Sarah Bohndiek: The importance of imaging in understanding tumor metabolism

New technologies for measuring oxygenation in cancer show promise for early detection and treatment.

23 March 2016

The VISION Laboratory, led by Sarah Bohndiek, operates jointly between the Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI).

In the physics laboratory, they develop and validate new imaging technologies, currently concentrating on signal excitation in the visible and near infrared, and aiming to produce hyperspectral imaging methods with high sensitivity and specificity for clinical translation.

In the CRUK CI laboratory, researchers combine these new developments in molecular imaging with preclinical disease models to better understand cancer therapy response and drug resistance. In particular, they are interested in the role of oxygen, including the presence, absence and metabolism of oxygen in tumor cells and surrounding blood vessels.

Oxidative stress and metabolic alterations derived from inflammation and tumor growth lead to hypoxia and angiogenesis in cancer and are associated with disease aggressiveness as well as the evolution of drug resistance. The interplay between blood oxygenation, tumor hypoxia and oxidative stress has yet to be fully understood. Furthermore, there are few validated, noninvasive methods to detect their spatiotemporal distribution. Without these tools, the impact of this interplay on tumor biology cannot be studied. To overcome this limitation and help to elucidate the role of oxygen in cancer, the VISION Lab research aims to validate and apply novel imaging methods to study oxygen delivery and utilization in preclinical models and in patients.

In addition to her position as group leader at CRUK CI, Bohndiek is a Fellow at Corpus Christi College, (Cambridge, UK), and University Lecturer in Biological/Biomedical Physics, Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

Previously she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford University (US), 2011-2013, and a postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, 2008-2011. She received her PhD in Radiation Physics from the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at University College London (UK) in 2008.

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