Cancer Therapy: Drug Development, Delivery, and Radiation Therapy
Dr. Marcel Bally
Dr. Bally received his BSc (1977) and MSc (1979) degrees in biology from Texas A&M University. He obtained his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia (1984). Dr. Bally is an authority in drug delivery, anti-cancer drug combinations and drug evaluation in animal models of disease. His research interests focus on the development and characterization of novel lipid-based nanoparticle formulations for use in the treatment of cancer. Dr. Bally’s is one of the founders of the Center for Drug Research and Development; an organization aimed at addressing the growing commercialization gap between discoveries made in academia and the opportunity to develop this technology to a stage where investments can be made to support clinical and commercial development. His research can be linked directly to regulatory approved drugs, one product in late stage development and several others in early stage clinical trials and preclinical development. This would include (i) Myocet; (ii) Marqibo® and (iii) Vyxeos.
Dr. Kevin Bennewith
Dr. Kevin Bennewith obtained his PhD in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC in 2004 studying solid tumour physiology with particular emphasis on quantifying poorly oxygenated (hypoxic) tumour cells. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Amato Giaccia at Stanford University as a post-doctoral scholar, where he was involved in several projects investigating the role of hypoxia-induced secreted proteins in the growth and metastasis of solid tumours. His post-doctoral work included studying the role of connective tissue growth factor in pancreatic tumour growth and using an orthotopic pancreatic tumour model to study the efficacy of chemotherapeutics designed to target hypoxic tumour cells. He also helped to discover a central role for lysyl oxidase in breast cancer metastasis through promoting the recruitment of bone marrow-derived cells to metastatic target organs. Dr. Bennewith’s current research program at the BC Cancer Agency involves studying how hypoxic tumour cells promote tumour metastasis, how tumour secreted cytokines promote the recruitment of immune suppressive myeloid and lymphoid cells to various tissues, and the influence of these immune suppressive cells on primary and metastatic tumour growth. Dr. Bennewith’s research has been funded by the Terry Fox Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the BC Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Research Society, and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Investigator Award. Dr. Bennewith is currently a Senior Scientist at the BC Cancer Agency and an Associate Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC.
Admin Email: email@example.com
Dr. Shoukat Dedhar
The Dedhar lab carries out research in the broad area of the Tumour Microenvironment.
Specifically, the goals are to understand how tumour cells communicate with the extracellular microenvironment: matrix proteins, growth factors and other cell types, and to understand, at the molecular and cellular level, how these interactions promote tumour growth and metastasis.
The goals are to identify key signaling pathways and proteins that promote tumour progression and to develop novel therapeutic approaches to target these pathways and proteins to suppress tumour growth and metastasis.
Admin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Xuesen Dong
Dr. Dong’s laboratory investigates the molecular mechanism by which prostate tumors develop therapy resistance with emphasis on RNA binding proteins that promote treatment-resistant disease progression. His lab applies computer-aided drug design to develop new anti-cancer drugs and RNA sequencing technology to explore cell-free circular RNA as diagnostic markers.
Dr. Connie Eaves
Experiments in this laboratory and elsewhere have established the existence in adults (both mouse and man) of primitive hematopoietic stem cells capable of permanently reconstituting the production of mature blood cells in marrow-ablated or suppressed recipients. A major part of our work continues to focus on the development, validation and use of quantitative assays that are specific for biologically distinct subsets of these stem cells using syngeneic (mouse-mouse) and xenogeneic (human-mouse) hosts. We have also identified a developmental “switch” that alters stem cell proliferation and self-renewal control in the post-natal period. We are now trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying each of these causes of variable stem cell behavior using defined culture systems, gene transfer strategies, and genome-wide gene expression analyses. We have pioneered the development of quantitative assays for normal mouse and human breast epithelial stem cells and these are being used to identify their distinguishing features and growth regulation. Studies to adapt these methods for application to human breast cancer are underway. The objective is to provide a basis for analyzing molecular and genetic determinants of breast cancer at the level of the breast cancer stem cell and thereby develop more rational, patient-targeted therapies.
Admin Email: email@example.com
Dr. Martin Gleave
Dr. Gleave is a clinician-scientist and urologic surgeon whose clinical practice focuses on urologic oncology in a multi-disciplinary environment at the leading edge of assessing new technologies and treatments across both localized and advanced cancers. His research characterizes molecular mechanisms mediating treatment resistance in cancer, focusing on adaptive survival responses that drive acquired treatment resistance, and designing combination co-targeting strategies to create conditional lethality and improve cancer control. He patented several anti-cancer drugs and in 2001 founded OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals to develop OGX-011 and OGX-427, inhibitors of cytoprotective chaperones clusterin and Hsp27 now in Phase III and Phase II trials world-wide. He has co-founded several other companies including Sitka Pharma, TRiADD, and Sustained Therapeutics.
Dr. Rob Holt
The Holt Lab uses cutting edge tools and methodologies to investigate the biology of cancer from several different angles. Focusing on the immune system, the group has used deep sequencing to survey T cell repertoire diversity at the resolution of individual clonotypes and are now using these methodologies to explore the role of T cells in cancer. They are also working to develop cancer immunotherapies using engineered T cells to selectively deliver cytotoxic payloads to bolster the anti-cancer immune response and to enhance tumour cell killing. The group employs their expertise in DNA sequencing and computational analyses to investigate the role of infectious agents in cancer development and were the first to demonstrate a strong link between the pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum and colorectal cancer. Finally, they apply deep sequencing technologies to identify the spectrum of mutations in various cancer types, with a particular focus on tumour evolution and the identification of antigens for cancer vaccines.
Dr. Xiaoyan Jiang
The overall goal of Dr. Jiang's research program is to understand the molecular mechanisms and cellular functions of specific oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, miRNAs/target genes, and their associated pathways/networks, in the regulation of the properties of cancer/leukemic stem cells, signal transduction events, metabolism/mitochondria vulnerabilities, immune responses and initiation and progression of human leukemia and drug resistance. The ultimate objective is to identify and characterize key druggable molecules and pathways, using our well-established in vitro and patient-derived xenotransplantation (PDX) models, which will lead to new, rationally designed, more effective, and less toxic, personalized anti-cancer therapies. In particular, Dr. Jiang and her lab are extremely interested in developing mechanism-based combination therapeutic strategies that can directly target drug-insensitive leukemic stem cells and mutated drug-resistant cells, to improve outcomes in leukemia patients, especially those destined to develop drug resistance.
Dr. Joseph Lau
Dr. Joseph Lau is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and a Scientist in the Department of Integrative Oncology at the BC Cancer Research Institute (BCCRI). Dr. Lau received his PhD from UBC under the supervision of Dr. François Bénard, where he developed radiopharmaceutical agents for imaging tumour hypoxia. While he was a trainee at BCCRI, Dr. Lau was a recipient of the Lloyd Skarsgard Research Excellence Prize. Dr. Lau undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Dr. Xiaoyuan Chen’s Lab, where he developed radiopharmaceuticals targeting different immuno-oncology targets for therapy. In 2020, Dr. Lau was recognized by the Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging as an early career professional “Ones to Watch.” Before rejoining UBC, Dr. Lau was the Associate Director, Discovery at Alpha-9 Theranostics, a radiopharmaceutical company based in Vancouver BC. His research interests include the identification of cancer biomarkers for theranostic application, evaluation of novel pharmacophores and radioisotopes for radiopharmaceutical development, and strategies to enhance therapeutic indexes for targeted radiotherapy.
Admin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. William Lockwood
Genomics and Computational Biology, Tumour Biology and Immunology, Leukemias and Lymphomas, Molecular Biology and Metabolism, Cancer Genomics and Computational Biology, Tumour Biology and Immunology, Molecular Biology and Metabolism, Cancer Therapy: Drug Development, Delivery, and Radiation Therapy
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide, suffering from a late stage of disease at the time of diagnosis and a paucity of effective therapeutic strategies to treat advanced tumours. However, with our increasing understanding of lung cancer biology has come the advent of targeted therapies to combat this devastating disease. These therapies target mutated components of key cellular pathways on which tumours have become dependent on for survival, yielding drastic initial response rates without the major side effects of traditional chemotherapies. Despite these successes two major problems remain: first, the majority of lung cancer patients have tumours without mutations in targetable genes and; second, all patients eventually develop resistance to treatment with these targeted agents. In addition, since lung tumours commonly have hundreds of mutated genes, it is difficult to pinpoint those that are responsible for tumour growth and resistance to therapy, creating a clear bottleneck in the translation of laboratory findings to a clinical setting.
My lab utilizes an integrative strategy to address these issues. Through analysis of the genomic profiles of human lung tumours, we aim to identify novel genes and pathways that are altered during lung cancer development. Furthermore, by combining this information with the characterization of mice genetically engineered to develop lung tumours, we attempt to elucidate the key genes driving lung cancer initiation, progression and response to therapy. Lastly, by screening libraries of chemical compounds across lung cancer cells, we aim to characterize novel inhibitors of these identified genes and their corresponding pathways that show promise for use as targeted therapies. Together, this work will further our understanding of lung cancer biology and create insight toward the development of new approaches to diagnose and treat patients suffering from this disease.
Admin Email: email@example.com
Dr. Jonathan Loree
Jonathan Loree is a medical oncologist at BC Cancer with an interest in GI malignancies. He completed his medical oncology fellowship at BC Cancer and subsequently undertook a translational research fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he completed a Master’s of Science before returning to British Columbia. His research focus is translational research and biomarker development in colorectal cancer and neuroendocrine neoplasms and he serves as the co-chair of the colon cancer disease site for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group.
Dr. Andrew Minchinton
The tumour microenvironment is heterogeneous, both biochemically and structurally. Abnormal vasculature (with inter-vascular distances reaching 300µm or ~40 cell diameters) and dysregulated cell proliferation result in microregional gradients in nutrients, oxygen and drugs.
This biochemical and structural heterogeneity has consequences for cancer treatment. Cells located far from blood vessels are difficult for drugs to reach and because they have little oxygen, are resistant to radiotherapy.
Our group is interested in how the tumour microenvironment influences anticancer treatments including radiation and chemotherapy and have developed methodologies to quantitatively examine the extravascular distribution and effects of small and large molecular weight anticancer agents.
Dr. Torsten Nielsen
Genomics and Computational Biology, Cancer Imaging and Diagnostics, Tumour Biology and Immunology, Molecular Biology and Metabolism, Cancer Therapy: Drug Development, Delivery, and Radiation Therapy, Molecular Pathology
Prof Torsten Nielsen is an MD/PhD clinician-scientist in the Department of Pathology, who specializes in sarcomas and breast cancer. He works to translate genomic discoveries into practical clinical diagnostics and treatments. Some of his successes include the development of new diagnostic immunohistochemistry and nanoString assays for sarcomas and breast cancer molecular subtypes, international standardization of Ki67 testing, FDA and EU clearance of the PAM50 (Prosigna) assay for breast cancer risk, and contributions to clinical trials for fusion oncogene sarcomas and for the safe de-escalation of breast cancer chemo- and radiotherapy in low risk women. His current projects listed at www.gpecdata.med.ubc.ca/torsten/ActiveResearch.html and current lab members at www.gpecdata.med.ubc.ca/torsten/Lab.html
Admin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Daniel Renouf
Tumour Biology and Immunology, Molecular Biology and Metabolism, Cancer Therapy: Drug Development, Delivery, and Radiation Therapy
Daniel Renouf is a medical oncologist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver Centre, and an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, Department of Medicine.
He received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Alberta and completed his internal medicine and medical oncology training at the University of British Columbia and British Columbia Cancer Agency. He undertook further training in early drug development and gastrointestinal oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital and the University of Toronto, and obtained a Masters of Public Health from Harvard University.
Daniel’s research interests include developmental therapeutics, genomics, and biomarker development within gastrointestinal cancers, with a focus on pancreatic cancer. He is the leader of the BC Cancer Agency Phase I program, the Co-Director of Pancreas Centre BC and is the Co-chair of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group Pancreatic Cancer disease group.
Dr. Kirk Schultz
My work has evaluated clinically driven issues related to hematopoietic cell transplantation. Clinical investigations have focused on age-related factors affecting graph-versus-host disease (GVHD), graft-failure and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL). Laboratory investigations have used pre-clinical models and the performance of correlative studies in humans to investigate the mechanisms of GVHD and GVL and to develop experimental approaches to modulate these phenomena.
Our laboratory has evaluated the hypothesis that manipulation of MHC class II antigen presentation can alter T cell responses to endogenous antigens. We have investigated the importance of two MHC class II antigen presenting cells in vivo, B cells and dendritic cells, for T cell priming responses to leukemia, and minor histocompatibility antigens (MiHC). We have also investigated whether inhibition of MHC class II antigen presentation by lysosomotropic agents such as chloroquine can inhibit T cell responses to MiHC and development of GVHD. We have translated these pre-clinical observations into clinical studies. We have been one of the first groups to identify chronic GVHD biomarkers in children.
Dr. Michael Underhill
Dr. Underhill’s research interests involve understanding how changes at the molecular level influence cell fate decisions and the subsequent series of events that are involved in establishment of a skeleton. The initial focus of his research was on understanding the importance of retinoic acid receptor-mediated signaling in bone formation (chondrogenesis). This scope has now broadened to include analysis of numerous factors in skeletal development. These studies involve extensive use of microarray-based strategies coupled with functioning profiling to delineate the genetic programs underlying chondrogenesis. Similar strategies are also being employed to identify the transcriptional networks operating within the osteogenic program. Knowledge gained from these studies will determine the molecular basis of human congenital skeletal defects and potentially lead to novel therapeutic avenues to promote bone and cartilage formation for the treatment of skeletal diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Dr. Ly Vu
The overarching goal of our laboratory is to understand the control of stem cells in development and diseases. Our research group is focused on uncovering novel mechanisms of post-transcriptional and translational regulation during normal and malignant hematopoiesis. We aim to develop innovative therapeutic approaches targeting these regulatory pathways in cancer.
While disruption of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms and altered signaling networks are commonly studied, the role post-transcriptional and translational regulation in tumorigenesis has only recently recognized. We are particularly interested in defining the regulation of mRNA decay and translation mediated by poly(A) tail length and RNA deadenylation complexes in the context of normal and leukemia stem cells. Despite the central role of mRNA decay and poly(A) tails in regulating and coupling RNA metabolism and translation, it is virtually unknown how these processes contribute to drive and maintain the self-renewal and oncogenic gene expression programs in stem cells and cancer. Our work will provide insights into this largely unexplored area and enable development of new therapies. The laboratory employs human and mouse models; a broad range of molecular biology methods and a global approach using next generation sequencing techniques to decipher regulation of gene expression at multiple layers from transcription to mRNA biogenesis and translation.
Admin Email: Akotzer@bccrc.ca
Dr. Yuzhuo Wang
Dr. Dong’s laboratory investigates the molecular mechanism by which prostate tumors develop therapy resistance with emphasis on RNA binding proteins that promote treatment-resistant disease progression. His lab applies computer-aided drug design to develop new anti-cancer drugs and RNA sequencing technology to explore cell-free circular RNA as diagnostic markers. Dr. Yuzhuo Wang, Ph.D., F.C.A.H.S. has a dual appointment as a Distinguished Scientist at the BC Cancer and Senior Scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre. He is a Full Professor in the Department of Urologic Sciences at UBC and the founder of the unique Living Tumor Laboratory (www/livingtumolab.com). Dr. Wang has authored >210 peer-reviewed articles (with an H-index of 78), 14 book chapters and edited two books (i.e. PDX models of human cancer and Tumor dormancy). Dr. Wang created a novel method for establishing patient-derived xenograft (PDX) cancer models that closely resemble patients’ malignancies from which they are derived. His group was the first to1) demonstrate the first generation PDXs can be used to study cancer and human immune cell interactions and for personalized cancer therapy; 2) establish the first in field and the only PDX model with the NEPC trans-differentiation; and 3) establish a panel of ADT-induced PDX dormancy models from hormone-naïve PCa PDXs. So far, his group has established over 300 high fidelity next generation PDX models of a variety of malignancies in his Living Tumor Laboratory. His next generation PDX cancer models have been effectively applied in a number of research areas, including (i) preclinical drug efficacy studies, (ii) discovery and validation of potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and (iii) evidence-based personalized cancer therapy Dr. Wang’s scholar contributions can be highlighted by a number of novel hypotheses he has proposed, such as hypotheses on “epithelial-immune cell transition (EIT)”, “cancer-generated lactic acid is critical, immunosuppressive metabolite rather than a ‘waste product’ (which has been believed for more than 90 years)” and “Tumor dormancy is a non-genetic disease”. Based on his innovative theories and ideas, he has maintained a high level of grant funding that have led to widely recognized, ground-breaking research, including the discovery of several new therapeutic targets and the development of novel therapeutics targeting, among others, GATA2, BIRC6, MCT4, HP1-alpha and B7H4 genes. Based on his discoveries, two biotech companies (e.g. LAST Innovation Ltd.) have been formed in Canada. He has been mentoring over 90 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and co-op students. To date, many of them are employed as clinical doctors, academic professors, and scientists in industry. Dr. Wang has been invited to give > 200 lectures worldwide including at the most prestigious prostate cancer meetings. He has received many awards for his academic achievements in cancer research. Notably, he has been inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (FCAHS) since Sept, 2018.
Dr. Amina Zoubeidi
Molecular Biology and Metabolism, Cancer Therapy: Drug Development, Delivery, and Radiation Therapy
Dr Zoubeidi research program is aimed at uncovering mechanisms of CRPC with a special focus on the resistance to modern anti-androgen therapy. In particular, a subset of patients who relapse following ARPI therapy exhibit lineage switching whereby tumours shed their dependence on AR signaling and emerge with neuroendocrine features. These tumours, termed treatment induced neuroendocrine prostate cancer (t-NEPC), carry an extremely poor prognosis and, to date, treatment remains decades old cytotoxic chemotherapy which carries a short-lived response at the cost of significant toxicity. Thus, the need to develop targeted treatments for this devastating disease is of paramount importance. She published have 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts in Cancer Discovery, Nature communication, Cell Report, Cancer Research and others. She is a Michael Smith Scholar and was awarded the prestigious PCF Young Investigator Award in 2010 and since then have received substantial funding awards from national and international funding agencies as a principal investigator or co-investigator that together total over $14 million. Her track record of research excellence is underscored by numerous accolades from the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Urological Association, the Northwest Urological Society and others. She had the honor of being invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences on molecular mechanisms and drug targets of PCa, including AACR and CCRC and as a visiting professor at different Universities. She serves on several grant panel review committees including NIH, CIHR, PCa Canada, Prostate Cancer Foundation USA and others. She is a member of the editorial board of Endocrine Related Cancer and ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals including EMBO, Oncogene, the AACR journals to name a few. In recognition of her meritorious achievements, she was awarded the UBC Faculty of Medicine Distinguished Achievement Award for overall early career excellence, her trainees hold award from DOD, CIHR, PCF, PCC and others agencies.