Giri Krishnan

Giri Krishnan

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


Dr Giri Krishnan is an Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgical trainee. He completed his medical degree at The University of Adelaide in 2013 and a Master of Clinical Science at the Joanna Briggs Institute in 2017. He is currently undertaking a PhD as part of a 'Surgeon-Scientist Training Program' investigating the application of novel nanoparticles to advance diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer.

Giri was awarded the 2018 Fulbright scholarship, and will undertake a research fellowship, as part of his PhD, at Stanford University in California, USA in 2019. He will work in the Rosenthal Laboratory where he will have access to state of the art preclinical imaging facilities. He aims to use advanced magnetic nanotracers for molecular imaging to identify microscopic metastatic cancer deposits in a mouse head and neck cancer xenograft model and study the use of fluorescent probes for real-time optical imaging during head and neck surgery.

My PhD investigates the role of nanotechnology to advance diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. This research brings together a team of expert South Australian Head and Neck Surgeons from the Royal Adelaide Hospital with  Bioengineers from the Future Industries Institute and scientists from the Basil Hetzel Institute to translate cutting-edge and innovative nanoparticle technology into clinical practice. My supervisors are Professor PJ Wormald, Professor Benjamin Thierry and Dr. Andrew Foreman. 

Oral cancer is the 12th most common cancer in the world and contributes a significant public health burden because of the aggressive nature of this disease and its associated poor patient survival outcomes.

Oral cancer
A patient with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nanoparticles offer several exciting opportunities in oral cancer research. Nanoparticles can be used as ‘tracers’ to help us detect the spread of microscopic cancer in imaging studies, by labelling them with immune antibodies that are specifically attracted to cancer cells. Accurate detection of cancer is critical because a missed diagnosis portends an extremely poor prognosis. They can also be used in a therapeutic fashion. For example they can be designed to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs directly to the tumour, reducing the systemic toxic effects of therapy. In a similar fashion they can be used for “radiosensitisation” of tumours by enhancing the effects of radiotherapy on the tumour. My team have manufactured magnetic nanotracers and have designed a unique hand-held 'magnetometer probe' that will enable us to perform sentinel lymph node mapping using a novel magnetic technique in the head and neck to identify the regional spread of tumour to the lymph nodes in the neck. 

Magnetometer probe
Schematic diagram of the design of the Magnetometer probe

The specific objectives of my PhD are to initially develop a small animal model of oral cancer and then to explore in this model, the feasibility of using advanced nanoparticles in each of these innovative diagnostic and treatment strategies. I will work with our team of experienced Head and Neck Surgeons to trial these treatment strategies in human patients.

Real-time optical image guided surgery
Real-time cancer imaging at the Rosenthal laboratory at Stanford

As part of my PhD I will also spend 12 months at Stanford under the supervision of Professor Eben Rosenthal analysing the role of nanoparticles for “real-time optical image guided surgery”. This emerging technique involves labeling nanoparticles with a fluorescent tag, which binds to cancer cells so that we can visualize the tumour margins during surgical resection. This improves our chances of complete tumour clearance, which we know gives our patients a much better chance of survival. 

Realisation of our aims could revolutionise the treatment paradigm of our patients giving them more efficient and accurate diagnoses and improving the success, while reducing the associated morbidity, of our medical, radiotherapeutic and surgical treatment.

Date Years Funding Body Amount
2018 1 The Fulbright Post-Graduate Scholarship $35,000
2018 3 The Garnett Passe and Rodney William’s Foundation Academic Surgeon Scientist Scholarship $210,000
2018 3 The Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation Conjoint Grant $300,000
2018 1 The Australia and New Zealand Head and Neck Cancer Society (ANZHNCS) Research Grant $5,000
2017 1 AVANT Doctors in training Advancement of Medicine Scholarship $50,000
2017 1 The University of Adelaide, Faculty of Health Sciences Divisional Scholarship $26,000
2012 6 wks The University of Adelaide Summer Research Scholarship  $500

Courses Summary

Giri is a Clinical Associate Lecturer at the University of Adelaide. He has been involved in teaching a variety of courses and has also be an oral assessor for entry into the medical program as well as an examiner for the medical student clinical examinations. 

Year Course Title Institution School / Department
2018 Applied Clinical Anatomy University of Adelaide Health Sciences 
2017 Case Based Collaborative Learning  University of Adelaide Medicine
2016 Suturing Tutorials  The Royal Adelaide Hospital Surgery
2015 Introduction to ENT Course for Interns and Residents The Royal Adelaide Hospital Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
2014 Bedside Tutorials The Royal Adelaide Hospital Medical Education

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