The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute logo
  • Patric Page, BSc


Dr. Sandra Turcotte

Program of Study:

PhD, Life Science

Project Title:

Evaluating the role of miR 2355-5p in VHL inactivated Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

Research Summary:

Kidney Cancer is one of the 10 most common type of cancer in Canada and its incidence has been on the rise for the last 20 years. In 2020, more than 7500 Canadians were diagnosed with kidney cancer and nearly 1950 died from the disease. The most common type of kidney cancer is called the Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC). Theses tumors are highly vascular, meaning they have a good blood supply allowing access to nutrients which results in rapid tumor growth. ccRCC tumors are often resistant to standard therapies. Unfortunately, they cause few obvious symptoms in the early stage of development when treatment would be more efficient. Kidney tumors usually cause symptoms only once the tumors are quite large and tumors cells have started to spread within the body (metastasis). Although some types of cancer can be diagnosed early through the detection of tumor-related compounds (biomarkers), no reliable biomarkers exist for ccRCC. Thus, more than a third of kidney cancer patient present metastasis at the time of diagnostic. Therefore, a better understanding of ccRCC formation and progression is crucial to develop new approaches to better detect and improve treatment. In our lab, we are investigating a type of genetic material termed microRNAs that are produced by all types of cells including cancer cells. Specific types of microRNAs have been associated with multiples cancers, including ccRCC, and have the potential to serve as a new biomarker for kidney cancer. During this project, we manly focus on one specific microRNA, miR 2355-5p, which seems to be involved in tumor growth. Results for this project might uncover new biomarkers and identify new important pathways for the development of new targeted therapies to treat kidney cancer.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

  • 1st place presentation CJCC Moncton, 2021
  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award 2020
  • NBHRF Doctoral Studentship, 2019 and 2020
  • 1st place poster presentation CJCC Moncton, 2019
  • 3rd place poster presentation 11th NBHRF conference, 2019
  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award 2018
  • NBHRF STGM Award, 2018
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Master’s Award 2017
  • New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) Master’s Supplementation 2017 
  • NBHRF Summer Studentship 2017
  • NSERC Summer Studentship 2016

Career Aspirations:

Ever since I completed my Honor’s Research Project in 2017, I knew I wanted to pursuit a career in the field of cancer research. After graduating from my bachelor’s degree, it was an easy choice for me to enroll in a master’s degree in biochemistry and then transfer directly to a PhD program the following year. Once I obtain my doctorate, my plan is to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship in the hopes that one day I can lead my own cancer research laboratory.


Université de Moncton, New Brunswick Center for Precision Medicine
Site by: Spectacle Group