Scientific Program Committee

Chair:

John Bell

John Bell

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 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.


Co-chairs:

Megan Mahoney

Megan Mahoney

BioCanRx

Megan currently works at BioCanRx, a federally funded Networks of Centre of Excellence focused on cancer immunotherapy. Since joining BioCanRx in 2017, she has developed and overseen training initiatives aimed at bridging the gap and growing the talent pool in translational expertise related to cell and virus-based therapies. Prior to joining BioCanRx, Megan was Operations Manager for the Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre (BMC) Virus Facility at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. In this role, she oversaw the operational activities of the BMC, which specializes in virus and vaccine development and manufacturing services for products destined for pre-clinical and clinical research. Megan is also a program advisor for the Science to Business Network and a program committee member for the Canadian Science Policy Centre. Megan received her PhD in Neuroscience from Queen's University in 2014.


Jennifer Quizi

Jennifer Quizi

BioCanRx

Dr. Jennifer Quizi is the Director of Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Operations at BioCanRx. Previously within BioCanRx, Dr. Quizi held the position of Director of Scientific Affairs, where she managed the portfolio of scientific programs funded by the organization, and engineered strategic partnerships to further the BioCanRx mandate. Prior to BioCanRx, Dr. Quizi 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 a number of large, multi-institutional translational research initiatives forward to the clinic. She also championed the establishment of a first-of-its kind training program that continues to this day to provide trainees with hands-on trainingin GMP manufacturing. Dr. Quizi has a number of years of experience with manufacturing biologics in her role as Operations Manager for the Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre in Ottawa, where they specialize in the production of therapeutic viruses for clinical use. Prior to this, she held the position of Clinical Research Scientist for a pre-clinical SME in the cancer space. Dr. Quizi holds a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine from the University of Ottawa.


Committee Members:

Rebecca Auer

Rebecca Auer

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa

Dr. Rebecca Auer is the Scientific Director for the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She is a Surgical Oncologist specializing in Colorectal Cancer Surgery and Retroperitoneal Sarcomas at The Ottawa Hospital and a Professor in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Auer completed her BSc at the University of Toronto, where she was awarded the prize for the highest marks among female graduates. She then completed medical school at Queen’s University where she received the Gold Medal for the highest standing in medicine. She finished her residency in General Surgery with a concurrent MSc in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. Following this Dr. Auer completed her Surgical Oncology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Auer returned to the University of Ottawa in 2008.

Dr. Auer holds a Tier 1 Clinical Research Chair in Perioperative Cancer Therapeutics and leads a translational research program focuses on understanding the promotion of metastatic disease in the perioperative period, following surgical stress. She had defined a mediating role for Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells and effector Natural Killer and T cells in the cancer recurrence and the development of postoperative metastases. Using surgically relevant preclinical animal models, Dr. Auer has identified candidate immunotherapies capable of counteracting the effects of surgery. Dr. Auer has led four translational clinical trials of perioperative cancer therapies based on this preclinical research. She has authored over 90 peer-reviewed publications and received over $6 million dollars in per-reviewed funding to support her work.

Dr. Auer is an international leader in surgical oncology and translational research in surgery. She currently serves as the Chair of Rectal Disease Oncology Group for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group and the Canadian representative to the NIH US Anal and Rectal Oncology Task Force. She is also on the executive of the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Canadian representative on the Global Forum for Cancer Surgeons. Dr. Auer also serves as the Chair of the Research Committee for the Canadian Association of General Surgeons and the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology.


Louise Binder

Louise Binder

Save Your Skin Foundation

Louise Binder is a lawyer and health advocate who has been involved in informing the development of health policy and systemic treatment access practices from the patient perspective since the early 1990’s subsequent to her own HIV diagnosis. She co-founded the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) in 1996. Louise began similar work in the cancer area and is presently a Health Policy Consultation with the Save Your Skin Foundation. She has been recognized by many organizations for her work, including receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from her alma mater, Queen’s Law School; the Order of Ontario from the Province of Ontario; and two Queen Elizabeth II medals.


Jeanette Boudreau

Jeanette Boudreau

Dalhousie University

The Boudreau laboratory investigates the immunology of natural killer cells, with a special focus on their role in cancer and cancer immunotherapy. We focus on inter-individual variation and the impact of immunogenetics and functional training of NK cells. We employ analysis of primary samples from patients and a state-of-the-art humanized mouse model to understand the features of NK cells that impact NK-mediated control of disease, to inform novel immunotherapies.


Kelvin Chan

Kelvin Chan

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Dr Kelvin Chan is a medical oncologist at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, and an associate scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute. He specializes in GI oncology and Head and Neck oncology.

As a health economist, clinical epidemiologist and biostatistician, Dr. Chan's research interests include health services research, health technology assessment, meta-analysis including network meta-analysis, cost-effectiveness analyses, and statistical methods research in health economics. He is the Co-Director at the Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control (ARCC), funded by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

Professionally, Dr Chan has an interest in cancer drug reimbursement related issues. He is a member of multiple provincial and national committees related to cancer drug assessments and recommendations including the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) Expert Review Committee (pERC), the Committee to Evaluate Drug (CED) and the Interim Chair for the Ontario Steering Committee of Cancer Drugs (OSCCD), Ontario MOHLTC and Cancer Care Ontario. He is also the Clinical Lead for the Provincial Drug Reimbursement Programs (PDRP) at Cancer Care Ontario (CCO).


Jean-Sébastien Delisle

Jean-Sébastien Delisle

Université de Montréal, Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont

Dr Delisle leads a research program in basic and translational T-cell biology and immunotherapy at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR) in Montréal since 2010. After completing clinical training in hematology and a PhD in immunology, Dr Delisle became a clinican-scientist  focusing his clinical practice in hematopoietic cell transplantation and his research in T-cell biology (mechanisms of memory/effector differentiation and dysfunction) and adoptive T-cell immunotherapy. At the Centre d’excellence en thérapie cellulaire (CETC), a GMP cell processing facility based at HMR, Dr Delisle has developed T-cell manufacturing protocols now used in early phase clinical trials. Current cellular products manufactured under Dr Delisle's supervision include virus-specific T cells, minor histocompatibility-reactive T cells as well as the translation of genetically edited T cells using various approaches. Dr Delisle is currently an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Montréal.


Elie Haddad

Elie Haddad

CHU Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal

Dr. E. Haddad specializes in clinical and basic research in pediatric immunology. After completing his medical training in pediatric immunology and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with Dr. Alain Fischer in Paris, he obtained his PhD in fundamental immunology (Villejuif, France) and then undertook postdoctoral work in immunonephrology at Hôpital Bichat (Paris, France).

In 2005, he was recruited by CHU Sainte-Justine as a physician-scientist and the head of the Immuno-Allergy and Rheumatology Division. Dr Haddad is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Montreal, Canada, and he is the Head of the Research Axis “Immune Diseases and Cancer” at CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center.

The major activity of his fundamental research is on cancer immunotherapy, mostly on the field of NK-cell and stem-cell based cellular therapy. Dr Haddad has also set up a humanized mice platform to develop relevant and innovative preclinical models of cancer immunotherapy and study of immunopathology. The major activity of his clinical research is focused on primary immune deficiency and as a recognized international expert on this field.

He published more than 160 manuscripts in both clinical and basic research.


Réjean Lapointe

Réjean Lapointe

Université de Montréal, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM)

Dr. Lapointe is a researcher specialized in human tumor immunology since 1997. He got his basic training at Université Laval from 1987-1997 in microbiology and immuno-virology, and moved to the NIH in the group of Drs. Steven Rosenberg and Patrick Hwu while working on tumor immunology. He was recruited at Université de Montréal/CHUM/Institut du cancer de Montréal in 2002, where he is now full professor. He also is the current head of the CRCHUM Cancer research department and Scientific director of the Institut du cancer de Montréal. Objectives of his lab in the last 10 years were oriented at both fundamental and applied research to: study T and B lymphocyte biology, establishing a Cell therapy program, and a clinical Immuno-monitoring platform, study tumor-immune system interactions, and develop new vaccination systems and immunotherapies. He is part of 2 FRQS Networks (cancer and cell/tissue/gene therapy), the National Center of Excellence (NCE) on Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment (BioCanRx), the immunotherapy network (iTNT) and the Montreal Cancer Consortium (MCC), the last 2 being supported by the Terry Fox Research Institute. He manages the FRQS/CHUM Breast Cancer Bank and has established the clinical CHUM immune-monitoring platform (6 clinical trials with Pharma). He published over 70 articles in immunology, oncology and microbiology.


Megan Levings

Megan Levings

BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Dr. Megan Levings has been in the UBC Department of Surgery since 2003 when she was recruited back to Canada as a Canada Research Chair in Transplantation. In 2011 she joined the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute where she now heads the Childhood Diseases Research Theme. Dr. Levings’ scientific career started with summer research positions in a fruit fly genetics lab at Simon Fraser University. She then did her graduate training in the genetics program with Dr. John Schrader at UBC, during which time she studied cytokine receptors and signalling pathways. In 1999 she joined Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo's lab in Milan, Italy, undertaking postdoctoral training in the then emerging area of immune regulation. She was among the first groups to show that a special kind of white blood cell, known as a T regulatory cell, could be used as a cellular therapy to stop harmful immune responses. She continues this line of research at UBC, and now leads a vibrant group of trainees and staff who are researching how to use T regulatory cells to replace conventional immunosuppression in the context of transplantation and autoimmunity. She is internationally recognized in the field of human immunology and currently chairs the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies Centers' of Excellence and is a member of the NIH-funded Immune Tolerance Network steering committee.


Doug Mahoney

Doug Mahoney

University of Calgary

Dr. Douglas Mahoney is a translational scientist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Charbonneau Cancer Research Institutes at the Cumming School of Medicine. Over the past 15 years, he has made important contributions to the development of two cancer immunotherapies, Smac mimetic compounds and oncolytic rhabdoviruses, which are now being tested in human clinical trials. Currently, his lab is focused on understanding how rhabdoviruses interact with host cells and using that knowledge to engineer “designer viruses” that evoke anticancer immunity and improve Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy of cancer. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, his lab is applying their expertise in virus engineering and immunology to build and test a set of viral-vectored vaccine prototypes against SARS-CoV-2. Outside the lab, Doug spends his time with his wife and three children, mostly enjoying the Alberta/BC wilderness.


Simon Turcotte

Simon Turcotte

Université de Montréal, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM)

Dr. Turcotte is a young Canadian surgeon-scientist with bench-to-bedside expertise in solid cancer immunology and immunotherapy. After his general surgery training and a Masters in cancer immunology at Université de Montréal, he completed post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute and at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, focusing on metastatic gastrointestinal cancer immune recognition. During those years, he established that endogenous T cells could recognize antigens derived from somatic mutations in gastrointestinal cancers refractory to chemotherapy, and that these reactive T cells could mediate cancer regression after adoptive T cell transfer to patients.

Since 2013, he is an assistant professor at the Université de Montréal, works as an hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) surgical oncologist and full scientist at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). His laboratory focuses on identifying new types of tumour antigens and therapeutically actionable immune checkpoints in colorectal cancer liver metastases. He co-leads the launch of the CHUM adoptive T cell cancer immunotherapy program. He has set-up and leads the CHUM HPB Cancer Prospective Clinical Database and Tissue Repository, to which more than 2000 patients have contributed thus far. He holds a Clinician-Scientist Research Scholarship from the Fond de recherche-santé Québec. In 2017, he was nominated the Université de Montréal Roger Des Groseillers Research Chair in HBP surgical oncology and received an Innovator Award from the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.