Canary Center News

Dr. Tanya Stoyanova Received a NCI R01/R37 MERIT Award

April 2020

Tanya Stoyanova, PhD, and Assistant Professor of Radiology, received a NIH/NCI R01/R37 MERIT Award for her proposal entitled: "Elucidating the Role of Trop2 in Prostate Cancer".

The Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT)(R37) Award provides longer term grant support to Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) beginning with new, competing awards issued in FY 2018. Eligible investigators may obtain up to seven years of support in two segments:  an initial award of up to five years and an opportunity for an extension of up to two additional years, based on an expedited NCI review of the accomplishments during the initial funding segment.

Congratulation, Dr. Stoyanova!

Dr. Tanya Stoyanova’s Group Identifies a New Driver of Highly Aggressive Type of Metastatic Prostate Cancer

January 28, 2020

Tanya Stoyanova, PhD, and colleagues at the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection identified a new driver and regulator of highly aggressive subtype of prostate cancer, neuroendocrine prostate cancer. The work reveals new molecular mechanisms and therapeutic strategies for lethal neuroendocrine prostate cancer.

Dr. Gambhir Received IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award

December 17, 2019

Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, has received the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award, “For the development of nuclear and optical science in the field of molecular imaging and cancer treatment."

"Dr. Gambhir brought together the field of cell and molecular biology with that of biomedical imaging to form the field of multimodality molecular imaging of living subjects. He developed and translated strategies for merging nuclear and optical sciences for improved cancer detection and management. These strategies include the imaging of gene and cell therapies through positron emission tomography (PET) and multimodality reporter gene technology. He also developed multimodality imaging agents for use in Raman optical imaging and photoacoustic molecular imaging for applications involving the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and the prostate. His approaches also use novel cell and molecular biology to force cancer cells to reveal themselves through both in vitro and in vivo diagnostics. His work has enabled hundreds of laboratories and companies around the world to utilize molecular imaging to study fundamental biological processes in both animals and humans."

The Award was established in 2008. The recipient selection is administered by the Technical Field Awards Council of the IEEE Awards Board and given to an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear and plasma sciences and engineering.

Congratulations, Dr. Gambhir!

Dr. Gambhir Gives Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology at RSNA

December 3, 2019

Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and Chair of the Department of Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, gave the Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology to an audience of approximately 4,000 people at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

His talk, "Next Generation Technologies and Strategies for Precision Health," discussed focusing more on precision health, rather than precision medicine. "Most people confuse the two," he said. "When we think about precision medicine, we are very focused on things like selecting the right drug for the right person at the right time." Moving forward, we have to build the fundamental tools that will allow for an understanding of the risks of different diseases in a given individual, possibly at the time of birth, or even conception, and then monitor the changes in those risks over time.

The annual meeting draws around 50,000 attendees from around the world to Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center.

Canary Center joins new International Alliance (ACED) aiming to detect the (almost) undetectable

October 21, 2019

Developing radical new strategies and technologies to detect cancer at its earliest stage is the bold ambition of a new transatlantic research alliance, announced today (Monday) by Cancer Research UK and partners. The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer InstituteUCL, and the University of Manchester.

"Continued greater investments into early cancer detection and prognostication are needed worldwide and this new alliance will bring great opportunities for truly transformative approaches to be jointly conceived, tested, and deployed.

Our greatest chances in winning the war against cancer lie in tackling the front-end of the cancer problem and not after cancer is more widespread and heterogeneous."

Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD
Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research
Chair, Department of Radiology
ACED lead at Stanford University

Additional ACED Coverage

Dr. Reiter received ASciNA Young Scientist Award 2019

September 14, 2019

Dr. Johannes Reiter has been awarded the ASciNA (Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America) Young Scientist award for his study “Minimal functional driver gene heterogeneity among untreated metastases” which was published last year in Science Magazine.

Congratulations, Dr. Reiter!

Dr. Pitteri Invited to join California Breast Cancer Research Council

September 9, 2019

Dr. Sharon Pitteri has been invited to serve the University of California as a member of the California Breast Cancer Research Council. The Council is the official advisory body for the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP), which awards funding for breast cancer research related to the cause, cure, treatment, prevention, and earlier detection of breast cancer.

The mission of the California Breast Cancer Research Program is to prevent and eliminate breast cancer by leading innovation in research, communication, and collaboration in the California scientific and lay communities.

The Breast Cancer Research Council is made up of advocates, scientists, clinicians and representatives from industry and nonprofit health organizations who have extensive interest in breast cancer issues. The duration of a Council term is three years. Dr. Pitteri's term will run from 2019 through 2022.

Congratulations, Dr. PItteri!

New Hybrid, Dual-modality Camera Provides Real-time Anatomical, Functional, and Molecular Imaging of the Prostate

August 28, 2019

In a proof of principle study, researchers from the Multimodality Molecular Imaging Lab (MMIL) and collaborators have developed a new hybrid camera that simultaneously uses ultrasound and photoacoustics to image cancer in the prostate. The transrectal ultrasound and photoacoustic device, or TRUSPA, utilizes an imaging agent that cancer cells readily take up to produce a picture showing the anatomy of the prostate, functional details about the gland and molecular information that can help flag cancerous tissue.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine, "Simultaneous transrectal ultrasound and photoacoustic human prostate imaging".

New Study Finds Most Colorectal Cancers Spread Before Initial Tumor is Detected

June 17, 2019

Dr. Christina Curtis and colleagues find that colorectal cancers often spread before the initial tumor is detected. This work highlights the critical need for new strategies to detect aggressive cancers earlier.

KidneyX Redesign Dialysis Phase I Finalists

May 15, 2019

Janelle Kaneda (Pitteri lab), Mark Buckup (Stoyonova Lab), and Alisha Birk are Phase I finalists in the KidneyX Redesign Dialysis for their proposed solution, "Utilizing Optical Interrogation Methods for Early Diagnosis of Peritonitis in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients."

All three are undergraduate bioengineers and are the youngest finalist in the competition. The team designed a way to detect peritonitis before patient awareness for those who are using PD in order to treat the infection earlier. This will reduce acute hospitalization costs and prevent scarring of the peritoneum, therefore improving PD longevity . Their solution, the OpticLine, seamlessly integrates within the current PD setup, connecting in series with the drain lines used. The OpticLine will use spectrophotometry to analyze the optical density (OD) of WBCs in the dialysis waste fluid as a way to gauge for infection.

Congratulations, Janelle, Mark and Alisha!

Featured on the Cover of Nature Biotechnology: Immune Cells Engineered to Signal when Cancer is Detected

March 18, 2019

From Stanford News
Hanae Armitage

Stanford scientists were able to engineer immune cells known as macrophages to detect and flag cancer in mice. The researchers hope the technique can be used for early cancer diagnostics in humans.

Immune cells imbued with the power to detect and reveal tumors could be a new method of diagnosing cancer, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The research, performed in mice, involved modifying a specific class of immune cells to patrol the body for cancer and send a signal through blood or urine when they found trouble.

continue reading...

Drs. Sharon Pitteri, Carolyn Bertozzi and James Brooks receive NCI U01 award

March, 2019

Sharon Pitteri, PhD, Carolyn Bertozzi, PhD and James Brooks, MD receive the NCI U01-Alliance of Glycobiologists for Cancer Research Award for their proposal entitled:

"Glycosylation and Immune Evasion in Urologic Tumors"

Dr. Ali Ghoochani, PhD awarded DOD Early Investigator Award

March, 2019

Dr. Ali Ghoochani, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in Stoyanova Lab awarded Department of Defense, Early Investigator Award for his project title:

"Ferroptosis Induction is a Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Advanced Prostate Cancer"

Dr. Curtis and  Collaborators use Molecular Data to Predict Breast Cancer Recurrence

March 13, 2019

From Stanford News
Krista Conger

Some breast cancers return decades later. Now, researchers at Stanford, joined by collaborators at several other institutions, have subcategorized tumors to predict recurrence, guide treatment decisions and improve drug development.

Molecular data obtained from breast cancer cells can be used to predict which patients are at a high risk for recurrence even decades after their diagnosis, according to a new study jointly conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, as well as several other institutions.

In particular, some patients whose tumors express the estrogen receptor but not another receptor called HER2 are at a persistent risk of relapse over time. Until now, there has been no way to identify those women among their peers.

continue reading...




The Early Detection of Cancer Conference returns September 24-26, 2019; this year it will be hosted by the Canary Center and will take place at Stanford University.

The organizing committee, led by Sharon Pitteri, Ashok Venkitaraman and Bree Mitchell, has put together an exciting and progressive agenda covering integrative early detection through multiple technologies; understanding susceptibility for early detection; looking for signals in the immune system and microenvironment; and making prognosis from early detection signals.

To support this, we have confirmed a stellar line-up of contributors including Denise Aberle, Jim Ford, Ruth Etzioni, Tony Ng, Antonis Antoniou, Tanya Stoyanova and George Hanna.

Registration and poster abstract submission is now open. Up to 15 abstracts will be selected for oral presentations during the conference.

Deadline for Abstracts is June 1, 2019– places are limited so secure yours now.

Canary Center Associate Members Max Diehn and Ash Alizadeh have developed a sensitive urine test for early bladder cancer detection

January 25, 2019

Zhen Cheng's group at the @CanaryCenter and @StanfordMI developed a new PET tracer that could aid melanoma detection

January 17, 2019

de la Zerda Lab Utilizes Gold Nanoprisms Capable of Imaging Down to Single Cell

December 13, 2018

Fascinating discovery by Canary Center’s Sharon Pitteri in collaboration with Kevin Wang: a mammalian version of the honeybee royal jelly protein can maintain stem cell pluripotency

December 4, 2018

Dr. Gambhir Recognized as Highly Cited Researchers of 2018

December 3, 2018

2018 Canary CREST intern, Irmina Benson featured on CBS

Don Listwin Received School of Medicine’s Highest Honor

Don Listwin has been awarded the highest honor bestowed by the School of Medicine, the Dean’s Medal, which is presented to individuals whose contributions have significantly advanced the mission of Stanford Medicine.

Congratulations, Don!

The New York Times Highlights Project Baseline Study

October 18, 2018

Dr. Johannes Reiter’s work in cancer evolution has been awarded the Wissen schaf[f]t Zukunft Preis 2018.

October 12, 2018

Province of Lower Austria honors IST Austria Alumnus Johannes Reiter for his dissertation in the field of cancer research.

Congratulations, Dr. Reiter!

Stoyanova Lab awarded NCI Small Grants Program for Cancer Research award for the project titled:  

"Elucidating novel mechanisms underlying prostate cancer development"

The major goals of the proposed project are to define novel mechanisms through which Trop2 contributes to the development of advanced prostate cancer. The study will also develop new the therapeutic strategies to target Trop2 activity. Completion of the proposed research will give us insights into new mechanisms underlying the development of aggressive prostate cancer and open novel avenues for therapeutic intervention.


Dr. Curtis Received 2018 NIH Pioneer Award

October 3, 2018

Dr. Christina Curtis has been awarded the Pioneer Award from the NIH for her project, "Forecasting Tumor Evolution: Can the Past Reveal the Future?"

Dr. Curtis, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Genetics, plans to study how human tumors develop and to predict their progression. Her research focuses on understanding cancer systems biology, or the complex way in which many aspects of biology interact in healthy and diseased states. Akin to weather forecasting, the goal is to ultimately allow clinicians to anticipate how a tumor will behave over time, as well as to steer its course and tailor treatment options.

Congratulations, Dr. Curtis!

Canary CREST Interns abstracts accepted for the BMES 2018 Annual Conference

2018 Canary CREST interns in the Translational Molecular Imaging Lab:  Makenna Laffey, Katharine Nottberg and Karina Sharma have successful abstracts accepted for the BMES 2018 annual Conference in October in Atlanta for their titles on:

Abstract Title: "Photoacoustic Molecular Imaging Of Breast Cancer With A B7-H3 Targeted Affibody-ICG Agent"

Authors: Makenna Laffey, Katharine Nottberg, Karina Sharma, Rakesh Bam, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem, Katheryne Wilson

Abstract Title: "Synthesis of an Engineered B7-H3-targeted Affibody-ICG Contrast Agent for Early Breast Cancer Detection"

Authors: Katharine Nottberg, Makenna Laffey, Karina Sharma, Rakesh Bam, Lotfi Abou-Alkacem, Lotfi Abou-Alkacem, Katheryne Wilson

Abstract Title:  "Affibody Ligand Based B7-H3-targeted Microbubbles For Ultrasonic Detection Of Breast Cancer"

Authors: Karina Sharma, Makenna Laffey, Katharine Nottberg, Rakesh Bam, Katheryne Wilson, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem


Congratulations to all!


2018 Canary Challenge Fundraiser

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the important cause of cancer early detection.  Together, the Canary Center Team raised over $30,000 this year at the  2018 Canary Challenge.   We are overjoyed at this achievement and are grateful for everyone's committment. 

Thank you and Congratulations to all participants and volunteers!

Please visit to obtain more information.

Canary Center welcomes New Associate Faculty member Dr. Haruka Itakura

September 25, 2018

Dr. Gambhir Appointed to Membership on the NIBIB Advisory Council

September 16, 2018

Same Mutations Underpin Spread of Cancer in Individuals

September 11, 2018

Collaboration with MSKCC Reveals how Pancreatic Cancer Develops

September 10, 2018

Dr. Johannes Reiter in collaboration with physician-scientist Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue from MSKCC have found new clues about how cancer develops by studying abnormal pancreas cells that sometimes turn into cancer.

2018 Canary CREST intern presenting at The Early Detection of Cancer Conference 

September 7, 2018

Canary CREST intern Maggie Wang (Gambhir Lab)will present her poster titled: "Early Detection of Aggressive Cancer Using Longitudinal Biomarker MEasurements" at The Early Detection of Cancer Conference 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

2018 Canary CREST Poster Symposium Award Winners

August 23, 2018

Canary CREST Program awards students: Mackenna Laffey, Maggie Wang and Renuka Ramanathan with Best Poster Presentations.

SMASH Rising Scholars present their research project at the SMASH Alumni Summit

August 3, 2018

The first four Canary Center SMASH Rising scholars, Taylor Nguyen, Agodi Onyeador, Quentin Spikes, and Semhar Teklu, presented their research project at the SMASH Alumni Summit on August 3, 2018.

This summit reunited 200 SMASH alumni and cutting-edge research, industry, and community partners. The summit also provided opportunities for personal and professional development and celebrated over 15 years of the SMASH community. The four Canary Center scholars worked on their research project for 6 weeks under mentorship of Prof. Parag Mallick and researchers Michelle Hori and Hunter Boyce. During their presentation, the students explained how they combined experimental and computational methods to uncover potential new lung cancer biomarkers. Other student presentations were by IDEO Colab’s and Pandora’s SMASH Rising scholars.

Stanford Researchers Develop Magnetic Wire that Increases Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells

July 16, 2018

Dr. Gambhir Received 2018 Benedict Cassen Prize for Research in Molecular Imaging

June 25, 2018

2018 Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research Distinguished Investigators

May 22, 2018

Dr. Gambhir and his colleagues have found a way to track the effectiveness of a cancer immunotherapy in the body

May 14, 2018

Canary Center researchers are among those funded by Stand Up to Cancer

Several Canary Center researchers are on “dream teams” that will receive funding from the organization Stand Up To Cancer to develop strategies to detect and treat early-stage cancer.

SANJIV “SAM” GAMBHIR, professor and chair of radiology and director of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection at Stanford, is the principal Stanford investigator of the SU2C-LUNGevity American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team.

This $5 million, four-year project entails creating a molecular atlas of precancerous lung tissue; developing blood tests capable of identifying patients with early lung cancer recurrence and nasal, blood and radiological techniques to discern whether abnormalities on chest imaging are cancerous; and developing tests to determine who is most likely to benefit from particular treatment strategies.

The team is a collaboration between Stanford, Johns Hopkins University, UCLA, Boston University, Harvard University and the Francis Crick Institute.

In addition, MAXIMILIAN DIEHN, assistant professor of radiation oncology, is a co-leader of the SU2C-LUNGevity American Lung Association Lung Interception Translational Research Team, which received a $2 million grant. The team will work on developing a diagnostic tool that uses information from low-dose CT scans and from blood-based assays, which detect circulating tumor DNA and cells. The funding will support development and pilot testing of the tool, which aims to speed the detection of lung cancer.

Stand Up To Cancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.Stand Up To Cancer 


Learn more about the Dream Team and studies here:

Sharon Hori awarded DOD Breakthrough Award

May, 2018

Dr. Sharon Hori, PhD receives Department of Defense, Breast Cancer Research Program, Breakthrough Award for her project titled:  

"A Modeling-Based Personalized Screening Strategy Combining Circulating Biomarker and Imaging Data for Breast Cancer Early Detection"

Goal: To address the problems of breast canceroverdiagnosis and overtreatment by developing blood and urine sampling schedules that more accurately predict when a woman’s circulating biomarker measurements are abnormal.

Stoyanova Lab awarded DOD Idea Development Award

May, 2018

Stoyanova Lab receives Department of Defense, Prostate Cancer Research Program, Idea Development Award for their project titled:  

"Trop2 as a novel driver and therapeutic target for castration-resistant prostate cancer"

Dr. Meghan Rice, PhD awarded DOD Early Investigator Research Award

May, 2018

Dr. Meghan Rice, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in Stoyanova Lab awarded Department of Defense, Prostate Cancer Research Program, Early Investigator Research Award for her project title:

"Defining the Role and Therapeutic Potential of Notch Signaling in Aggressive Prostate Cancer"

May 2018

Stanford Undergraduate Research Winners

Alisha Birk of Pitteri Lab and Austin You Su of Stoyanova Lab have each received an Undergraduate Advising and Research Major Grant to support full-time immersive summer research.

Congratulations Alisha & Austin!

April 2018

Joanna Sylman of Mallick Lab featured in Nature Magazine

“A team of researchers lead by J.L. Sylman from the Canary Center at Stanford University, Oregon Health and Science University, and the Palo Alto VA investigated how longitudinal platelet counts could be leveraged via machine learning techniques to improve lung, prostate, and colon veteran cancer patients' prognosis predictions. The sponsorship and data for this work were provided through a Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP) fellowship given by the NCI and VA.”

Registration is now open for the 2018 Early Detection of Cancer Conference.

This annual event is a collaboration between the Canary Center at Stanford, Oregon Health Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute, and Cancer Research UK. It brings together experts in early cancer detection from multiple disciplines to share ground breaking research and progress in the field.

The 2018 conference will take place on October 2-4 in Portland, Oregon.

For more information see the conference website at

Toward Achieving Precision Health

February 28, 2018

Dahl, Willmann Labs' Collaboration Significantly Improves Ultrasound Molecular Imaging Sensitivity

January 24, 2018

In an article recently published in IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, members of the Jeremy Dahl and Juergen Willmann labs (Dongwoon Hyun, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem, Valerie Perez, and Sayan Mullick Chowdhury) demonstrate a coherence-based ultrasound method to image VEGFR2-targeted microbubbles in vivo, showing a 41% increase in SNR over conventional contrast-enhanced ultrasound techniques.

Dr. Utkan Demirci Featured in Advanced Science News

January 24, 2018

Science fact catches up with science fiction: by exploiting magnetic levitation, biomanufacturing – creating living 3D structures – is now possible in zero gravity. Utkan Demirci discusses how this works.


Canary Center at Stanford and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre collaborate to fund innovative research to help diagnose cancer earlier

January 2018

To bring outstanding academic and clinical researchers from the US and UK together, the two centers are jointly funding four research projects exploring innovative ways to detect prostate, lung, esophageal, and renal cancers at an early stage.

The awards were announced at Cambridge’s third annual early detection symposium on January 15. You can read more about these new collaborations below or by watching the video.

Remembering Dr. Juergen Willmann

January 11, 2018

Dr. Utkan Demirci Featured in the Stanford News:

January 3, 2018

New device selects healthy sperm

A new sperm-sorting device built at Stanford filters the unfit from the fit and could help improve infertility treatments. Stanford radiology researcher Utkan Demirci, PhD, and collaborator Erkan Tüzel, PhD, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, have used this premise to design a new device to filter out misshapen sperm cells.

This device, which is described in a paper in Advanced Science, could improve infertility treatments such as IVF.


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