My name is Justin Michael and I’m an MESc candidate studying in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under Dr. Aaron Fenster in the Robarts Research Institute.
Just weeks after Canada’s 150th birthday, complete with fireworks and concerts, I travelled to our nation’s capital to present at a scientific conference on a distinctly Canadian project. I presented technology to improve the accuracy of a relatively new breast cancer treatment. Pioneered at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital, the treatment implants radioactive “seeds” in the patient’s breast, delivering personalized radiation from the inside-out in a single visit. It replaces the weeks-long standard approach of delivering radiation from the outside-in, reducing the burden of treatment to the patient. Using ultrasound imaging and simple robotics, we’ve developed tools to help doctors implant the seeds more easily and more accurately.
Working under Dr. Aaron Fenster in London’s Robarts Research Institute, we’ve collaborated closely with clinicians and researchers at the cancer center in Kelowna, BC. Their center serves patients from throughout the BC interior, some of whom travel up to 350 km for treatment, making shorter radiation especially important. In addition to partnering with researchers in Canada’s West, the research builds on previous technology developed with physicists at Quebec’s Laval University in Canada’s East.
In Ottawa, I showed the tools we’ve built are nearly ready. Our next step is testing on surgical simulators developed at the University of Calgary before moving into clinical trials.
Through research touching four provinces and three time-zones, we’re working to improve options for patients battling breast cancer. Though the Canada Day fireworks have come and gone, researchers in London and across the country still have plenty to celebrate.
Thank you to the BCSC for their support.
Justin Michael, MESc Candidate