Matthew McCready: Physics undergraduate and "Boy Wonder"

Few are more deserving of the title “Boy Wonder” than Matthew McCready; if doing a BSc in physics and playing the tenor saxophone in the Western Chamber Music wasn’t enough, he just won his second NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award to work over the summer in a lab in his home department. All within the first three years of his undergrad. Finishing up his first research project under the supervision of Dr Eugene Wong, Matthew is developing computer models to map the growth of renal carcinomas – cancerous tumours of the kidney. Kidney tumours are treated by a class of drugs which cut off blood supply to the tumour in an attempt to starve it. Unfortunately, these tumours have the unique ability to activate a second type of metabolism in response to drug treatment, allowing them to survive even under heavily-reduced blood supply.

Matthew has built two mathematical models – one for pre-treatment and one for post-treatment metabolism of the kidney tumours with the goal of finding a clear difference between the two types of metabolism. Once the tumour activates its second metabolism in response to the drug treatment, it becomes very difficult to kill. Matthew’s work is part of a larger project within the Wong lab to calculate precise individual treatment doses that can effectively combat kidney tumours without engaging their troublesome backup metabolism.

His next undergraduate research project will be with Dr Blaine Chronik in physics to investigate how radio waves in MRI machines cause heating problems for pacemaker patients. Matthew enjoys the close relationships his physics labs have with medical research and hopes to pursue a PhD in medical biophysics.