current income and your estate receives a charitable donation tax receipt. Here’s a sample of simple bequest wording : “To pay the sum of $_________ OR _______% of the residue of my estate to Breast Cancer Canada.”


Life insurance is a way to provide financial security for your family. If the needs of your family are already taken care of, a life insurance policy is a smart way to donate to charity including tax savings for your estate. Speak to your financial advisors for your personalized advice and learn how a gift of life insurance can work for you. Here’s the top-line on ways of leaving gifts of life insurance:

Bequeath your policy to Breast Cancer Canada for the future:

  • Name Breast Cancer Canada as the beneficiary of your policy. BCC will receive your insurance proceeds tax-free. Your estate will receive a donation receipt.

Transfer ownership of a paid-up policy to Breast Cancer Canada now:

  • Want to gift us your existing, paid-up policy right now? Make Breast Cancer Canada the beneficiary and owner of your policy. You will receive a donation receipt for the fair market value of the policy. BCC may redeem the policy now, or hold it and receive the face value in the future – however your gift can be put to best use.

Transfer ownership of a policy on which premiums are still owing to BCC now:

  • Premiums still owing? You can still opt to transfer your policy ownership to BCC. You’ll receive a donation receipt for the policy’s fair market value. Want to make it an ongoing gift? Transfer the ownership to BCC, and still continue to pay the premiums owing. You’ll receive donation receipts for those payments too.


Register a significant difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer. Donate the proceeds of a registered account: Tax-free savings account (TFSA); Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP); Registered retirement income fund (RRIF). It’s a smart way to make a major contribution. Without reducing your current assets. Without subjecting the funds to probate fees. While reducing taxes on your estate through a donation receipt.

Making a gift like this is easy. Designate Breast Cancer Canada as the beneficiary of your registered account.  You benefit from the full use of your account(s) during your lifetime. We receive any remaining funds after your passing.

For more information, contact:

I am a

Individual Donor

When you support Breast Cancer Canada, you are helping to improve and save lives through better treatments and early detection of breast cancer.

Learn more about

Gifting securities

Donating securities is becoming more popular, and supports Breast Cancer Canada just like cash donations. Gifts of publicly traded securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds) are an easy, tax-effective way to make a contribution towards life-saving research that helps with early detection, better treatments, and ultimately  Securities can be of any size and given immediately, or you can bequeath them to Breast Cancer Canada in your will. Just like a cash donation, you’ll get a donation tax credit for your gift of securities.

Today, most securities are held electronically and are easily transferred from your brokerage account to our BCC brokerage account. Your Financial Advisor can make all the arrangements.

For more information, contact:

Send e-cards in memory or honour

Bravery is beautiful. That’s why we encourage you to make a donation in honour of a loved one’s own experience with breast cancer. With your donation, we’ll send a email to acknowledge the dedication to the individual or family.

Make a donation with  eCard by dedicating your donation:

Let’s get started

Corporate matching

Multiply the impact of your donation

Fact: thousands of companies will match donations made by employees.

It’s true, and it’s very generous. Want to know if your company will match your donation to BCC? Use the search tool below. It also has access to all the forms, guidelines, and instructions you need to submit a company-matchable gift donation today.

Search Tool

Monthly Giving

Support life-saving breast cancer research every month of the year.


When you make a monthly contribution to Breast Cancer Canada, you provide stable funding for year-round campaigning and allow us to continue to support research projects across Canada.


To join, simply pre-authorize a monthly deduction from your credit card.

  1. Online:  Donate Now
  2. By Phone: Sign up as a monthly donor by calling Toll Free: 1-800-567-8767
  3. By Mail

Breast Cancer Canada, National Office
415 Exmouth Street Unit # 101
Sarnia, ON N7T 8A4

You will need to provide us the credit card type, number and expiry date, and the amount you would like to give each month.

How to


Volunteers are Breast Cancer Canada’s most important resource, and the backbone of our organization. From helping build our PROgress research to helping breast cancer patients, to supporting events, special fundraising projects and administrative tasks, our volunteers are dedicated to making a positive, life-changing impact.

We ensure our volunteers have the best possible experience and apply the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement.

You can help us end breast cancer by:

  • Volunteering with one of our fundraising campaigns. Or a BCC signature event
  • Helping with local community events where you live
  • Joining our PROgress research at a local hub
  • Assisting us with virtual office tasks

Learn more about our volunteer driven Regional Hubs.

Regional Hubs are an integral part of Breast Canada Canada. We connect communities and those committed to our mission to make the goal local. Together, we can save lives through advancing breast cancer research, coast to coast.

Connect to learn more about what is happening in your area: