2020 Summit Speaker Series

2020 Summit Speaker Series

Virtual Speakers

Dean Fergusson

Dean Fergusson

Senior Scientist/Director, Clinical Epidemiology Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Full Professor, University of Ottawa


Madison Foster

Madison Foster


Terry Hawrysh

Terry Hawrysh

Terry Hawrysh is a cancer survivor and advocate for a healthcare system that consistently delivers superior patient outcomes. Trained as a professional engineer, he also dedicates himself to health care initiatives that incorporate and find relevance in the views of patients with lived experience. Terry is a patient advocate and volunteer with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada and has contributed as a patient partner / advisor to a wide range of programs funded by government authorities, research institutions and charitable organizations. Recently, he has been active as a patient partner engaged in the development of an early phase CAR T clinical trial program centered at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.


Kevin Hay

Kevin Hay MD MSc FRCPC, Clinician Scientist

Terry Fox Laboratory & Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Director, Clinical Cellular Therapy Laboratory, BC Cancer
Medical Director, Conconi Family Immunotherapy Laboratory, BC Cancer

Dr. Kevin Hay is a Clinician Scientist at the Terry Fox Laboratory and Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC in Vancouver. Dr. Hay received a Master of Science in Immunology at the University of Manitoba (2008), followed by an MD (2011). After completing residency in Internal Medicine (2014) and a clinical fellowship in Haematology (2016) at the University of British Columbia, he was awarded a scholarship through the Clinician Investigator Program of UBC to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular immunotherapy which he completed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle Washington under the mentorship of Dr. Cameron Turtle. Dr. Hay’s research focuses on understanding the unique toxicities associated with Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells, as well as the development of novel CAR T-cell therapies. He is Director of the BC Cancer Clinical Cellular Therapy Laboratory where he oversees the processing of cells for hematopoietic cell transplantation. He also serves as Medical Director of the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Laboratory, a facility in British Columbia dedicated to the manufacturing of cellular immunotherapies, and is a Principal Investigator on a Phase I/II trial in Canada using CD19 CAR T-cells for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.


Natasha Kekre

Natasha Kekre, BSc, MD, MPH, FRCPC

Associate Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Hematologist, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ottawa Hospital
Assistant Professor University of Ottawa

Dr. Natasha Kekre has been appointed to the Department of Medicine in the Division of Hematology, within the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at The Ottawa Hospital, effective October 2015. She is also an associate scientist within the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. She completed her Bachelor’s in Science at the University of Windsor then obtained her medical degree from the University of Ottawa. She then trained at the University of Ottawa in Internal Medicine and Hematology. She went on to do a fellowship in stem cell transplantation at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA with a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University.

Her research is focused on developing early phase clinical trials and moving home grown therapeutic strategies into patients. She collaborates with a number of local investigators and scientists in Ottawa, studying hematologic malignancies and blood and marrow transplant recipients more specifically. Her laboratory research focuses on oncolytic virus infected cell vaccine therapy in leukemia. She is also collaborating with scientists and physicians across Canada to build a Canadian CAR T-cell platform (chimeric antigen receptor T cells are immune cells engineered to kill cancer cells), bringing this exciting new therapy to Canadian patients. Her other clinical research interests include improving transplant related outcomes and projects with an epidemiologic focus, including but not limited to decision modeling and meta-analyses.

She also participates with a number of cooperative groups in North America including the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group, the American Society of Hematology and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.


Manoj Lalu

Manoj Lalu

Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Associate Professor, University of Ottawa


Scott McComb

Scott McComb, PhD

Research Officer, Cancer Immunology, Human Health Therapeutics, National Research Council Canada
Adjunct Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa

My lab is focused on understanding how design drives function for synthetic immunotherapies like chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies, multi-specific immune cell engaging antibodies, and genome-edited cellular immunotherapies. Within the National Research Council Cell and Gene Therapy program, we are working with researchers across the country to push the development of next-generation cell and gene therapies, and accelerate their translation into clinical trials in Canada. Our lab has technical expertise in high-throughput mammalian cell assays, flow cytometry, plasmid libraries, lentiviral gene transfer, xenograft cancer models, CRISPR-gene editing, and synthetic biology. Through applying these advanced technologies we hope to help accelerate the transition to cost-effective and accessible cell and gene therapy in Canada.


Brad Nelson

Brad Nelson, PhD

Distinguished Scientist and Director, Deeley Research Centre
Scientific Co-director, Immunotherapy Program, BC Cancer, Victoria BC, Canada

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Phil Greenberg and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, he became the founding Director of BC Cancer's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Nelson’s lab uses genomic and molecular approaches to study the immune response to cancer. As Scientific Co-director of BC Cancer’s Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on CAR T-cell therapy for lymphoid cancers and novel T cell engineering strategies for gynecological cancers and other malignancies. Dr. Nelson is CEO and co-founder of Innovakine Therapeutics, which is using innovative protein and cell engineering approaches to improve the efficacy and safety of cell-based therapies.


Justin Presseau

Justin Presseau

Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Associate Professor, University of Ottawa


Julian Smazynski

Julian Smazynski, PhD Candidate, BCCA

Julian Smazynski, is a PhD Candidate at the BC Cancer Deeley Research Centre. Julian completed his BSc (Hons) in microbiology at the University of Victoria in the lab of Dr. Julian Lum, where he then transferred to the lab of Dr. Brad Nelson to pursue a PhD in Cancer Immunotherapy. His main research interest centres on the exclusion of immune infiltration in “cold” tumor microenvironments and designing novel cell engineering strategies to enhance immunotherapy against solid cancers. For his PhD thesis, Julian has found that the checkpoint TIGIT ligand, CD155 (Polio virus receptor), is over-expressed in ovarian cancer, especially those that are resistant to T cell infiltration. This work has led to the development of a novel genetic engineering strategy to convert the TIGIT/CD155 pathway from an inhibitory ‘off switch’ to a co-stimulatory ‘on switch’, thereby super-charging the T cell response against ovarian cancer. He is also involved in several projects focused on designing combinatorial approaches aimed at bridging oncolytic virus and cell based strategies.


Kednapa Thavorn

Kednapa Thavorn

Senior Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa


Mackenzie Wilson

Mackenzie Wilson