Canary Center at Stanford: Saving Lives through Cancer Early Detection
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Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD
Director, Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection
Upcoming Early Detection Seminars

Thursday, October 23

Luis Diaz, MD Associate Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University

"Somatic cancer mutations as biomarker for the early detection of cancer"

5:30-6:30, refreshments provided
Location LKSC 120

Thursday, January 22

Utkan Demirci, PhD Associate Professor of Radiology, Stanford University

5:30-6:30, refreshments provided
LKSC 120

This series is sponsored by the Cancer Institute. Please contact Sadaf Majidi at if you are interested in meeting with one of our speakers.

Tuesday, May 5
Canary Foundation Early Detection Symposium

Registration will open in January

From the Director 

We have several very exciting new initiatives at the Canary Center. We are pleased that we are in the process of forming a partnership with Google and Duke University to create the Baseline study. While still in its early stages, Baseline will ultimately collect samples from thousands of healthy volunteers in order to better understand the variability in the normal population. This information will be compared to thousands of volunteers at high risk for cardiovascular disease or cancer to identify better risk factors for detecting these diseases early. This project is an incredible investment and the first of its kind to tackle the issues of understanding human variation in a large scale study. In addition to the main aims of the study, the project will generate a valuable resource of samples and de-identified patient data that can be used for numerous ancillary studies by researchers at Stanford and elsewhere. You can read more about the study in a Stanford article here or in the Wall Street Journal here.
In addition to the Baseline Study, we are also expanding the existing Stanford Lung-CT screening clinic to participate in the Canary-MD Anderson lung cancer early detection program. The project is being led by Dr's Ann Leung and Vish Nair at Stanford. This is a multicenter study to establish a biospecimen repository from a cohort of current and former smokers who meet the criteria for low dose helical computed tomography (LDCT) screening established by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) as a result of the positive findings from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). The NLST demonstrated a 20% reduction in lung cancer specific mortality, but had a 96% false positive rate in subjects with pulmonary nodule suspicious for lung cancer by LDCT. This project is designed to create a biospecimen repository that will be used to validate high performing biomarkers for reducing false positive rates of LDCT screening, for lung cancer early detection, and for lung cancer risk assessment.
Finally, we are happy to announce a new joint faculty position at the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection and the Stanford Cancer Institute. We seek applicants committed to developing a cancer biology-focused research program with potential impact in areas such as early cancer detection and diagnosis, tumor initiation, development, progression, and/or understanding cancer subtypes. We are particularly interested in applicants who have multidisciplinary experience that can inform the development of new cancer diagnosis and detection approaches. You can find out more about this position at
As we look forward to a productive and exciting conclusion to 2014, we will continue to make announcements through these quarterly updates. If you would like to make suggestions for topics or content for the newsletter, please contact Dr. Bree Mitchell at
Thank you to everyone who participated in or donated to the 2014 Canary Challenge!

This was the best year yet with record participation and fundraising! Next year's theme is "Bring a Buddy" - hope to see you there Sept 26th, 2015!
Stanford Hospital is now offering a technology that could potentially identify breast cancers more accurately, with fewer false positives. The technology, known as tomosynthesis, is a form of x-ray that produces both two dimensional and three dimensional images in a single session. If doctors notice an area that's suspicious on the normal image, they can turn to the 3D view to essentially examine it from a different angle. See Stanford Radiologist and Canary Associate Faculty member Dr. Jafi Lipson interviewed about this new technology on ABC here

Spotlight on the Chemistry Core

Each newsletter will highlight one of the core facilities at the Canary Center.

The main focus of the Chemistry Core is on the design, synthesis and characterization of agents that can be used for in vitro or in vivo detection of cancer at earliest stages. The core also provides analytical and synthetic chemistry support to the Center’s scientists. The molecular agents that are being developed in the Core encompass small molecule and nanoparticle-based imaging agents intended for the use in optical, photoacoustic and multimodality imaging settings. The diverse research taking place in the chemistry core is evident from the recently published studies:

1. Cheng K, Kothapalli SR, Liu H, et al. Construction and validation of nano gold tripods for molecular imaging of living subjects. J Am Chem Soc. 2014;136: 3560-3571.
2. Levi J, Sathirachinda A, Gambhir SS. A high-affinity, high-stability photoacoustic agent for imaging gastrin-releasing peptide receptor in prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2014;20: 3721-3729. The research was highligted in Nature Reviews Urology : 

The Chemistry Core is well equipped with 22 fume hoods, a tissue culture suite, FPLC, HPLC, a peptide synthesizer, and a 400mhz Agilent NMR. For more information about the Core and research performed, please contact the Chemistry Core Director, Dr. Jelena Levi at


Dr. Demirci was awarded several grants including a R01 titled “Photonic Crystal Enhanced Fluorescence: Development of Sensors Structures and Detection” and a R21 titled "Malaria screening in resource-poor settings using a simple, power-free, cell phone-friendly device". 


Dr. Parag Mallick is part of a team awarded a DARPA Big Mechanism Program award titled “L2K2R2: Learn to Read to Know, Know to Learn to Read”

Dr. Sarah Totten, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Pitteri Lab, received a travel award to present her research at the 2014 American Society for Mass Spectrometry Asilomar Meeting: Advances in Glycomics and Glycoproteomics: Methods and Applications.

C. Lissandrello, F. Inci, Utkan Demirci and Kamil L. Ekinci. Nanomechanical motion of Escherichia coli adhered to a surfaceApplied Physics Letters, September 16, 2014 

Iagaru A1, Mosci C, Shen B, Chin FT, Mittra E, Telli ML, Gambhir SS. 18F-FPPRGD2 PET/CT: Pilot Phase Evaluation of Breast Cancer Patients. Radiology. 2014 Jul 16:140028. 

Carlsson A1, Nair VS, Luttgen MS, Keu KV, Horng G, Vasanawala M, Kolatkar A, Jamali M, Iagaru AH, Kuschner W, Loo BW Jr, Shrager JB, Bethel K, Hoh CK,Bazhenova L, Nieva J, Kuhn P, Gambhir SS. Circulating tumor microemboli diagnostics for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. J Thorac Oncol. 2014 Aug;9(8):1111-9.