Dr. Peter Black


Urologic Sciences

Dr. Peter Black trained with one of the premier bladder cancer research groups in the world at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and has now established a research group at the Prostate Centre focused on targeting growth factor receptors in urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. His prior work concentrated on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and mechanisms of resistance to EGFR inhibition in pre-clinical models of bladder cancer. This work led to identification of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition as a key predictor of response to EGFR inhibition – and the fact that modulation of E-cadherin expression markedly affects response. Further studies also revealed close correlations between EGFR response and expression of both human EGF receptor 4 (HER4) and platelet derived growth factor receptor-ß (PDGFR-ß). Dual inhibition of PDGFR-ß and EGFR, for example, was effective in inhibiting growth of cell lines that were resistant to EGFR inhibition alone.

Research Focus

The continuation of this work on growth factor receptors has now shifted to NOTCH signaling. Preliminary gene expression profiling data points to the dysregulation of the NOTCH pathway as a relevant biologic mechanism in bladder cancer. NOTCH has well described roles in other cancers, including T-ALL and breast cancer. Dr. Black’s group is currently conducting a detailed characterization of the pathway in bladder cancer and will move forward with specific targeting of relevant mediators in the pathway. They expect that targeting the NOTCH pathway will modulate E-cadherin expression and enhance response to EGFR inhibitors and other agents.

Dr. Black’s research program at the Vancouver Prostate Centre has focused on next generation biomarkers and enhanced imaging in prostate cancer, including several collaborative projects linked to magnetic resonance (Tim Salcudean, Piotr Kozlowski) and ultrasound (Purang Abolmaesumi) imaging. He leads a translational research program focusing primarily on bladder cancer and secondarily on prostate cancer. His bladder program involves the development of novel targeted therapies for invasive disease and of genomic signatures for prognosis and to guide therapy. He collaborates with Hongshen Ma (Mechanical Engineering) on the development of a novel microfluidic device to isolate and study circulating tumor cells.

Example Project

“Development and Testing of New Imaging Techniques for Prostate Cancer Diagnosis” – Led by Piotr Kozlowski

Prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men. The current diagnostic standard involves a combination of multiple magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques – the so called multi-parametric MRI (mp-MRI). However, typical mp-MRI examination time can be quite long. In addition, one of the techniques commonly used as part of the mp-MRI protocol requires injection of a special contrast agent, which may cause adverse effects in some patients. We have recently developed an alternative technique, called Luminal Water Imaging (LWI), which is also based on MRI but does not require contrast and takes less time to apply. We propose to further develop this technique to shorten the examination time even more and make it into a true clinical tool. In addition, we will develop a computer program capable of accurately predicting the tumour’s location, volume and pathological grade.

Research Keywords

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Ultrasound Imaging, Prostate Cancer, Tissue Classification, Bladder Cancer

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

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