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Job: Physical chemist – NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics, Winnipeg , Manitoba
Research: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, cancer diagnosis
Languages:English, Tigrinya, Amharic
More about Tedros...
I plan and develop projects involving the application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy, primarily for the early detection and non-invasive diagnosis of cancer. The earlier we can detect cancer, the better prognosis for the patient. Most of our studies involve human subjects or specimens, such as body fluids or biopsies.
"I like the feeling that what I do now may some day help save people's lives."
We are comparing stool samples from healthy people and patients with colorectal cancer to see if we can find a way to detect cancer before it progresses. Studies have shown that if you detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, the chances of a cure are very high – the five year survival rate is over 90 percent. But if you detect cancer later, the survival rate decreases greatly. We examine stool samples using magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy – a technique related to MRI that can analyze the biochemistry of different tissues. Our ultimate goal is to detect colonic polyps, which are intermediate stages in the development of cancer. Our technique will be most useful if it allows doctors to detect polyps before they become cancer, so they can be removed.
We have another project on pancreatic cancer, which is less common than colorectal cancer but more deadly. People who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer often have only a few months to live. Doctors generally can't detect it until it's too late, so we're trying to diagnose it early from bile samples. Using MR spectroscopy of bile, we may be able to distinguish a normal person from someone with inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatic cancer.
We're also working on a lung cancer project with Inco, a nickel company in Sudbury. They want to develop a better test for monitoring the health of workers because many miners end up with lung cancer. Every six months or so, they collect sputum samples from their employees and then examine the cells. But the test they use now doesn't always give enough warning before someone develops advanced cancer. We are trying to detect very early changes in lung cells so we can treat cancer patients before it's too late.
I was born in Eritrea in northeast Africa . I always wanted to be a scientist, so I attended Asmara Universityin Eritrea . When I graduated with a BSc in chemistry, I had the highest marks overall and was awarded the President's Medal. I worked there for a year, helping out with freshman chemistry labs. Then I started writing graduate school applications, mostly to universities in the U.S.
I did my Master's and PhD in physical chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. While finishing my PhD, I went to Berlinto give a presentation at an international conference on magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy for biomedical applications. There, I met the Director General of the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics. Back in St. Louis, I wrote a letter inquiring about opportunities for a postdoctoral fellowship, and they invited me to join the institute. I started working at NRC in 1993.
I work about 50 hours per week, including evenings and weekend work. I try to take Saturdays off, but I generally work on Sunday afternoons. I supervise some PhD students and a postdoctoral fellow, and so, every weekday morning, we talk briefly and plan what experiments need to be done that day. I spend most of my time working on the computer, writing reports, proposals, manuscripts, and grant applications. But every few hours, I go to the lab to see if everything is going well or if there are any problems to solve.
Tedros After Hours
I visit the gym three times a week. I also play outdoor soccer, which I learned to love back home in Eritrea .
Books: I used to read detective stories and things like that. But nowadays, it's a struggle to find any time to read. I have two kids at home – a three-year old and a one-year old – and I try to spend as much time as I can with them and my wife.
Music: I like reggae, such as Bob Marley songs, and traditional African music.
Television: Before my children were born, I watched sit-coms. Now, I only watch current events and world affairs whenever I get a chance.
Movies: I enjoy comedies and dramas. I recently saw License to Wed, with Robin Williams.
Vacations: I like to visit the lakes and beaches of Manitoba. We have family all over North America , who we like to visit. Our travels have taken us to Las Vegas , Montreal , Vancouver , New York , New Jersey , St. Louis , Washington, D.C., Cuba and Rome.