August 12, 2019

Dr. Rola Saleeb on her path to becoming a pathologist

Rola Saleeb
Dr. Rola Saleeb, Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto.

OMPRN grantee and former Transformative Pathology Fellow discusses her recently-awarded faculty appointment with the University of Toronto

Despite research advances in identifying the subtypes of kidney cancer, treatment decisions are often based on the size of a patient’s tumour. Dr. Rola Saleeb, who has been studying kidney cancer for nearly a decade, thinks there’s a better way to make these decisions.

“Each month, more than 500 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in Canada,” says Saleeb. “These individuals and their oncologists face tough decisions to make about their treatment options and I want to help make that decision easier.”

Saleeb, a former OICR Transformative Pathology Fellow and two-time Ontario Molecular Pathology Network (OMPRN) grantee, has recently become a certified pathologist and faculty member in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto.

Throughout her doctoral research, Saleeb developed a classification system that could help pathologists distinguish between aggressive kidney cancers and less aggressive cancers. She says this system could, one day, help spare patients from unnecessary surgery if they don’t have aggressive tumours. Additionally, she says classifying these tumours could enable the development of new therapies for these subtypes.

Now as a certified pathologist, Saleeb is the second Transformative Pathology Fellow to have been recruited to a faculty position. Both former fellows have committed to a career where research and development is central to their practice of pathology.

“Not all pathologists do research,” says Saleeb. “But for me, I feel like I can help more patients if I can help find solutions to unsolved problems.”

Saleeb is currently completing a validation study on her classification system. She looks forward to implementing the system at St. Michael’s Hospital and broadening her research to study the molecular origins of kidney cancers and new kidney cancer prevention strategies.

Read more about OMPRN here or find current pathology funding opportunities here.

February 12, 2019

Sometimes the simpler, the better: bringing personalized treatment selection for bladder cancer closer to the clinic 

Pathology slides sit in a tray on a lab bench top.

Pathology experts review challenges and opportunities in treatment selection for muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC), propose traditional pathology method to achieve same results as molecular profiling at lower cost

Research has shown that some types of bladder cancer respond well to treatment and other types are resistant, yet molecular subtyping, which can help better define a patient’s cancer and direct them to a more targeted treatment, is not performed in the clinic. This means that patients are often treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. Despite recent research progress, the movement of MIBC subtyping to the clinic has stagnated.

Continue reading – Sometimes the simpler, the better: bringing personalized treatment selection for bladder cancer closer to the clinic 

January 23, 2019

Powering the future of pathology

Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN) helps establish new training standards for pathologists across Canada

Personalized medicine presents a tremendous opportunity for molecular pathologists to contribute to improvements in detecting, diagnosing and selecting treatments for cancer patients. As new diagnostic and prognostic tools continue to emerge, it is becoming increasingly important for pathologists to engage in cancer research and understand new developments across scientific disciplines. Fostering this engagement begins with education.

OMPRN is championing the advancement of molecular pathology training across Canada through its engagement with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), Canada’s governing body for medical education. Together, they are developing a new curriculum for pathology residents based on competencies – the proficiency or ability to perform a skill – rather than the traditional time-based training approach where residents are evaluated based on the amount of time spent acquiring knowledge or practicing a skill.

Dr. David LeBrun, Principal Investigator at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and Leader of OMPRN.

“The existing competencies around molecular pathology were not adequate in detail, nor were they adequate in rigour,” says Dr. David LeBrun, Principal Investigator at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and Leader of OMPRN. “So we harnessed the opportunity to improve these training standards for the future of pathology in Canada.”

OMPRN developed a list of molecular pathology competencies, priorities and training strategies to inform a new national curriculum. These suggestions were presented to the Anatomical Pathology Specialty Committee of the Royal College, who accepted several of the proposed strategies and recognized OMPRN’s submission as an official Royal College Curricular Document – a curriculum guide for educators.

One of OMPRN’s major contributions to the new curriculum, which is currently being implemented across Canada, was a competency focused on synthesizing a unified, clinically-actionable report based on results from non-traditional diagnostic tests, such as liquid biopsies or genomic profiling. With this ability, pathologists can better inform clinicians while ensuring that there are no opportunities missed in the detection or diagnosis a patient’s disease.

“With proper training, pathologists can play a key role in bringing the benefits of new research discoveries into the patient experience,” says LeBrun. “These competencies will help ensure that treatment decisions in the clinic are well informed by both conventional pathology techniques and novel tools and resources.”

One of the key challenges of competency-based education is that some training centres may not have the expertise to train their residents on highly-specialized skills. OMPRN is working to address the gap in expertise by developing online education materials to complement the molecular pathology competencies and offering training courses like their inaugural Applied Molecular Pathology Course, which was held January 9-10 in Mississauga.

“Our mission is to create a vibrant community of cancer research-oriented pathologists in Ontario,” says LeBrun. “Through our educational initiatives, OMPRN is helping to build the next generation of pathologists and – in turn – driving the future of cancer innovation.”

For more information on the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network, please visit its website.

Learn more about the Royal College’s Competence by Design program in the video below.

September 24, 2018

Breaking down barriers to translation: A case of standardization in digital pathology

Jane Bayani In the lab.

OICR takes part in international multicentre study to standardize promising breast cancer digital pathology test

The Ki67 immunohistochemistry assay is a test that can help evaluate the aggressiveness of breast tumours, predict disease outcomes, monitor cancer progression and identify patients who are more likely to respond to a given therapy. Despite its potential to help patients with breast cancer, the analysis of Ki67 has not been widely adopted in the clinic, mostly due to the lack of standardization across laboratories.

Continue reading – Breaking down barriers to translation: A case of standardization in digital pathology

October 23, 2017

Pathology Matters 2017 unites and informs Ontario’s pathology community

Pathology Matters attendees take part in a group discussion.

In this post, Monique Johnson shares how the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network’s (OMPRN) 2017 Pathology Matters Meeting provided her with new insights into the field and introduced her to Ontario’s molecular pathology community.

Continue reading – Pathology Matters 2017 unites and informs Ontario’s pathology community

September 6, 2017

OICR launches Tissue Portal to support tissue-based research projects

Fu Yan - In the lab.

OICR’s Tissue Portal is a new central entry and exit point for human tissue derived samples handled at OICR. This will serve as a gateway for tissue-based research projects to access over 100 services and resources at OICR being made available through the OICR Collaborative Research Resources on a cost-sharing basis. The Tissue Portal will standardize and streamline the storage, processing and distribution of samples for collaborative research studies at OICR.

Continue reading – OICR launches Tissue Portal to support tissue-based research projects

June 7, 2017

New grant program boosts molecular pathology research in Ontario

Two lab technicians work in a lab.

The Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN) recently awarded $675,000 of funding to support molecular cancer pathology research in Ontario. The 11 funded projects will involve 22 investigators and seven trainees and address clinically-relevant questions in bladder, brain, breast, endometrial, cervical, renal, pediatric and hematological cancers. The 26 applications that were submitted for review demonstrate the high quality and rich diversity of cancer pathology research in the province. Please visit the Funded Projects page for more information.

OMPRN’s mission is to enhance molecular pathology research capacity across the province by fostering collaboration and cooperation between Ontario academic pathologists, increasing the participation of pathologists in high-quality translational cancer research, and providing opportunities for residents, fellows and early career pathologists to obtain training and mentorship in cancer research. In line with these objectives, all of the research projects funded through OMPRN’s Pathology Translational Research Grants (CPTRG) program are led by pathologists, address questions of clear relevance to cancer care and incorporate important elements of transdisciplinary collaboration and mentorship. Trainees and early career researchers involved in these projects will be supported in their research through attending regular meetings of OICR’s Pathology Club.

The next round of the CPTRG program will be announced in the fall of 2017. Information may be found here: https://ontariomolecularpathology.ca/research-funding

November 23, 2016

OICR and OMPRN celebrate International Pathology Day with educational events

A technician works in OICR pathology lab

On November 16 OICR and the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN) joined other organizations around the world celebrating International Pathology Day.

Continue reading – OICR and OMPRN celebrate International Pathology Day with educational events

November 16, 2016

International Pathology Day 2016

A pathology researcher looks at a slide.

Today is International Pathology Day. Around the world and here in Ontario events will be held to raise awareness of the field and its contributions to modern medicine. The work of the Transformative Pathology Program, coupled with the launch of the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN), has made for a very successful year thus far for OICR’s efforts in pathology research. Here are some of the highlights. Continue reading – International Pathology Day 2016

November 4, 2016

Beyond the crime scene: You don’t have to be dead to need a pathologist

Cafe Scientifique banner

Dr. John Bartlett, from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and Dr. Michelle Downes, from Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, will take you into a world of pathology beyond crime scene investigation and into puzzles more complex than an escape room. They will talk about the future of pathology and how this is changing the face of medicine and why a pathologist is considered ‘the doctor’s doctor’.

The Duke of York Pub – November 16, 6-8 p.m.
39 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto
near St. George subway station

Register at Eventbrite >

October 28, 2016

Pathology Matters: One attendee’s reflections on OMPRN’s first gathering of Ontario pathologists

OMPRN Logo

Dr. Matt Cecchini was one of many pathologists and researchers, including 21 trainees, to attend the inaugural Pathology Matters meeting hosted by the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN). In this post he covers what he learned at the meeting, where the field is going and how that impacts his training and research.

Continue reading – Pathology Matters: One attendee’s reflections on OMPRN’s first gathering of Ontario pathologists

October 27, 2016

OICR’s Transformative Pathology Program contributes to recent PanCuRx findings

Ilinca Lungu, a Research Technician in OICR’s Transformative Pathology Program, talks about her group’s contributions to recent findings from the PanCuRx Translational Research Initiative.

Access to the Transformative Pathology Program’s resources and expertise is available to the research community through Diagnostic Development in OICR’s Collaborative Research Resources Directory. For more information about how you can access these services, visit oicr.on.ca/collaborative-research-resources.

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