journal contributionposted on 2019-07-30, 00:00 authored by Mark Lloyd
Thousands of fluorescent photomicrographs were acquired in a grid pattern to compile a single image of the human ileum at extremely high resolution. This technology enables pathologists (the specialized physicians who review microscope slides to diagnose disease) to quantify aspects of the digital images that were previously reserved only for subjective qualitative scoring. My PhD thesis explores the novel aspects of pathology that take advantage of this technological advancement. Just a few short decades ago, images from space enabled ecologists to view large tracks of land and gave rise to the discipline of landscape ecology. My research focuses on interrogating micrographs of histological sections with a similar focus for cancer patients. It is becoming increasingly clear that a single patient's tumor is not a homogenous mass of uncontrolled cancer cells, but rather a heterogeneous mix of cancer phenotypes. Ultimately I propose that intratumoral spatial diversity represents predictable cellular adaptations derived from Darwinian dynamics that are identifiable in local micro-environments. Understanding these variations will make it possible to optimize therapies specific to a patient's situation. This submission for The Image of Research is an example of the power of digital pathology and its potential role in precision medicine.