Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Dr. Shemanko’s research focuses on breast cancer, with an emphasis on bone metastasis (when the cancer has spread to the bone) related to early detection and therapeutic interventions for this disease. Bone metastasis is painful and not curable. It’s estimated between 30 – 50% of patients who are given the standard treatment for bone metastasis relapse. The need for better patient treatment is essential. Therefore Dr. Shemanko’s research innovation includes drug repurposing to accelerate and improve current drug treatments for patients, as well as developing a blood-based predictive test for bone metastasis.
Since 2018, Dr. Shemanko has secured three competitive research grants to further her innovation research goals. She is one of five researchers in Canada to receive an Upcycle Drug Repurposing Grant from the Cancer Research Society. By using a live cell-based drug screen, Dr. Shemanko plans to identify a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug that can be repurposed to improve bone metastasis treatments. The benefit to this innovative approach is being able to fast-track a drug for clinical use, because safety profiles from previous testing are readily available and the drug has undergone necessary scientific rigor.
Having already identified a biomarker signature for bone metastasis, Dr. Shemanko received funding from the Early Cancer Detection Initiative (ECDI) and the Cancer Early Detection Call of the Alberta Cancer Foundation in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS), to verify if the blood-based biomarker signature could help identify women who have developed bone metastasis compared to those who have not. Currently, no blood test exists to detect or predict a person’s risk of getting this disease. Identifying the biomarker signature and developing a clinical test are important innovations directly impacting patient outcomes.
Dr. Shemanko will use part of her Innovation Fellowship to create her own start-up company with the goal to attract investors, further develop her research through to commercialization and protect, both, her intellectual property and her research innovations. Not only will this start-up contribute to the economic development in Calgary, it will also contribute to training high quality professionals (HQP) in this research field.
Dr. Shemanko is instrumental in bringing together research expertise within the University of Calgary and through affiliations with other cancer research networks. She will also use her fellowship to support and mentor trainees. Committed to creating networking opportunities for cross-faculty and inter-provincial collaboration between researchers, Dr. Shemanko will provide opportunities to connect trainees with experts to help develop ideas, encourage innovation and launch big ideas to advance their careers.
This fellowship will help bring me closer to my vision of making a difference in the lives of cancer patients, with the chance to improve patient care and quality of life. While basic science research is the foundation of innovation and discovery, the application of basic science research is key to its greatest impact.
Dr. Carrie Shemanko, PhD