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About the Institute

Profile of Andrea Doria

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Dr. Andrea Doria

By: Megan Hutchinson

Dr. Andrea Doria, MD, PhD, M.Sc.

  • Senior Scientist, Translational Medicine
  • Clinical Scientist/Staff Radiologist, Research Director, Diagnostic Imaging
  • Co-Director, Research Fellowship Program, Associate Professor of Radiology, Chair of Clinical Investigator Program, Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto

1. Where are you from?/Where did you study?
I was born and raised in Brazil, where I studied Medicine at Universidade Federal do Parana. I did my training in Paediatrics and Radiology at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, and then a PhD in Medical Sciences at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. I moved to Canada to pursue a fellowship in Paediatric Radiology at SickKids and obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. My passion is the investigation of potential imaging markers to track angiogenesis-related factors (cause) and early cartilage degeneration (effect) in arthritis, and early detection of cancer.

2. What are you researching right now?
The overarching focus of my research career has been the experimental validation and clinical translation of novel and existing imaging tests for improvement of effectiveness of health-care delivery (diagnosis, treatment and follow-up) of childhood arthritis, specifically juvenile idiopathic arthritis and hemophilia, paediatric appendicitis, and most recently, childhood cancer. 

Under the existing imaging technology auspice, my research program focuses on international, multidisciplinary collaborations to test and translate ultrasound protocols and scoring systems for wide clinical application in developing countries with large populations of hemophilic patients (India, Brazil and China).

3. Who is your all-time favourite scientist and why?
Marie Curie. I admire her for her scientific accomplishments that opened new avenues for the development of radiology and for her personal characteristics of endurance and resilience at a time where a woman did not have many professional choices. 

She stood behind her dreams to dedicate her life to science, not succumbing to hurdles and challenges in her life. Since her parents could not pay for her education in her native Poland, she made an agreement with her sister to work as a governess to support her sister’s medical school studies. Then, after graduating, her sister returned the favour by supporting Marie in her university studies. Marie went on to discover polonium — she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize of Physics in 1903. Three years later, she lost her husband in a carriage accident and did not slow down. She continued their research, winning a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in chemistry, becoming the only person ever to win Nobel Prizes in two different science fields. 

Despite being a single mother, Marie Curie was able to inspire her children to study and excel in life. One of Marie’s children, Irene, was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for her discovery of artificial radioactivity. Marie was a fascinating and accomplished woman personifying some of the struggles that many women scientists face trying to juggle between a family and a career in science.

4. What in your opinion is the most important scientific breakthrough and why?
There have been thousands of important scientific breakthroughs over the centuries but in my field, the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen was a turning point in diagnostics. It enabled the evaluation of internal organs and bones which were previously inaccessible for investigation. The discovery of radium and polonium has also been extremely beneficial to patients with cancer. Radiotherapy uses these elements as a therapeutic method in oncology.

5. What are your major interests outside the lab?
A great passion of mine outside work is to spend time with the people I love – my family and friends, who are my extended family during my life course. I also like to be outside close to nature, meditate, practice yoga, watch movies and documentaries, and read books. I hope to one day find time to play the piano again. I actually graduated in music as a teenager but had to stop playing when I decided to dedicate myself to medicine.

6. What inspires your work?
What inspires me as a physician and scientist is our ability to improve the management of patients through early diagnosis, and the high-quality work, passion and dedication of my co-workers who only bring excellence to the work our team performs.

7. Why SickKids?
After taking the United Medical License Examination while living in Brazil I applied for fellowships in the U.S. and Canada. I was accepted in six fellowship programs in paediatric radiology in the U.S. and one in Canada, at SickKids, in 1999. I chose SickKids because this was the centre that had the strongest and most comprehensive multidisciplinary team in musculoskeletal care. Dr. Robert Salter was an inspiration for me as a fellow and I had the privilege of conducting a research study with him. I received tremendous support from the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at SickKids to pursue an M.Sc. in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto during my fellowship and then to pursue a scientific career. I feel extremely rewarded that I was able to stay at SickKids and work with bright and inspiring people who had believed in me and had lifted me higher in my aspirations as a young investigator.

8. What is the most controversial question in your field right now?
The high costs of scanners versus poorly investigated clinical indications of PET-MRI in paediatrics. Also, the use of radiation from PET-MRI for surveillance of children with predisposition to cancer, and how artificial intelligence can help radiologists conduct their work more efficiently.

9. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading two books currently:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which discusses the differences between intuitive and logical thinking, and how many decisions in life are made by what we feel it is right without having a rational argument for them. This topic interests me a lot and was also discussed in the book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.
  • Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin. Michelle is an inspiring woman who, as first lady, took a role for herself that she had not been asked for, and worked on it with high standards. She combined the roles of mother, wife and professional with the role of empowering girls from all over the world through education, which I think is the foundation of an equal society.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a research career, what would it be?
Follow your own path and tenaciously chase your dreams to achieve something bigger than yourself. Believe in yourself and in your ability to make a difference in the world. If you have a plan and work on it with dedication and passion without causing any jeopardy to others, doors will certainly open and the angels will say “amen.”

November 2017

Scientific profile