Tag Archives: Teresa Pitman

Computers Can Help Identify Diseased Cells Prof’s algorithm analyses cellular characteristics By Teresa Pitman

This article is taken from at Guelph,the University of Guelph online service for further dissemination.The article may be accessed at the following link:



Computers Can Help Identify Diseased Cells

Prof’s algorithm analyses cellular characteristics

By Teresa Pitman
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Prof. April Khademi

Prof. April Khademi

A crucial step in diagnosing many diseases and cancers is the examination of suspected lesions in medical images by a radiologist or cells under a microscope by a pathologist. The problem is that even skilled physicians can make errors, sometimes diagnosing a disease or cancer that doesn’t exist, or missing one that is present – and both kinds of mistakes can have serious outcomes for patients.

But change is on the way. Biomedical engineering professor April Khademi is conducting research that makes big strides towards reducing those errors and providing consistently accurate diagnoses using algorithms in radiology and pathology images.

Until recently, pathologists used a microscope to look at cells, but new wholeslide scanners generate very high resolution images that allow them to see much more detail. “You can see the cells and the nuclei on the computer screen enlarged 20,000 times,” says Khademi, who joined U of G in January.

However, all that detail can be difficult to manage and evaluate – and that’s where Khademi’s work comes in. She has developed algorithms (mathematical formulas) that allow the computer to analyze the data contained in the image. It might, for example, assess the roundness of the cells’ nuclei, or count the number of cancerous cells in a particular area. “Algorithms can quantify the information in an objective way,” she explains. “The process will give the same answer every time.”

She adds, “This is a brand new field. I am trying to create mathematical tools that mimic human perception, but in a better way. For example, a pathologist might look at a piece of tissue and say it has a rough texture. The algorithm can determine that the tissue is 80-per-cent rough, or can assess the image of a cell nucleus and determine that it has a 0.4 amount of roundness where the pathologist might just be able to say it was not very round.” These calculations can provide a foundation for better diagnoses.

Khademi, who was born in Saskatchewan but grew up in Toronto, says her engineer father fostered a love of math in his daughter and sons, who are also engineers. “I could do logarithms when I was in Grade 1,” says Khademi.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Ryerson University, where she also met her future husband. She was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for her research on computer-aided diagnosis of mammograms.

While completing her PhD at the University of Toronto, Khademi was awarded an NSERC Canada Graduate Student D3 grant (the highest level). Her studies there, done in collaboration with staff at Sunnybrook Hospital, developed algorithms to analyze the amount of white-matter lesions in a person’s brain.

“Almost everybody has some white-matter lesions in their brains,” she says. “These are areas where the tissue is not actually dead, but it is being starved of oxygen. We know that they can be a precursor to strokes and to dementia, but we don’t know much about how or why.” Her algorithms quantify the number and size of the lesions, providing objective data that can then be followed up over time to see which people have strokes or develop dementia. Those results may provide guidance for future treatment and more personalized medicine.

About 50,000 Canadians suffer new or recurrent strokes each year, which means on average a stroke occurs every 10 minutes in Canada. Stroke is the third highest cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, costing the Canadian economy roughly $3.6 billion a year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

Khademi hopes her research will lead to the development of new technological innovations that help reduce mortality rates, long-term disability and the economic burden associated with stroke. She is presently continuing this research and applying her algorithms to a large image database collected from patients across Canada.

During her PhD studies, she received additional awards: one was the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. “They flew me to Montreal for a big gala event,” Khademi recalls. But she was even more impressed by how she was treated when she twice won a Google Canada Anita Borg award. Those awards earned her a week in New York City and another week in San Francisco, where she had the opportunity to take part in presentations and be wooed by Google.

Two days after graduation, Khademi started working as an algorithm development specialist for GE Healthcare at the Pathology Innovation Centre of Excellence. Her work not only involved developing the algorithms that give meaning to digital images, but educating pathologists and others about the new technology.

Two years later, Khademi was hired by Pathcore, Inc., a Toronto-based digital pathology software company, where she focused on designing innovative products and algorithms as a senior scientist and product manager.

She was offered a position at U of G soon after. “I am honoured to continue my research in medical imaging technologies that I hope will transform the way medicine is practiced and improve the lives of patients with stroke and cancer,” she explains.

When she’s not working on ways to enhance medical technology, Khademi loves hot yoga and in-line skating; she also plays the flute. “I’m also very involved in volunteer work to promote math, science and engineering to girls and young women,” she says. “Did you know that only 10 per cent of the students in electrical engineering are women? I want to help change that.”



Library Exhibit Honours Canadian Entomology(Taken from ‘at Guelph’ for further Dissemination)

At Guelph

Library Exhibit Honours Canadian Entomology

Rare books, insect drawings date to 1634


The University of Guelph Library archives hold several water-colour drawings by Rev. Thomas Fyles, a member of the Montreal branch of the Entomological Society of Ontario. He painted this larvae and moth in 1901. “It represents the typical depiction of the insect world at the time,” says Prof. Mark Sears. “How  far have we come in 100 years.”

The University of Guelph Library archives hold several water-colour drawings by Rev. Thomas Fyles, a member of the Montreal branch of the Entomological Society of Ontario. He painted this larva and moth in 1901. “It represents the typical depiction of the insect world at the time,” says Prof. Mark Sears. “How far have we come in 100 years.”

Insects. Bugs. Creepy-crawlies. Some people shudder when they see them, but others find these little creatures fascinating and recognize that understanding them is important to many industries in agriculture, food and environmental services.

If you are someone who shudders, don’t be put off by the fact that a new exhibit in the McLaughlin Library fills several display cases with facts, figures and depictions of bugs, butterflies and their close relatives.

“Insects! Insects! Figments of Canadian Entomology” features fascinating historical material drawn from the library’s archives and assembled by statistics professor Gary Umphrey and retired environmental sciences professor Mark Sears.

Professionally, Umphrey is a numbers guy, but he has a passionate interest in the study of insects and the history of entomology. He says the entomological material in the archives dates back more than 150 years, to the date in 1863 when the first Entomological Society of Canada was founded. Yes, that’s four years before Confederation.

The society was renamed the Entomological Society of Ontario (ESO) in 1871 following a pledge of support from the Ontario government. But even after the name change, Umphrey says it still operated in many ways as a national organization with branches in other provinces. The first headquarters were in Toronto, but the organization soon moved to London and eventually Guelph in 1906, where it became affiliated with the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC). Today, the group’s library and archives are housed in the University of Guelph Library.

In 1950 the Entomological Society of Canada was formed, and ESO became a provincial organization. The two societies will celebrate their 150-year shared history of insect science at a four-day gala conference in Guelph Oct. 20 to 23. The library exhibit honours this occasion, providing a glimpse into the history of the study of insects in Canada for both conference-goers and the Guelph community.

The task of arranging 150 years of Canadian entomological history into displays is, not surprisingly, a bit daunting, says Umphrey. He appreciates the help of library archives staff Michelle Goodridge, Melissa McAfee and Kathryn Harvey, who have arranged and organized the displays. “Mark and I would like to have everything possible crammed into the displays, but the archivists help us sort things out and arrange them,” says Umphrey. “We know we can’t really get everything in, but we’d like to.”

The collection includes what Umphrey describes as “some very old, very cool volumes” such as books by Carl Linnaeus, who is known for developing the system used for naming plants and animals. A number of photos are in the collection, including one taken at the ESO’s 50thanniversary in 1913. The event was held at OAC, and one of the people in the photo is George Creelman, who was president of OAC at the time.

A former ESO president, Sears says that in the early 1900s the society gathered books and materials and traded journals and publications with other societies. “This was really cutting-edge at the time – the scientific descriptions and careful illustrations of the insects.”

Part of the library exhibit shows how these illustrations have evolved over time. It begins with drawings of insects, some hand-coloured, and continues the evolution through etchings and wood-cuts, pen-and-ink drawings, early photography and more advanced photographic techniques. A recent development, says Sears, is a photo taken with an electron microscope: “You get an image magnified thousands of times and can see the tiniest feature of the insect in great detail.”

Another display of how insects help people is also a reminder of U of G’s connection with the world of insects. Honeybees are naturally highlighted in this particular section, and Sears points out that bees have been part of the campus since the 1890s. At one time, in fact, OAC had an apiculture building located where the University Centre now stands.

Sears adds that new technology provides novel ways to bring alive the history of entomology in Canada; this year, the group is preparing a digital scrapbook. “We want to leave something for the future,” he says. It’s evidence that the importance of understanding insects and their role in agriculture and the environment continues.

(This interesting article has been taken from the following  link  of ‘at Guelph’ which is sent to me for further dissemination: