Scientific Program Committee

Jennifer Quizi

Chair:

Jennifer Quizi

Director, Scientific Affairs, BioCanRx

Most recently, Jennifer was the Senior Clinical Research Program Manager for the laboratory of Dr. John Bell at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. In this role she was key in driving translational research initiatives. Previously Jennifer worked in industry as a Clinical Research Scientist for a pre-clinical SME in the cancer space. She was also Operations Manager at the Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre. Jennifer holds a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine from the University of Ottawa.


John Bell

Chair:

John Bell

Scientific Director, BioCanRx

Dr. John Bell is a world-renowned thought leader in oncolytic virus research and development. In addition to his many academic contributions to the field, Dr. Bell established a GMP manufacturing program that has produced clinical grade oncolytic viruses for worldwide use in phase I and II clinical trials. Dr. Bell co-founded and was the Chief Scientific Officer of Jennerex Biotherapeutics, which was acquired by SillaJen. Dr. Bell also co-founded Turnstone LP, an enterprise linking four Canadian research institutes to drive the clinical and commercial development of a proprietary next-generation oncolytic vaccine platform. Dr. Bell is a Senior Scientist with The Ottawa Hospital and Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. He heads the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a Terry Fox funded group that is developing virus based cancer therapeutics and is the Director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He is the Scientific Director of BioCanRx, Canada’s Immunotherapy Network, and a Network Of Centres of Excellence. Dr. Bell is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


Tommy Alain

Tommy Alain

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology and Principal Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

Tommy Alain is a Scientist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO RI), and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. His training is in virology, innate immune responses, cell biology, and oncology. Dr. Alain received his B.Sc. (2000) in Biochemistry from University Laval in Quebec City, Canada, and his Ph.D. (2007) in Medical Science from the University of Calgary, Canada. During his Ph.D. research, Dr. Alain studied the virology and the oncolytic potencies of reovirus, vesicular stomatitis virus, herpes simplex virus and myxoma virus against brain cancers. From 2007 to 2013 he pursued post-doctoral work at McGill University studying mRNA translational control and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, linking both viral immunity and oncology research. His current research in Ottawa focuses on exploiting translation initiation factors and downstream effectors of mTOR complex 1 to modulate innate immune responses to oncolytic viruses, and to augment the anti-proliferative efficacies of cancer therapeutics. Dr. Alain is also a member of the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a group of scientists from across Canada that seeks to understand, improve, and develop oncolytic viral immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.


Jeanette Boudreau

Jeanette Boudreau

Assistant Professor Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie University

Dr. Boudreau is Assistant Professor Boudreau Department of Microbiology & Immunology,and the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie University. Her team investigates how human natural killer cell immunogenetics program immune responsiveness to cancer and infectious diseases. They use bioinformatics, humanized in vivomodels, cell-signal analysis, and highly-parametric flow cytometry to understand how genetic variation creates diversity in human immune potentials. Her interdisciplinary and collaborative work aims to translate research findings into precision therapies. Dr. Boudreau received her PhD from McMaster University and underwent Postdoctoral Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


Marcus Butler

Marcus Butler

Co-Leader, Immuno-oncology Translational Research Initiative
Medical Oncology Disease Site Lead for Melanoma/Skin Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto
Associate Member, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto

Marcus Butler is a physician investigator with an interest in the translational development of immune-based therapies for cancer patients. He received his MD from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and trained in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare, Harvard Medical School, Boston. After serving on the Dana-Farber staff, he joined the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 2012. He is the Melanoma/Skin Medical Oncology Site Lead at Princess Margaret and is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is the Clinical Director for the Immune Monitoring Team at the Princess Margaret where he focuses on the immunologic impact of anti-cancer immunotherapies. Dr. Butler has been involved in the early development of several important immune-based therapies for cancer, including adoptive cell therapy and immunomodulators including immune checkpoint blockade. He has a major interest in investigating the combination of standard and immune-based therapies as a method to address innate and emerging resistance to immunotherapy.


Alex Chambers

Alex Chambers

Manager, Health Policy and Patient Access
National Oncology Policy, Novartis

Before joining Novartis, Ms. Chambers was the director for CADTH's pCODR from 2014 onwards. Prior to that, Ms. Chambers was a Clinical Epidemiologist with Health Quality Ontario and the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC). Ms. Chambers holds a Masters degree from McMaster University, and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree from the University of Waterloo.


Kevin Hay

Kevin Hay

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 Medical Director of the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Laboratory, a GMP facility in British Columbia dedicated to the manufacturing of cellular immunotherapies, and is 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

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 Kekrehas 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 theUniversity 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.


Nicole Mittmann

Nicole Mittmann

Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Evidence Standards, CADTH

Dr. Nicole Mittmann is CADTH’s Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Evidence Standards. Dr. Mittmann leads CADTH's shared science groups, including the Health Economics, Research Information Services, and Scientific Affairs teams.

Dr. Nicole Mittmann joins CADTH from Cancer Care Ontario, where she held the position of Chief Research Officer. She holds a faculty position as an assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and is an associate scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Dr. Mittmann is also the co-chair of the Committee on Economic Analysis (CEA) at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. Responsibilities include embedding economic parameters into clinical trials, economic evaluations, and guidelines development.

In her academic capacity, Dr. Mittmann has conducted and collaborated on notable research in the areas of economic evaluations, outcomes research, and drug/patient safety. Research methodologies include the examination of large databases, economic methodologies, and decision analysis.

Dr. Mittmann holds an MSc and PhD in pharmacology from the University of Toronto.


Brad Nelson

Brad Nelson

Scientist & Director, Deeley Research Centre, Co-Director, Immunotherapy Program, BC Cancer Agency

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, with an emphasis on ovarian cancer. As Co-Director of BC Cancer's Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on adoptive T cell therapy for gynecological cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and other malignancies.


Ismael Samudio

Ismael Samudio

Senior Director of R&D, Virogin Biotech Ltd

Ismael Samudio obtained his Ph.D. in genetics from Texas A&M University (2002) and received postdoctoral training in pharmacology and toxicology at the Institute of Biotechnology in Houston. Ismael then worked as a scientist in the Section of Molecular Hematology at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he led and supported various preclinical and clinical studieson the anti-leukemic and anti-tumor effects of various targeted agents, including the recently approved BH3 inhibitor Venetoclax. In 2015, after receiving additional training in immunotherapy at the BC cancer agency in Vancouver, Ismael was recruited to the Centre for Drug Research and Development (adMare BioInnovations) to lead an immunotherapy initiative and eventually became Director of Biologics for adMare BioInnovations. Ismael's Biologics team developed several novel anti-tumor biotherapeutics, including CAR-T, antibody drug-conjugates (ADC), and functional antibodies. In 2019, Ismael assumed the role of Senior Director of R&D for Virogin where he is responsible for overseeing the development of anoncolytic virus pipeline and supporting the clinical translation of the lead program VG-161.


Sheila Singh

Sheila Singh

Scientist, McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI)
Professor, Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Sheila Singh is a professor of surgery and biochemistry, chief pediatric neurosurgeon at McMaster Children's Hospital, Division Head of Neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences, and scientist appointed to the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University. She holds a Tier 1/ Senior Canada Research Chair in Human Brain Cancer Stem Cell Biology, and is Director of the McMaster Surgeon Scientist Program. Her PhD thesis described the novel identification of a population of cancer stem cells that exclusively drive the formation of brain tumours. Since 2007, Dr. Singh's lab applies a developmental neurobiology framework to the study of brain tumorigenesis. Building upon previous cell culture techniques developed for the isolation of normal neural stem cells (NSC) and applying them to brain tumours, and through development of a xenograft model to efficiently study brain tumour initiating cell (BTIC) activity, Dr. Singh's lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern BTIC self-renewal. Dr. Singh is currently studying the regulation of BTIC signaling pathways in glioblastoma, brain metastases and childhood medulloblastoma, with an ultimate goal of selectively targeting the BTIC with appropriately tailored drug and molecular therapies. Her laboratory is funded by CCSRI, CIHR, TFRI, CRS, the Stem Cell Network, McMaster Surgical Associates, Brain Canada and the Boris Family Fund. She is scientific founder and interim CEO of a start-up company, Empirica Therapeutics, a brain cancer therapeutics company that is seeking new, data-driven and polytherapeutic treatment options for patients with Glioblastoma and brain metastases. Empirica aims to translate research discoveries co-developed at McMaster University and University of Toronto through clinical trials and into the clinic.