Dr. Sara Rapic

Current title:
Postdoctoral Fellow

  • PhD in Medical Sciences, Molecular Imaging Centre Antwerp, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences/Molecular Imaging, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences, University of Hasselt, Belgium

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network

Dr. Sara Rapic studied at the University of Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium) where she completed her master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, with a specialty in Molecular Imaging. She performed her master’s thesis at the Max-Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne, Germany, where she continued working as a Research Assistant for 2 years. She received her doctorate in Medical Sciences from the University of Antwerp in 2017 and joined the DaCosta lab in as a postdoctoral fellow.

Tumor hypoxia develops due to uncontrollable cell proliferation, altered metabolism, and abnormal tumor blood vessels resulting in reduced transport of oxygen and nutrients to the tumor and its microenvironment. It is one of the main features of solid tumors and was shown to correlate with poor prognosis of cancer patients. Using optically-enabled intravital imaging techniques in transparent window chamber animal models, my research aims to develop a better understanding of tumor hypoxia and methods of measuring it to help to predict patients’ outcome as well as identify patients who could benefit from hypoxia-targeted treatments. My translationally-driven projects are looking at both pancreatic cancer (funded by the Terry Fox Research Institute), a cancer with a very low survival rate, and acute myeloid leukemia, a blood-born cancer we don’t know much about when it comes to hypoxia (funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada).

We have transfected pancreatic cancer cells and acute myeloid leukemia cancer cells to express mCherry only (red, top) or mCherry and GFP, driven by a hypoxia-response element (HRE, green, bottom). Representative fluorescent and differential interference contrast images show that there is a low level of GFP positive cells under normoxic conditions, while almost all cells become GFP positive under hypoxic conditions. Cells were incubated under normoxic or hypoxic (1% O2) conditions for 24h prior to imaging and GFP/mCherry ratio was measured to indicate the proportion of hypoxic cells (bar chart).

Intraoperative Fluorescence Imaging with Aminolevulinic Acid Detects Grossly Occult Breast Cancer: a Phase II Randomized Controlled Trial (Conference Presentation)

838 680 DaCosta Lab

Ottolino-Perry K, Shahid A, DeLuca S, Son V, Liu Z, Rapic S, Thalanki Anantha NWang S, Chamma E, Blackmore K, Gibson C, Medeiros PJ, Majeed S, Chu A, Pizzolato A, Rosen CF, Lindvere-Teene L, Dunham D, Kulbatski I, Panzarella T, Done SJ, Easson AM, Leong WL, DaCosta RS; Proc. SPIE 11070, 17th International Photodynamic Association World Congress, 110701Y (14 August 2019)


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