“I have been working as a research technician at the NKI for almost 25 years. I develop and validate methods used to measure cancer biomarkers. These biomarkers can provide insights into the presence of metastases and reveal whether a certain therapy is effective. They play an increasingly important role in the development of cancer drugs that target a specific biological target that cancer cells depend on for their growth. The most important part of my research was the development of a diagnostic method for the determination of epithelial circulating tumor cells in the fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Approximately 10% of cancer patients develop metastases in these fluids, and these patients have a very poor prognosis if left untreated. We have developed a method to trace unique molecules found on the surfaces of cancer cells. A machine detects the presence of these molecules in all cells contained in a small fluid sample. This method can help us detect 94% of patients with metastases. That’s more than the 76% of patients detected using the standard method of cytology, in which a pathologist uses a microscope to find tumor cells among the many normal cells in these fluids. The NKI clinical chemistry lab has already been using our method as a routine standard diagnostic tool. I greatly appreciate that the NKI has made my research and thesis defense possible.”
Dick will defend his thesis on December 20.