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  • Nick Dawe, BSc


Dr. Brendan M. Leung

Program of Study:

MASc, Biomedical Engineering

Project Title:

Fabrication and validation of a sandwiched spheroid platform to preserve tumour heterogeneity for in vitro drug screening

Research Summary:

Cancer is a major cause of death in Canada. It is expected to cause more than 80,000 Canadian deaths in 2020. While cancer treatments have improved, they are still not perfect. Treatments are not effective against all cancers or in every patient because tumours are made up of many cells with different mutations that may react to therapy in various ways. In clinical practice, this makes picking a treatment challenging and hard to predict outcomes in patients. To better understand how to kill tumours, we need to study a wide variety of tumour cells within the lab. We aim to create a novel tool that mimics the natural environment of a tumour so that we are able to look at various types of tumour cells and study their behaviours. This project will build on current methods in cancer research and add 3-dimmensional (3-D) techniques to study how different tumour cells grow and respond to therapy. These behaviors cannot be easily studied using animal models or 2-D cultures. This novel tool can be used to test the effectiveness of current cancer drugs. The tool can also be applied to explore new cancer treatments and to predict how patients will react to them. By helping doctors pick the best treatment plan, we are helping to increase survival rates and improve quality of life in this special patient group.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

  • Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) Genomics in Medicine Graduate Studentship 2021
  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award 2021
  • Bruce and Dorothy Rosetti Engineering Research Scholarship (Dalhousie University) 2020 

Career Aspirations:

Upon completion of my Master’s degree, my goal is to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine. I have particular interest in oncology, public health, and social determinants of health. I aspire to someday be a physician who utilizes the research training from my graduate studies to serve an active role in research projects.


Dalhousie University


Rioux M, McNeil M, Francis M, Dawe N, Foley M, Langley J, Kelvin A. The Power of First Impressions: Can Influenza Imprinting during Infancy Inform Vaccine Design? Vaccines. 2020;8(3):546. Published 2020 Sep 19.

Ralph R, Lew J, Zeng T, Francis ME, Bei X, Roux ML, Toloue A, Rubino S, Dawe NJ, Al-Ahdal MN, Kelvin DJ, Richardson C, Kindrachuk J, Falzarano D, and Kelvin AA. 2019-nCoV (Wuhan virus), A Novel Coronavirus, linked to Chinese Pneumonia Cases: Human-to-Human Transmission, Travel- Related Cases and Vaccine Readiness. Journal of Infection in Developing Countries. 2020;14(1):3-17. Published 2020 January 31.

Francis ME, McNeil M, Dawe NJ, et al. Historical H1N1 Influenza Virus Imprinting Increases Vaccine Protection by Influencing the Activity and Sustained Production of Antibodies Elicited at Vaccination in Ferrets. Vaccines. 2019;7(4):133. Published 2019 Sep 28.

Connors J, Dawe N, Van Limbergen J. The Role of Succinate in the Regulation of Intestinal Inflammation. Nutrients. 2018;11(1):25. Published 2018 Dec 22.

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