Lian Willetts is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta. She is a member of the Alberta Prostate Cancer Research Initiative (APCaRI) and Dr. John Lewis's lab.
Lian's research focuses on the mechanism of cancer metastasis and clinical applications in the diagnosis and prognosis of metastasis. Accurate prediction of disease progression offers physicians more information and allows patients to avoid morbidities resulting from unnecessary biopsy and/or surgery. Accurate diagnostics also reduce the cost of clinical intervention, thus reducing the economic impact of managing prostate cancer. Lian received the Prostate Cancer Research Program Postdoctoral Training Award from the Department of Defense, USA in 2015 to support her current research interest.
Lian and her colleagues combine intravital imaging and model-based research to screen for microRNA-based signatures of cancer metastasis. Thus far, her team has identified several target-patterns with diagnostic and prognostic value. In the future, Lian would like to focus on developing diagnostic platforms for prostate cancer metastasis based on her current research activities. Lian presented her project at the Falling Walls Labs and Conference in Berlin in 2015.
Lian obtained her Ph.D. and B.Sc. from the University of Alberta in 2012 and 2008, respectively. She also trained at the Mayo Clinic Arizona, and focused on eosinophil degranulation in allergic airway disease. Lian received the Young Investigator Award from the International Eosinophil Society in 2011 for her work in SNARE- based eosinophil degranulation in the development of allergic asthma.
Lian was trained in Human Histology and Human Morphology, and teaches systemic and medical gross anatomy to medical and other undergraduate students.
Her publications include:
Willetts L, Bond D, Stoletov K, Lewis JD (2016) Quantitative Analysis of Human Cancer Cell Extravasation Using Intravital Imaging. Methods Mol Biol. 1458:27-37.
Willetts L, Ochkur SI, Jacobsen EA, Lee JJ, Lacy P (2014) Eosinophil shape change and secretion. Methods Mol Biol. 1178:111-28.
Jacobsen EA, Lesuer WE, Willetts L, Zellner KR, Mazzolini K, Antonios N, Beck B, Protheroe C, Ochkur SI, Colbert D, Lacy P, Moqbel R, Appleton J, Lee NA, Lee JJ (2014) Eosinophil activities modulate the immune/inflammatory character of allergic respiratory responses in mice. Allergy. 69(3):315-27.
Kim JD, Willetts L, Ochkur S, Srivastava N, Hamburg R, Shayeganpour A, Seabra MC, Lee JJ, Moqbel R, Lacy P (2013) An essential role for Rab27a GTPase in eosinophil exocytosis. J Leukoc Biol. 94(6):1265-74.