Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Medical Biophysics Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Research Opportunities

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Medical biophysics will take you to the next level of learning and experience. You will be immersed in the exciting real world of research in your third and fourth year. You will work in wet and dry labs and collaborate with graduate students and receive direct mentorship from faculty.

During your research experiences you will integrate what you have learned in the classroom to address some of the world’s most challenging diseases.

In your third year, you will participate in an eight-week project and prepare a thesis report and present your results in a seminar. Your research experience during fourth year will take place throughout the entire year. Your project will be more in-depth and you will have the opportunity to make a number of presentations and write a comprehensive thesis report.

Research Opportunities

There are so many areas of research to choose from. Faculty work out of labs on campus, at two research institutes and in the three teaching hospitals.

Cancer Research

If you are interested in cancer research, you might work with faculty focused on cancer imaging. This research involves the design, development and testing of new approaches to medical imaging for diagnosis, treatment selection, therapy guidance and cancer response assessment for cancer patients. Projects may range from development of new medical imaging hardware, innovative ways to program the hardware to obtain unprecedented images of health and disease and the development of intelligent software systems to maximize the extraction of clinically useful information from the data streams provided by medical imaging systems.

Cancer Imaging Research

Cancer imaging research covers the most common cancer disease sites, including breast, prostate, lung, kidney, liver and brain. Researchers develop diagnosis and intervention techniques for early-stage cancer, where a small number of cancerous foci need to be detected and treated. They also develop such techniques for understanding how cancer spreads to other organs, or metastasizes, and being able to track the effects of treatment on metastatic cancer.

Cardiovascular Research

If you are interested in cardiovascular/cerebrovascular research you will be exposed to an excellent mix of basic research targeted at understanding the fundamental behaviour of the cardiovascular/cerebrovascular system, to how these systems are impacted by chronic disease.

This research uses cutting-edge and established approaches to investigate cardiovascular/cerebrovascular function or disease at levels from the whole animal/human down to individual tissues or organs, isolated cells, and down to genomic control. And it is working to answer questions such as: How does the cardiovascular/cerebrovascular system work? How does it fail with disease? How do we intervene to prevent the system from failing, or to recover normal function if it had been lost? 

Cardiovascular/cerebrovascular research programs encompass many of the most relevant disease states afflicting patients across Canada and internationally. These include obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, sepsis, peripheral vascular disease, stroke and cerebrovascular diseases, chronic stress and depression and aging, among others. Importantly, we study not just how these pathological states impact cardiovascular function, but also how we can intervene to reverse any impairments to normal cardiovascular health associated with them. 

Biomedical Optics Research

You might also be interested in biomedical optics research. In this area, researchers are developing an optical imaging method called interoperative photoacoustic tomography.  Photoacoustic tomography is useful for capturing three-dimensional views inside tissues. They study photoacoustic tomography as a method to detect tumours in specimens removed during breast conserving surgery. Their goal is to completely remove tumours during surgery, so that patients do not need to come back for repeat surgeries.    

Orthopaedic/Implant Research

More than 100,000 joint replacements are performed each year in Canada as the only solution to alleviate the pain and impaired joint function caused by severe arthritis. A long lasting, effective replaced joint is the goal of every surgeon and patient, but sometimes implants fail.

This means the patient must undergo a complicated revision surgery to re-implant another artificial joint, which is rarely able to restore all of their function.

Ongoing research is seeking to understand which surgical techniques and implant designs yield long-lasting performance, or early failure. Students are involved with projects examining failed implants removed from patients, to determine if certain designs or materials reduce wear-and-tear on the implant. They are also working to improve x-ray imaging techniques to measure how well the devices are performing while still implanted. Together, this work will allow surgeons to optimize treatments for maximized patient outcomes.

There are a number of other research areas available to study including neurodegenerative, lung and metabolic diseases.

In addition to working with leading researchers, you will be exposed to multidisciplinary labs and utilize cutting-edge technology including micro-CT scanners, SPECT-CT scanners, 3-Tesla MRI scanners, Canada’s only 7-Tesla MRI and 9.4 Tesla animal and specimen scanners, ultrasound machines and so much more.