Developing diagnostic tools for aggressive skin cancer

Mitacs Globalink research intern develops an image analysis device for early diagnosis of melanoma at University of Alberta

In 2015 alone, it is estimated that approximately 8500 Canadians will be diagnosed with the most aggressive form of skin cancer: melanoma. Often forming from an abnormal mole or lesion on the skin, early detection of melanoma can be life-saving. That is why Mitacs Globalink research intern Suranjana Samanta has dedicated her studies to furthering technologies that can save lives through the accurate and early detection of cancers.

As an electrical engineering student from Jadavpur University in India, Suranjana previously contributed to research on image processing techniques for lung cancer diagnostics. This summer, she is leveraging her understanding to develop a specialized tool for skin cancer diagnosis, under supervision from Professor Mrinal Mandal at the University of Alberta.

Working in tandem with a PhD student, Suranjana is helping to develop a diagnostics system that would connect to a medical-laboratory computer via its USB drive. The system would include specialized image processing software that can analyze an image of a patient’s skin at the site of a suspected lesion to provide fast and accurate diagnoses. Once complete, the tool could be sold to medical testing laboratories to provide an important first step for diagnosis that could save laboratory resources and reduce time delays on testing results.

Suranjana is feeling a sense of fulfilment and purpose from her research, saying, “Every day I am doing something wonderful. The reality of what it’s like here has far surpassed my expectations!” She hopes to return to Canada some day for graduate school in biomedical image processing—an opportunity, she says, that would help her to realize her dreams.

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

Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including Brazil’s le Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamentode Pessoal de Nível Superior, the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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