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January 2012

Elevating the interplay of art and science

Dr. Peter Bevan embodies the oft-forgotten idea that science and art flow hand-in-hand. As a researcher, imagining an outcome and working to make it a reality involves a creative process which is sometimes overlooked. But from behind the lens of his camera, the images he has created as a freelance photographer bring his artistic nature up close and personal.

Peter is currently in the final year of his Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship at McMaster University. Supported by his industrial partner, Sentinelle Medical, Inc. (a Hologic company), he is focused on clinical applications of combined MRI and ultrasound for improving diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.

“The Mitacs Elevate program helped prepare me for a career where I’d be merging ideas and leveraging the abilities of people with seemingly divergent skill sets and disparate backgrounds. I feel like I’m much better prepared to coordinate projects that involve balancing the different expectations of clinical, academic, and industrial partners. I have been given the tools that will allow me to manage diverse stakeholder interests while maintaining a focus on our common goals.”

One of his main roles with Sentinelle Medical is designing and coordinating clinical trials of the new MRI technology, demonstrating how it might speed up clinical workflow and help improve diagnosis. Peter’s work in multimodality medical imaging is a piece of a larger puzzle being worked on by the lab, creating innovative improvements in patient care and leading towards what might be called a bloodless biopsy.

His foray into the field of medical biophysics, for which he received his PhD from University of Toronto, can be traced back to his childhood:

"My parents were doctors, and, growing up, I didn't realize that they did more than that," Peter explains. "When I went into physics, I thought that I was doing something completely different from what they had done. It took me a long time to realize that I had never seen them in hospitals being doctors, I had always seen them at home being researchers. Now it's obvious to me that I couldn't have had better role models to live up to as I begin my own research career."

Recently, Peter was honoured with an award for ‘best talk’ at the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Postdoctoral Research Day. Peter hopes this is the first of many accolades on a journey he hopes will lead him to one day lead a multidisciplinary research group.

“I’ve learned lab and project management skills that were never part of my formal academic training. I learned how to communicate better with industrial partners and to plan out larger-scale projects that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish alone in a purely academic setting. Thanks to these skills I learned in the Elevate program, I’m starting to coordinate large multidisciplinary projects involving clinicians, academics, and industrial partners – and that’s exactly where I wanted to be.”


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Elevate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Elevate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.


Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: BD@mitacs.ca