Q: What is your academic background?
I did a combined Bachelor of Science (BSc) and honours in Biology and economics at Dalhousie university and then a Masters of Arts (MA) in economics with a concentration in health economics at McMaster university. I completed my PhD at the University of British Columbia in the School of Population and Public Health.
Q: How did you get interested in your current research with the GCI?
As a postdoctoral fellow, I was working at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute on projects related to healthy pregnancy, including examining psychotropic medication use during pregnancy. I came to meet many of the members of OVCARE after Dr. Michelle Woo approached one of my postdoc supervisors (Dr. Patti Janssen) for a recommendation of who could help them work with CIHI’s discharge abstract database (a large hospital-based administrative dataset). With prior experience with these datasets, I was able to connect with OVCARE through this opportunity, and worked with Dr. Jessica McAlpine, Dr. Dianne Miller, Dr. David Huntsman and other GCI members on the first analysis of opportunistic salpingectomy (OS) as an ovarian cancer prevention strategy. We used those data to determine whether OBGYNs in BC had changed practice and to examine safety indicators of OS. This project was my introduction to ovarian cancer research and to members of the GCI. Through this important project, I was also able to get a taste of what a great team the GCI is, and how fun they are to work with. I also understood the incredible challenges we face with ovarian cancer and wanted to try and make a difference in this area.
Q: What do you enjoy about being part of the GCI?
The people, obviously! It’s a wonderful team with colleagues who are fun to work with and doing such valuable work in gynecologic cancer. The way everyone works together and collaborates is unique and makes the whole team operate on another level. Also, everyone truly believes in the mission and works in a unified way to meet our goal of reduced death and suffering from gynecologic cancer.
Q: What continues to keep you inspired?
The patients; hearing their stories, getting to know them, understanding what they faced and still currently face. It inspires me to continue to try and find ways to make things better and easier for them, and to prevent others from getting the same cancer.
Q: What advice would you give to researchers just getting started?
Be creative about finding ways to keep doing the research you love! You don’t have to find the perfect posting for a traditional faculty position, maybe you can grant-funded a position, maybe you can find a partner-track position, or maybe you can do the research you love within another type of organization. There are so many ways to do important health research!
Q: What’s next for you and your current research?
To expand ovarian cancer prevention. This includes expanding the surgeries at which opportunistic salpingectomy is offered. Currently, it is only offered at the time of hysterectomy or instead of tubal ligation, but we want to extend this effective prevention approach by making it available for more surgical patients. I also want to work on more accurately identifying who is at high risk for endometriosis-associated ovarian cancers, so we can intervene earlier to prevent these cancers as well. Also, determining whether we can prevent more ovarian cancers in people at high genetic risk for ovarian cancer while reducing the long-term health consequences of the surgical procedures that are used to prevent ovarian cancer in this population is another project I am passionate about.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to spend time with my family, my husband, and two young sons. We like to ski, swim, skate, surf, bike ride, and curl up in front of a good kid’s movie.