Webinar: Trainee Research: Using Population Cohorts to Enable Early Cancer Detection

Posted April 18, 2022

May 25, 2022
12:00 pm
to 1:00 pm

About the Webinar:

Personalized medicine holds tremendous potential to improve patient care through the tailoring of medical interventions to an individual’s unique genetic makeup and life history. One of the most exciting applications of personalized medicine is the potential to identify people at risk of developing disease years before they are in a doctor’s office needing treatment. As CanPath follows people over decades, some participants who provided a biosample at the time of study enrollment will later develop a disease. Using biologic samples collected before the onset or detection of a disease, researchers can look for early genetic and molecular markers that suggest whether someone might be at a greater risk of disease, thus enabling a novel window of opportunity for earlier diagnoses and more targeted interventions.

CanPath is being used by researchers across Canada to understand the etiology of cancer years prior to clinical diagnosis. In this webinar, two Ontario-based trainees will illustrate how CanPath data and biologics, coupled with linked clinical outcomes can be used to identify biological signatures associated with increased cancer risk and, subsequently, develop novel early diagnostic tools able to identify cancer years prior to clinical onset.

Nicholas Cheng provided an overview of his study on identifying early cancer biomarkers in pre-diagnosis blood samples collected from CanPath participants. He demonstrated how we can utilize blood signatures to detect breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers years prior to clinical detection using cfDNA methylation profiles.

Kimberly Skead provided an overview of her work studying how the interacting evolutionary pressures acting on somatic mutations in blood can be used to predict progression to blood cancer in large population cohorts such as the European Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study and the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health project.

About the Presenters:

Nicholas Cheng

Nicholas Cheng is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Cancer research. He completed his BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Imperial College London prior to joining the Awadalla lab where he is currently developing predictive models that incorporate cell-free DNA molecular signatures for early cancer detection and treatment monitoring.

Kimberly Skead

Kimberly Skead is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research where she is developing tools to identify patients at risk of cancer and heart disease. She completed a BSc at Trinity College in the University of Toronto where she studied Global Health and Genome Biology. Kimberly is the National Scientific Coordinator of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health, the Program Coordinator for the Canadian Data Integration Centre and the co-founder and co-leader of the Ontario Rising Stars in Cancer Research Network. Kimberly is a managing fellow and a case study mentor with the Reach Alliance, having investigated the mechanisms employed to increase birth registration rates in post-Apartheid South Africa. She is the recipient of the Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Masters and Doctoral Scholarships from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Cecil Yip Doctoral Research Award.