CIHR Fellow: Kenneth Tichauer

Kenneth Tichauer, a third-year Research Associate in the Optics in Medicine Laboratory, was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) during the 2011-12 academic year. Ken’s research project, Imaging HER2 receptor binding in breast during the course of therapy with dual-agent fluorescence, was ranked 3rd out of the 400 applicants who applied for the funding opportunity. Ken received his bachelors of science in Biophysics from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and his PhD in Medical Biophysics from the University of Western Ontario (UWO).

The research fellowship of $100,000, which is distributed over a two year period, has allowed Ken to develop a non-invasive method for measuring the distribution of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)—an important molecular target in breast cancer therapy—across the tissue of a tumor. Prior research has connected both the aggressiveness of a breast cancer tumor and its resistance to chemotherapy to the concentration of HER2 in vivo, but the biopsies used to measure the concentration of HER2 only sampled a small section of these tumors. The CIHR Postdoctoral fellowship is now allowing Ken to map the distribution of HER2 across breast cancer tumors using fluorescence molecular imaging.

Currently, Ken is expanding the methodology that he developed in his examination of HER2 in breast cancer to develop a method to non-invasively determine metastatic tumor burden in sentinel lymph nodes. Ken hopes that his application of this methodology will one day yield a non-invasive test using fluorescent imaging to optically examine a lymph node and determine whether it contains cancerous cells before removing it surgically.