Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mansbridge One on One: Cancer Research at University of Toronto

Back to Toronto after a long internship in US, I'm re-discovering the few Canadian shows I like watching on TV. Mansbridge One on One runs on Saturday nights for half an hour. The show features interviews with renowned personalities from all walks of life. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Bill Gates were among the guests on the show. 

Last night's show was quite surprising. The guest was Dr. Shana Kelley, professor at University of Toronto. A multidisciplinary research group lead by Dr. Kelley developed a microchip that can scan molecules and determine the type and the severity of cancer. The prototype was already tested on several types of cancer. Dr. Kelley anticipates a five year period until the device can be used in clinics for early cancer detection. You can read more about this on the UofT news website

Dr. Kelley moved to UofT from US in 2006 and was surprised to see that obtaining funding for this project was easier in Canada than in US. Since she got to Toronto, the project took off with support from different governmental agencies. On the other hand, she mentioned that getting funding for basic/initial research steps is not as easy. She emphasized that lack of funding for fundamental research precludes breakthroughs later on. This funding issue is a chicken-and-egg problem: you can't get funding if you don't have a promising project going on, but it's hard to get (any) research going without funding. 

As a fun note, Dr. Kelley moved to Canada as a result of a two-body problem :) 

Update: You can find the recording of this show online here.