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Pioneering Robotics Research

Dr. Wrana is at the top of his field, committed to translating medical research into more sophisticated and personalized therapies for cancer.
Pioneering Robotics Research

Dr. Jeff Wrana holds the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Few research centres worldwide have access to such powerful genetic technologies aimed at unraveling the complexities of cancer as the ones developed by Dr. Jeff Wrana at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. He has pioneered a leading-edge robotics facility where researchers at Mount Sinai and across Ontario analyze the functions of thousands of genes at a time and rapidly identify the processes important in human diseases including cancer. His technological innovations has enabled his internationally acclaimed research that is giving scientists and clinicians new ways of thinking about the diagnoses and treatment of the illness.

A Senior Investigator at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Dr. Wrana garnered international attention in 2009 for developing a software technology—the first of its kind worldwide—that analyzes protein networks inside tumour cells to determine a patient’s best treatment options. The tool, called DyNeMo, can predict with more than 80 per cent accuracy a woman’s chance of recovering from breast cancer.

Dr. Wrana is at the top of his field, committed to translating medical research into more sophisticated and personalized therapies for cancer. He is among a select group of scientists globally with expertise in the highly specialized area of research in the interactions of proteins and the complex network of pathways that lead to cancer. 

 “Proteins are interlinked and interdependent, in the same way humans are connected by a social network,” says Dr. Wrana, explaining that the use of DyNeMo in breast cancer showed that patients who survive have a different organization of their protein networks within tumour cells than those who succumb to the disease.

In recognition of these transformative discoveries and innovations, Dr. Wrana received one of Canada’s largest and most prestigious prizes in medical research in 2010, the Premier’s Summit Award.

Now Dr. Wrana is working with Mount Sinai surgeon Dr. Alex Zlotta to apply the DyNeMo software to uro-oncologic cancers such as those of the bladder and prostate.

“These types of technologies are the future of cancer diagnostics and prognostics, allowing us to grasp the true nature of a patient’s cancer—and ultimately empowering clinicians with new knowledge about how best to treat their patients,” says Dr. Wrana.  He notes that, whereas other cancers are more uniform in tumour biology, bladder cancer presents an ideal situation to achieve truly personalized medicine, in which therapy is customized to a patient’s specific type of tumour.

Dr. Wrana is an International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who holds a Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology, and was elected a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada.