Feature Story

The Next 100 Years

We asked researchers to transport themselves into the future.Here’s what Dr. Cornelia Hoehr from TRIUMF at UBC had to say.

If you could transport yourself to the future, what would you be teaching/researching in 100 years?

I might be developing new medical devices such as a scanner that diagnoses and treats cancer just by pointing it towards the patient, like in Star Trek.

Dr. Cornelia Hoehr, TRIUMF at UBC

A: I imagine that in 100 years from now, patients will not be treated with whatever standard treatment is normally prescribed but instead, their symptoms will trigger very specific screening to help the medical personnel learn more about the disease in the individual patient. From there, we would prescribe the best treatment for this patient, based on the size, location, blood supply, age of the [eye] tumor, genetic make-up and whatever else researchers will come up with by then. Therapy will span radiation therapy, chemical therapy, as well as biological therapy, hopefully greatly increasing our life expectancy and living quality.

As a physicist with a passion for nuclear medicine and radiation therapy applications, I imagine that I will still apply physical concepts (understanding interactions of particles on a molecular, atomic and nuclear level and manipulating them for a desired outcome) to the improvement of medicine. For example, I might be developing new medical devices such as a scanner that diagnoses and treats cancer just by pointing it towards the patient, like in Star Trek.

How will the work you are doing now influence your field in 100 years?

A: Currently, I am a research scientist at TRIUMF and the manager of the TRIUMF Proton Therapy facility, a collaboration between TRIUMF, the UBC Eye Care Centre and the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that treats cancer. It is incredibly precise, sparing the healthy tissue around the tumor from excess damage.

In Vancouver, we have been treating patients with eye cancer for the last 20 years who, before the advent of this treatment, would most likely have had their affected eye removed.

My work and research covers the improvement of proton therapy delivery by utilizing medical isotopes that appear as side products, and the production of medical isotopes for general purposes, including the screening of cancer and its potential metastases before proton therapy.

My hope is that my work will be part of the vast research currently being carried out to enable personalized medicine in the future.

UBC is a founding member of TRIUMF, a national lab owned and operated by a consortium of universities across Canada.

Want to study with Cornelia?

Discover TRIUMF at UBC

Explore this Series

Nearly every researcher searches for something — a clue, an anomaly, a missing link — that will unlock new knowledge about the world we live in.

In the first 100 years at UBC, discovery was paramount. The drive for invention and the need to understand cause and effect ushered in decades of eureka moments in labs, classrooms and in the minds of students and professors alike as relationships between things revealed themselves. 

But what will the next 100 years bring? We asked researchers across a range of disciplines at UBC to transport themselves into the year 2115 and imagine what they might be teaching and researching.

Discover what they envision and travel with them into the future.

UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
Learn more about the UBC Centennial.

Story Credits

Thank you to all of our participants for their willingness to predict the unknown.

Special thanks to Tim Herron, Events and Technical Services Manager, Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, for giving us lots of space to be creative and Public Affairs for suggestions on researchers for the story.

Story team: UBC Communications and Marketing — Martin Dee, UBC Photographer; Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Michael Kam, Web Developer; Lina Kang, Web Coordinator; Adrian Liem, Manager, Digital Communications; Mark Pilon, Designer; Aida Viziru, Web Interaction Designer; Matt Warburton, Manager, Graphic Design.

Published: February 2016