Stories of HopePathologists: The Sherlock Holmes of Medicine

Posted on: Oct 20, 2015

Dr. Nadia Giannakopoulos is making strides in women's cancer research as one of two recruits supported by the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI) that is funded in part by the generous supporters of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

Think of pathologists as scientific detectives that use body fluids and tissues in a lab to help doctors understand what is going on with a their patients. 

“Our job is to help solve the big mystery of what’s going on with patients from the biopsies and lab tests we receive,” says Dr. Nadia Giannakopoulos who specializes in gynecological, breast and surgical pathology. “Our diagnoses guide decisions about treatment.”

Dr. Giannakopoulos is one of two recruits supported by the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI) that is funded in part by the generous supporters of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. Founded in 2006 WCHRI’s vision is to improve the outcomes for women and children through health research. WCHRI director, Dr. Sandy Davidge, says WCHRI represents just the tip of the iceberg of the potential depth and breadth of women’s health, especially at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. “With a research-oriented hospital – which is what we’re striving for – women get the best care. We’re at the forefront of knowledge and the forefront of clinicians working hand-in-hand with scientists for the best available medicines and procedures,” says Davidge, who’s also the Canada Research Chair in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health. 

“Research saves live and gives hope, and we wanted to do that for the women and children of our population.”

The research that Dr. Giannakopoulos is focusing on is cancers that develop from connective tissue cells, specifically in the breast and female reproductive areas. The current patient prognosis is poor for these types of cancer and the only available treatment at this time is surgery. 

“I’ve always wanted to know how the human body works and what happens when things go awry. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue these questions while collaborating with top-tier researchers.”

Dr. Giannakopoulos

Through the study of tissue segments that are sliced into samples one hundred times thinner than a grain of salt, Dr. Giannakopoulos is able to observe and learn how each cell individually relates to tumor growth and behaviour. “If we can understand what the tumours are doing and why, then we can control or subvert their behavior,” states Giannakopoulos. 

Supported in part by the generous donors of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, Dr. Giannakopoulos is playing an integral role in an extremely complex collaboration of many moving parts, all working toward advancements in women’s cancer treatment. 

Innovation is at the core of our foundation’s value set. Leading edge treatment options have a better chance of being discovered thanks to the important research being conducted by Dr. Giannakopoulos. We are very proud to support her efforts.

To all of the donors that generously back such important advancements we thank you. We look forward to the continued success of Dr. Giannakopoulos as she strives toward the goal of more effective treatment for women’s cancer.

For more on the important work being done through WCHRI please visit their website. For more information about Dr. Giannakopoulos please continue to an article featured in the WCHRI Fall 2015 newsletter.