The NFRF’s Exploration stream addresses gaps in the federal funding system to promote innovation. It supports research that defies current paradigms, bridges disciplines, or tackles fundamental problems from new perspectives. The 2019 Exploration grants support a wide range of research topics—from developing ultrasound and photoacoustic technologies for detecting cancer, to supporting Inuit youth environmental leaders, to using drone-aided networks for communications in remote communities. The topics all share a unique interdisciplinary approach and the potential for game-changing outcomes in social, cultural, economic, health-related or technological areas that may benefit Canadians.
Professor Haji Reza and his team are working towards the next generation of surgical microscopes for real-time virtual histopathology. The ability to accurately distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue is currently impossible in intraoperative conditions (during surgery). For decades, histology has been the gold standard for post-operative margin analysis, taking several days or weeks depending on the case and specimen. The proposed research brings together Engineering and Medical experts to advance Photoacoustic Remote Sensing (PARS TM) Microscopy, a non-contact, high-resolution technology that can image the margins of a surgical cavity in real-time. Unlike conventional histopathological tools, PARS may provide imaging feedback while tissues are still in situ, and pathologic analysis can be done in a matter of seconds. The outcome would be dramatically shortened operation times, increased throughput of surgeries per day per operating room, improved patient prognosis, and decreased anesthetic complications for patients. New techniques to skew the battle against one of the world’s most deadly diseases will benefit patients, clinicians, and the healthcare system.