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HSIP 2008 Program


HSIP 2008 Interns (Clockwise: Tyler Bugden, David Kim, Tegan Graetz, Linda Brennan)


Gene Mutation Project - Led by Researcher Melanie Olsen

A cell′s response to biological stimuli is through protein−protein interactions. All cells regulate protein expression. When cancer occurs, regulation of the proteins becomes unbalanced and either the proteins become upregulated or downregulated. Upregulated gene expression can lead to a build up of the protein in the cell and, in turn, can bind other proteins and induce even more signaling pathways, possibly leading to increased cell survival. This project will involve mutating an upregulated breast cancer DCIS gene with the goal of preventing further binding with another protein. The end result of the mutation should produce a structural change of the mutated protein and prevent binding.

This project will use molecular biology techniques including PCR, cloning, sequencing and DNA isolation. Once the primary steps are completed, there will be transfection of DNA into mammalian cell lines to confirm disruption of protein binding in vitro.

Monte Carlo Physics Project - Led by Physicist Dr. Isabelle Gagne

An accuracy of 5% in the delivery of absorbed dose is required in radical radiotherapy to achieve tumour control and minimize normal tissue complications. This requirement implies that no more than 2-3% uncertainty is allowed in the treatment planning dose calculations. This is an extremely challenging demand when heterogeneous tissues such as lungs and bones are involved. Presently, the gold standard for 3-dimensional (3-D) dose calculations is Monte Carlo (MC) simulation, in which electron and photon transports in materials are modeled using probability distributions.

A VIRAD grant received in 2003 enabled the acquisition of a 12-node computer cluster to facilitate MC calculations of complex clinical plans at Vancouver Island Center (VIC). The hardware acquired through this grant has been instrumental in creating a software package for MC treatment planning calculations that is capable of efficient re-calculation of clinical intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) plans for dosimetric validation purposes. Recent MC software developments now permit accurate re-calculation of the vast majority of 3-D conformal techniques employed at VIC.

Two concurrent MC projects are proposed for the summer internship program. The first project entails benchmarking the enhanced dynamic wedge component of the Vancouver Island Monte Carlo (VIMC) model. As part of this project, the students will have the opportunity to generate simple plans in the commercial treatment planning system, re-calculate these plans with Monte Carlo and evaluate the results. The second project is more clinical in nature and consists of evaluating the dosimetric accuracy of various breast radiotherapy techniques employed at VIC. For each of the technique under investigation, 10-20 patient plans will be re-calculated with the VIMC model. Dosimetric differences will be quantified for both the planning target volume and the organs at risk using a number of analysis tools.

Meet the Interns

Tyler Bugden - Cowichan Secondary School


Tyler is attending the University of Victoria in the Faculty of Science where I wll be pursuing a Batchelor Degree with a double major in Biology and Psychology. Tyler spends some of his free time volunteering and he likes the feeling of giving back whether it is at my school or in the community.

″ The internship program interested me because of the medical aspect of it and the learning experience. I think that having and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to a cancer free life. ″



Tegan Graetz - Stelly′s Secondary School


Tegan is pursuing her degree in Science at the University of Victoria. She is eager to learn more about research and medicine.

She is a member of the Peninsula Young Performers and spends many hours a week dancing (ballet, jazz, jazz tech, tap, lyrical, modern and musical theater) at Allegro Performing Arts Centre. Her hobbies include snowboarding, wakeboarding, hiking and reading.

Tegan is currently employed part­-time by the Peninsula Co­op and is an active volunteer and fundraiser with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She is a member of the JDRF Youth Council and has served as an ambassador and spokesperson.

″ Tegan considers the internship at the DRC a privileged opportunity to learn more about research and lab work and hopes it will give her insight to a future career in the field of sciences. ″



Linda Brennan - Edward Milne Community School


Linda is attending UVIC this year and taking a variety of courses through the Faculty of Science.

″ I am very excited to start my summer internship, I think it will be a huge confidence booster and allow me to move more comfortably in a lab setting. I am also excited to spend the summer learning from professionals and I think in the long run this experience will give me a head start in pursuing a career in disease research.″



David Kim - Wellington Secondary School


David is currently attending the University of British Columbia and is working towards his bachelors degree in the sciences.

Outside of school, he volunteers at the local hospital and with the Red Cross and is part of the city Youth Council. In addition, David values an active lifestyle and plays on the school golf team and has participated in Taekwondo, attaining his 3rd Degree Black belt as well as assitant teaching and coaching fellow students. During his spare time, David enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing sports, and playing the piano and drums.

″I am interested in the internship program because it has a strong relation to my future goals. I have always had a strong interest in science and medicine and hope to one day pursue a career in the medical world. This program will allow me to experience the research side of medicine first hand and broaden my knowledge of current research techniques. This amazing opportunity will open my eyes to the field of research and medicine while exposing me to the medical world.″