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Making waves: Grad student recognized for breast cancer detectionresearch

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October 20, 2005

Source: University of Calgary:

Making waves: Grad student recognized for breast cancer detectionresearch

Dijana Popovich, currently in her 3rd year of PhD studies, is a 2005 recipient of the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship. The award will go a long way in helping Dijana with her research into Breast Cancer Detection.

Popovich is developing algorithms that would increase the accuracy and the specificity of the Tissue Sensing Adaptive Radar (TSAR) system for microwave detection of early breast tumours. The system is being developed by an electromagnetics group in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, run by Drs. Michal Okoniewski and Elise Fear.

TSAR operation is based on the significant contrast in electrical properties that exists between the normal and diseased breast tissue. A number of antennas are scanned around the breast to produce an image and localize the tumours, if present. In comparison to X-ray mammography, the TSAR system does not involve compression of the breast and exposure to ionizing radiation, while providing better accuracy due to the high electrical contrast between tissues.

The process appears to have the potential to detect very small tumors. It is expected that the TSAR equipment to be significantly less expensive than some alternatives, such as MRI and nuclear medicine methods; and safety is also a benefit since the power of the radar pulses used in imaging are less that those generated by cell phones.

The Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarships are open for competition among Ph.D. students, with approximately nine awards made annually to the top ranking students. The award is valued at $25,000 per annum and includes a $3000 research allowance. The award has the potential for a second year of funding and will certainly benefit Popovich.

"I donít have to worry about money for living expenses", says Popovich of the financial benefits of the award, "The research money will also be extremely useful for purchasing computer hardware".

Popovich was also awarded the Killam - Donald N. Byers Prize for submitting the best statement of program of studies and research. The prize will be awarded annually to the highest-ranking Killam Pre-doctoral Fellow in the University Graduate Fellowship competition.



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