Despite the fact that the majority of deaths from solid cancer occur due to the physiological effects of metastasis rather than from the primary tumor, metastasis remains a badly understudied field. A major area of research that is needed to address this problem involves gaining a greater understanding of the metastatic process as a whole, such that current therapies can be better utilized to target metastatic disease, and new, more effective therapies can be developed to better treat or prevent cancer metastasis.
A second important area of research is the identification and development of surrogate marker approaches that will allow close monitoring of both disease progression and response to therapy. Dr. Allan’s translational research program encompasses both of these areas, with two interrelated projects:
1. Clinical and biological importance of circulating tumor cells in patients and mouse models of metastasis
2. Role of cancer stem cells in breast cancer metastasis and treatment
Dr. Alison Allan holds an Honours BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Guelph. She is currently Acting Chair of Anatomy & Cell Biology and an Associate Professor of Oncology and Anatomy & Cell Biology at Schulich. She is also a Senior Oncology Scientist and Assistant Director of the Pamela Greenaway Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit within the London Regional Cancer Program at the London Health Sciences Centre.
Dr. Allan’s research program is focused on the investigation of cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis; particularly the study of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and in patients and animal models. Research in the Allan lab is investigating how CTCs and CSCs functionally contribute to metastasis, and how knowledge gained from experimental studies can be translated to the clinic to benefit patients. Dr. Allan has published over 45 peer-reviewed publications and her work has been cited >1800 times. Her research program is currently funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the US Army Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program, and industry funding.
Dr. Allan has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the H.L. Holmes Award from the National Research Council of Canada (2003-2005), a CIHR New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2010-2015), and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (2010-2015). She is currently a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the Metastasis Research Society (MRS) and serves on several external committees associated with the Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario (AMOSO), the Southwestern Ontario Academic Health Network, and the Council of Ontario Universities.