DaCosta Lab attends WMIC 2020 virtually
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The DaCosta lab attended this year’s World Molecular Imaging Conference from October 6-9, 2020, held virtually. Each year, the WMIC bridges a range of disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. This year WMIC focused on bridging the core disciplines of Molecular Imaging and Biology. The outcome was a cutting-edge program that merged early discovery with clinical translation. Albeit virtual, the program included not only presentations from scientists around the world showcasing how their programs pushed the boundaries of science to advance new discoveries in healthcare (with Plenary Sessions, Spotlight Sessions, Workshops and over 400 poster presentation), but also several…

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Helen Jin receives the Women in Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) Scholar’s Award
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Master’s student Helen Jin takes home the Women in Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) Scholar’s Award this year at the World Molecular Imaging Congress. She was selected for this award based on the scientific merit of her submitted abstract on “Elucidating the Role of Hypoxia and CXCR4 on Acute Myeloid Leukemia Pathogenicity Using Intravital Imaging“. Well done, Helen!

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DaCosta and Minden Labs Awarded CIHR Grant
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Drs. Ralph DaCosta and Mark Minden have been awarded a 4-year CIHR Project Grant to identify new treatment options for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).   AML is a disease of the bone marrow (BM) that spreads throughout the bones of affected patients. Interactions between AML cells and its surroundings play important protective and promotive functions in leukemia growth, maintenance, and spread. Current laboratory experimental systems are not yet able to recapitulate this dynamic relationship outside of the body, and animal studies cannot visualize the changes in AML progression until death of the animal. Such methodologies are blind to important aspects…

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Thesis animation on the Femur Window Chamber method
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Su Min Suh, a candidate of the MScBMC program at UofT, has completed her Masters’ Research Project on the window chamber method as a novel intravital approach of cellular imaging. The animation was created to spread awareness of the window chamber method and to provide a new, effective mode of communication to describe the CXCR4/SDF1 axis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. To complete this project, Su performed literature reviews and media audits on the topic. She then proceeded to script, storyboard, and animate 2D motion graphics and 3D visualizations to effectively communicate the story. Su’s animation includes high-end 3D visualizations, using…

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Helen Jin awarded Ontario-wide and University of Toronto scholarships
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Congratulations to Helen Jin, who was recently awarded with the prestigious Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), valued at $15,000 and spread over 3 sessions. She has additionally been awarded the following two University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine awards: 1) The David RAE Graduate Student Scholarship, awarded to one student from the Faculty of Medicine studying in the areas of leukemia and lymphoma. The award totals $5,900 for one year. 2) The Sona Naran PANCHA Graduate Award in Leukemia Research, awarded to one student from the Faculty of Medicine demonstrates excellence and outstanding achievement in the area of leukemia research. The…

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ORT Times features DaCosta lab trainees
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The UHN Office of Research Trainees (ORT) Times is a monthly e-newsletter for UHN trainees that features articles about trainee life, tips on career development, and research training opportunities within and outside of UHN. Partly supported by an ORT Travel Award, Dr. Sara Rapic and Christopher Gibson attended the 12th World Molecular Imaging Conference and 5th Canadian Cancer Research Conference, respectively. Their respective conference reports were featured in the ORT Times’ May and June editions, go and read about their experiences!  

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Research Restart Update
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In alignment with the Government of Ontario’s phased approach for relaxing its emergency measures, the University Health Network has commenced a phased return to research during the coming months in a manner that puts the health and safety of our community at the forefront. UHN’s Research Restart Committe is working within a framework developed by a Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) Research Committee Working Group to ensure a harmonized approach for restarting research across Toronto-area hospitals and the University of Toronto. At the DaCosta lab, our goal is to resume our suspended onsite research activities to the greatest extent possible,…

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COVID-19 Update
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During the outbreak of COVID-19, the DaCosta lab has temporarily halted research projects. Clinical trials will resume when hospital clinics have resumed normal operation. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the lab at More information on the COVID-19 pandemic at the University Health Network can be found here. Our team will be assisting the amazing UHN hospital staff as much as possible during this time by volunteering for screening and other services. Stay Safe!

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Congratulations to Safa Majeed!
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We would like to congratulate Safa Majeed on her acceptance into the prestigious MD/PhD Program at the University of Toronto. Safa was a devoted summer student in our lab from 2013 all through 2018, joining our research activities with much enthusiasm and dedication. Starting this fall, she will be training to become a physician scientist, which will prepare her for both highly competitive and productive research and clinical practice. We wish Safa much success in her future training and career!

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Collaboration with Dr. Michael Taylor
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Collaborations are a cornerstone of the DaCosta lab. Recently, we have joined forces with Dr. Michael Taylor (SickKids) to study medulloblastoma spread to the brain and spinal cord by providing innovative in vivo optical imaging platforms. Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on the molecular genetics of medulloblastoma and ependymoma, two of the most common malignant paediatric brain tumours. Through a better understanding of the molecular biology of these tumours, his lab has made great strides to devise novel, more effective treatment strategies. We are excited to contribute our intravital imaging expertise to the research of this critical disease affecting children’s health globally.

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