Melissa Evans

Melissa Evans is developing imaging tools for tracking personalized cancer fighting cells.


1. Who are you? Tell us about yourself.

My name is Melissa Evans, and I’m a first-year Masters’s student in Medical Biophysics at the Robarts Research Institute under the supervision of Dr. John Ronald. I previously got my Bachelor of Science at the University of Waterloo in Honours Biotechnology/ Economics co-op. During which, I also spent two co-op terms in the Ronald lab.

2. Why is the TBCRU Studentship Award important to you? 

The TBCRU Studentship Award is important because it allows me to dedicate more of my time to what really matters in my project, focusing on the research. I was honoured to be a recipient of this award along with the other exceptional trainees all working towards the same goal in so many different areas of the field. Although the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more difficult, I hope to share my work and educate people on the current research at the various Breast Cancer Society of Canada events.

3. Tell us about your research. What are you doing and what problems do you hope to solve? 

My project involves developing imaging tools for tracking personalized cancer-fighting cells. A new type of treatment called Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy involves sampling a patient’s immune cells (T cells) and taking them into the lab to modify them with a CAR. This CAR gives the T cells the ability to target and kill breast cancer cells once transplanted back into the patient. A lot of excitement surrounds the use of CAR T cells for many types of cancer, including breast cancer, but two limitations are their safety and our inability to know where the CAR-T cells are going in the body after they are delivered back to the patient. My project uses a unique approach to modify these cells with special imaging markers, which will allow us to track the CAR-T cells with different imaging machines such as positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I will then test our cells in pre-clinical models of breast cancer to see how well we can visualize the cells, where they go in the body over time, and how well they treat breast cancer.

4. Why is your research important? How can your research be applied in the real world? 

My work is important because it could lead to a safe way of editing the T cells to create a novel, sensitive and specific method to image and track CAR-T treatments. This system would also be used to track and image the cells with widely available medical imaging technologies such as PET and MRI. We hope that these cells will be able to be tracked in the body and effectively kill breast cancer cells, thus providing insights to improve the CAR-T cell therapy in breast cancer patients.

5. What inspired your research? 

Cancer treatments are developing rapidly. Previously, our lab became interested in developing methods for imaging CAR-T cell therapies to inform this treatment progress better. In monitoring the fate of CAR-T cells engineered to fight breast cancer cells, we want to test a new system of editing these cells that poses minimal risk to patients. We are inspired by the opportunity to significantly improve the understanding of how the CAR-T cells are functioning in the patient’s body.

6. Why are you passionate about breast cancer research? 

I have always been curious about science. If someone tells me about a scientific breakthrough that they read about, I want to know how it works. I am always making notes of and looking up unfamiliar things people tell me about. What draws me to this research is that breast cancer as a topic is so complex and challenging. Scientists are constantly discovering new phenomenon about breast cancer that leads to the development of new treatments.

I think most people can say that cancer has touched their life, whether it be a relative or a friend. Cancer has touched the lives of my family and friends more than once and given the opportunity to work on a project that could help breast cancer patients and beyond, I jumped at the chance that what I do could someday help provide insight into treatments and more hope to breast cancer patients.

7. Why do you think breast cancer research matters? 

Advances in cancer treatment don’t always happen in leaps and bounds. It is the daily work of people like me and the other recipients of TBCRU studentship awards that push the field forward. Investing time in breast cancer research to improve different areas of the field, including imaging for therapy tracking or developing new treatments, provides hope and a more positive outlook for those affected by breast cancer.

8. What excites you about your work? 

Knowing that researchers are working around the clock to make progress against breast cancer and improve patient outcomes, it excites me that I get to be a part of that process. The idea that one day my work could help clinicians better understand these treatments and enhance them also motivates me. One of the coolest things to me is that my work could also be altered for different cancer types or imaging different treatments beyond breast cancer and CAR-T cells.

9. What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

In the future, I hope to combine my unique undergraduate degree in biotechnology and economics. I love being involved in multidisciplinary fields and continually pushing myself to learn more from those around me with different expertise. I hope to be able to be involved in the medical biophysics or biotechnology fields, whether it be in research in academia or industry.

10. What do you like to do when you aren’t working on research? 

When I am not doing research, I coach and play ringette and soccer or any sport I can get out and play with friends. My family loves hiking, so when not in COVID times, I try to go on trips with them and explore some new trails! I also love cooking and trying different recipes, usually with my own twist.


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: