Robert Canada

Picture of Robert G. Canada
Robert G. Canada, Ph.D.


E-mail: rcanada@howard.eduOffice 
Office: Numa P.G. Adams Blg., Room: 2414C 
Office Telephone: 202-806-6362
Laboratory: Numa P.G. Adams Blg., Room:2508G
Laboratory Telephone: 202-806-4521



B.S., Physical Sciences, Michigan State University (1972)
M.S., Biophysics, Michigan State University (1976)
Ph.D., Biophysics, Michigan State University (1979)


Membrane Transport
Action Potentials
Physiology of Synapses


The Laboratory of Biophysical Cytochemistry is unique in its capacity to conduct cancer-related research from a biophysical point of view. African-American and Hispanic women have the highest incidence and death rates of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in the United States. Cisplatin has recently received a considerable amount of attention as a chemotherapeutic agent for TNBC. Unfortunately, the development of cisplatin resistance is one of the major problems in treating patients with cisplatin chemotherapy. The long-term goal of the Laboratory is to determine the molecular and cellular mechanism of cisplatin resistance. The most important factor that influences the cytotoxicity of cisplatin is its cellular accumulation and degree of binding to DNA. We have established that terbium, a lanthanide metal, can increase the cellular accumulation and cytotoxicity of cisplatin in TNBC cells. The Laboratory of Biophysical Cytochemistry utilizes electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry and microfluorometry to measure the cellular accumulation and cytotoxicity of cisplatin, respectively. Time-resolved luminescence spectroscopy is used to determine the equilibrium and stoichiometric binding of terbium.

We have embarked on a series of experiments involving cancer nanotechnology. Nanotechnology offers tremendous opportunities to advance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. Our strategy is to specifically target TNBC cells, and deliver cisplatin to the cells without harming healthy cells. We have developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that is capable of locating and killing cancer cells as well as molecular imaging. The central hypothesis of our research is that terbium can enhance the cytotoxic activity of cisplatin and circumvent cisplatin resistance in TNBC cells.

Selected Publications

Canada, R.G.:  “Terbium fluorescence studies of cisplatin binding to GH3/B6 pituitary tumor cells,” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, vol. 887, pp. 29-34, (1986).

Mack, K.M., Canada, R.G. and Andrews, P.A.:  “The effects of terbium on the cellular accumulation of cisplatin in MDA-MB-231 human breast tumor cells,” Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, vol. 39, pp. 217-222, (1997).

Canada, R.G. and Paltoo, D.N.:  “Binding of terbium and cisplatin to C13* human ovarian cancer cells using time-resolved terbium luminescence,” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, vol. 1448, pp. 85-98, (1998).

Fuller, T.L. and Canada, R.G.:  “Enhancement of cisplatin cytotoxicity by terbium in cisplatin-resistant MDA/CH human breast cancer cells,” Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, vol. 44, pp. 249-252, (1999).

Perussi, J.R., Paltoo, D.N., Toppin, V.A.L. and Canada, R.G.:  “Synergism between dipyridamole and cisplatin in human breast cancer cells in vitro,” Quimica Nova, vol. 26, pp. 340-343, (2003).