Speakers

Harold Atkins

Harold Atkins

Harold Atkins MD is a physician of the Ottawa Hospital Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, a scientist in the Center for Innovative Cancer Research and the medical director of the Regenerative Medicine Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

He received his Bachelor of Medical Science degree and Medical Degree from the University of Ottawa followed by a rotating internship year at the Victoria General Hospital in Victoria BC. Specialty training in Internal Medicine was done at the University of Ottawa. Clinical and research fellowships in Hematology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Experimental Hematology followed at the University of Washington and at the Ontario Cancer Institute.

He specializes in the management of patients requiring stem cell transplantation and he has spearheaded the use of stem cell transplantation for immune repair to treat patients with severe autoimmune diseases, particularly Multiple Sclerosis. He has also developed clinical trials exploring the role of dose escalated radiation therapy to treat refractory blood cancers. His laboratory research includes a longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Dr. John Bell developing oncolytic viruses particularly for the treatment of hematological cancers as personalized cancer cell vaccines.


Rebecca Auer

Rebecca Auer

Dr. Rebecca Auer is a Surgical Oncologist specializing in Colorectal Surgery and Retroperitoneal Sarcomas at The Ottawa Hospital. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Ottawa and Director of Cancer Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Auer’s translational research program focuses on understanding the promotion of metastatic disease in the perioperative period, following surgical stress, and how to counteract these effects with novel immunotherapies, including oncolytic viruses. She runs a research laboratory that studies these therapies in pre-clinical models and is the principle investigator on three related clinical trials of perioperative cancer therapies. She currently holds a Tier 2 Clinical Research Chair and a Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Award.


Kathleen Barnard

Kathleen Barnard

Kathy prioritizes patient care and support. She was a key player in federal tanning bed legislation for Canada’s Youth and she continues to focus on education and awareness, while providing emotional and financial support to those dealing with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. As both a melanoma and immunotherapy survivor, Kathleen and Save Your Skin hope to share her experience by leading other patient groups in knowledge and advocacy training to ensure equal and timely access to new treatments for all cancer patients.

After completing her Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECCE) at Capilano University, Kathleen embarked on a career in business as a Corporate Accounting Manager at the Royal Bank of Canada. From there, she moved into marketing and communications as Stakeholder & Government Relations Manager at Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. She was the first woman to ever coach baseball in the Little League World Series. Kathy is also the recipient of the British Columbia Community Achievement Award for her leadership in addressing and raising awareness around skin cancer issues.

Kathy now sits on the Steering Committee for All.Can International and is bringing the All.Can initiative to Canada, she is on the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy, and is the chair and secretariat of CONECTed (Collective Oncology Network for Exchange, Cancer Care Innovation, Treatment Access and Education). In addition, Kathy is the Project Lead for the National Immuno-Oncology Patient Committee, the Project Officer for the CLASP Project—Sun at Work, the Skin Cancer Lead on the Global Survivorship Program, the Chair of the Canadian Skin Cancer Network, and the Canadian Lead on the Global Skin Cancer forum. She is a member of the Better Pharmacare Coalition, La Coalition Priorite Cancer au Quebec, CCAN (Canadian Cancer Action Network), and an affiliate member of the CSPA (Canadian Skin Patient Alliance). Her keynote speaking engagements include Government Round Table on Skin Cancer Prevention, Ottawa (2014), Benefit Canada Symposium (2011-2014), Canadian Melanoma Conference (2009-2015), and American Society of Clinical Oncology (2011).


Jonathan Bramson

Jonathan Bramson

Jonathan Bramson, PhD, is the Vice Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University and a Professor in the department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. He holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Translational Cancer Immunology and the John Bienenstock Chair in Molecular Medicine. Dr. Bramson is a T cell immunologist working in the area of engineered T cells.


Gillian Carleton

Gillian Carleton

Gillian Carleton is a PhD student at the University of Victoria. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Julian Lum at BC Cancer’s Deeley Research Centre, Gillian is interested in the complex mechanisms by which tumour cells metabolically constrain T cell function within the solid tumour environment. Their research centres on rewiring metabolic networks in T cells to overcome immunosuppressive signaling mediated by metabolic dysfunction or competition. In particular, they are currently developing novel gene-editing strategies to metabolically and functionally enhance CAR-T cell efficacy for treatment of ovarian cancer.


Lindsay DeVorkin

Lindsay DeVorkin

Lindsay DeVorkin received a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Simon Fraser University where she studied the regulatory mechanisms and crosstalk behind apoptosis and autophagy. During her postdoctoral studies at the BC Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre, she investigated how autophagy regulates tumour metabolism and T cell function. Lindsay joined AbCellera in 2017 where she helped establish high-throughput single cell and functional assays. She is currently leading discovery projects with top pharma and biotech partners.


Teresa Evans

Teresa Evans

Dr. Teresa Evans is a trained scientist, leader and consultant whose passion involves cultivating the innovation ecosystem in San Antonio. For her work in these fields, she was recently honored with the inclusion in the San Antonio 40 under 40 class of 2018. Dr. Evans leads a self-named consulting firm where she tackles challenges for clients that align with her key focus areas: innovation, military/DoD relevant projects, economic development, science and technology. Additionally, Dr. Evans is currently serving as a fractional COO for Trauma Insight, a Contract Research Organization focused on supporting the commercialization of military relevant innovations in trauma and critical care through design and execution of pre-clinical and clinical trials. She also holds a part-time faculty position at UT Health San Antonio where her work focuses on growing the STEM workforce of San Antonio through promoting K-12 Science Teacher Professional Development.

After receiving a PhD in Neuroscience from UT Health San Antonio, she has contributed to the life science community as a faculty member there and publish several peer-reviewed manuscripts in the fields of neuroscience and science education. Her publication in Nature Biotechnology titled “Evidence for a Mental Health Crisis in Graduate Education” has garnered significant national attention. It is currently ranked at the 99th percentile (12th out of 267,441) for tracked articles of similar age in all journals and has been tweeted approximately 10,000 times. She has received several grants from both the National Institutes of Health and private foundations as well as is the author of a book on the essential career guidance topics for scientists.

As the founding Director of the Office of Workforce and Career Development (OWCD) at UT Health San Antonio, Teresa designed programs to foster the connections among academic scientists, San Antonio industry partners, and the military community. Dr. Evans was the co-founder of San Antonio Science, a non-profit that hosted several highly successful science outreach events, most notably San Antonio Science Fiesta.

Dr. Evans possesses technology commercialization expertise, having been a Partner at the RealCo Seed Fund Program. Additionally, she guided the successful raising of funds for multiple seed rounds for the companies in the RealCo portfolio and was instrumental in the design of a novel commercialization program tailored to the needs of startup founders. Throughout her work across the academic and industrial sectors of San Antonio life sciences and technology, Teresa has developed a reputation as an advocate for the advancement of innovation through her abilities to communicate and connect with a wide variety of professionals across a variety of disciplines.


Natalie Firmino

Natalie Firmino

Natalie Firmino completed her BSc in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia, which included a series of co-operative work placements at the BC Cancer Research Centre. She joined Dr. Kevin Bennewith's lab in 2015, and began studying the oxygenation status of tumor-draining lymph nodes for her PhD thesis with the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC. Natalie is broadly interested in understanding how the microenvironment of secondary lymphoid organs impacts the efficacy of anti-tumor immunity and responses to treatment.


Tina Gruosso

Tina Gruosso

Tina is a passionate scientist who completed her PhD in Paris and her postdoctoral fellowship in Montreal in oncology and tumor microenvironment. Tina is now a scientist at Forbius, a clinical stage biotech company in Montreal. Tina is an advocate for evidence-based policymaking, innovation, science diplomacy, science communication as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. Tina represents early career scientists as president for the student-led non-profit organization Science & Policy Exchange devoted to engaging the next generation for science advice, science communication, and evidence-informed policy. Tina is also a member of the Global Young Academy, the Montreal chapter of Women In Bio and the redaction committee of the ACFAS magazine.


Blair Henry

Blair Henry

Blair Henry is a Senior Ethicist with the Health Ethics Alliance, and is currently working at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and North York General Hospital in Toronto. He has been working as an ethicist since 2002. Prior to this, he worked in hospice end-of-life care in the community.

Blair completed a Post Graduate and a Senior Ethics Fellowship in 2005-06 and 2006-07 respectfully, through the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. Blair completed a Doctor of Bioethics from Loyola University in Chicago. He is also has an Assistant Professor in the Division of Palliative Care in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, both at the University of Toronto.


Lana Janes

Lana Janes

Lana is a results-driven industry executive in the biopharmaceutical field with an entrepreneurial mindset, strong scientific background, and demonstrated success in leading R&D teams in the complex and high-paced healthcare industry. She brings over 20 years of pharmaceutical development experience that spans the full life cycle of therapeutic product development from discovery through to commercialization.

Most recently, Lana worked at QLT Inc. in Vancouver (now Novelion Therapeutics Inc.), where she held positions of increasing responsibility, and was a member of the executive management team for over 10 years. She most recently served as Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property and Technology Development and Chief Patent Officer, with leadership and oversight responsibilities for all R&D aspects of Novelion’s late stage ophthalmology orphan assets. Lana also has extensive experience in negotiating licensing, co-development, merger, acquisition, divestiture, and joint development transactions, and has conducted and lead extensive clinical diligence investigations into numerous technologies, devices and companies in the biotech/medical device space spanning numerous therapeutic areas.

Prior to joining QLT, Dr. Janes worked for several years as a registered patent agent (Canada and the US) in the Toronto offices of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, and Ogilvy Renault LLP (now Norton Rose Fulbright), and has also served as an in-house patent agent at F. Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, where her practice focused on the strategic development and protection of IP portfolios in the fields of pharmaceutical and biological products.

Lana also currently acts as Chief Operating Officer for the Seattle based biotech company, Retinagenix LLC, a privately held, clinical stage company committed to the development and commercialization of small molecule synthetic chromophore technologies discovered at the University of Washington for the treatment of progressive retinal diseases, and sits on the Boards of Directors for several entrepreneurial start-up biotechs in Vancouver, providing her with valuable experience and insight in strategically and cost-effectively advancing pre-IND stage and semi-virtual companies.

Lana received her AB in Chemistry with honours from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry with honours from McGill University, where she also conducted post-Doctoral work in the field of biological organic chemistry. She is an author of numerous scientific publications in the field of organic and medical chemistry and worked for several years as a synthetic organic chemist in the chemical and food industries in the US and UK.


Michael C. Jensen

Michael C. Jensen

Michael C. Jensen, MD
Janet & Jim Sinegal Endowed Professor of Pediatrics, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, University of Washington School of Medicine
Director, Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute
Joint Member, Program in Immunology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Dr. Jensen is an internationally recognized leader in the field of CAR T cell immunotherapy with over 20 years of experience in the research and clinical translation of this therapeutic modality. He has focused on the applications to childhood cancers. Dr. Jensen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and then completed training in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the University of Washington(UW)/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Dr. Jensen is the Janet & Jim Sinegal endowed professor of pediatric cancer research, University of Washington School of Medicine and serves as co-head of the Cancer Immunology Program of the UW-FHCRC Cancer Consortium, as well as Director of the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Dr. Jensen is a co-founder of Juno and Jewel Biotherapeutics, Inc. and the not-for-profit CureWorks collaborative.


Christopher J. Longo

Christopher J. Longo

Dr. Longo has over 30 years’ experience in clinical research, economic evaluation and access strategies for pharmaceuticals. He has published clinical, economic, and policy research in a number of therapeutic areas including: cancer, diabetes, sepsis, and mental health disorders. He teaches courses in health economics and population health at McMaster, and has taught a 5-week module on health economics in public health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto (2009-2016). Longo’s research has examined the economics of cancer and diabetes, economic evaluation of pharmaceuticals, global pharmaceutical pricing strategies, the public/private mix in the financing of healthcare, and the evaluation of factors influencing patients’ financial burden for health care services. Although still interested in these issues and how they relate to the healthcare system and its end users, he has refocused his research agenda. His current research examines the costs and economic evaluation of interventions/programs throughout the cancer journey, with the intent of informing policy decision making.


Julian J. Lum

Julian J. Lum

Dr. Lum began his training in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa where he studied how HIV causes destruction of the immune system. As a post-doc in the lab of Craig Thompson, Dr. Lum discovered how cancer cells depend on autophagy to handle nutrient and cellular stress. He found that cancer cells use autophagy to recycle metabolites for energy-generating pathways rather than towards processes that support cell growth. Now at BC Cancer in Victoria, Dr. Lum has combined his immunology training with his work on metabolism to study how the tumor microenvironment impacts the metabolism of T cells in a new emerging field of immunometabolism. His goal is to use genetic engineering to modify metabolic targets to enhance the antitumor activity of human T cells. By doing so, he hopes this will improve the efficacy of T cell-based therapies for cancer. Dr. Lum also has a long-standing interest in how radiation impacts the immune response to cancer. He is a Senior Scientist at BC Cancer, Associate Professor at University of Victoria and member of the BC Cancer Immunotherapy Program. He was a recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award, an Associate Editor at Biochemistry and Cell Biology and has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. His group received the 2016 Sylvia Fedoruk Award for their discovery of metabolic pathways that contribute to radiation sensitivity.


Stéphanie Michaud

Stéphanie Michaud

Dr. Stéphanie Michaud is the President and CEO of BioCanRx, a not-for-profit that seeks to accelerate the delivery of innovative immunotherapies from the bench to the bedside. In this position, Stéphanie is responsible for running all facets of the organization. She brings more than 20 years of public, government and private sector experience in research and Science & Technology innovation policy. She strives to create partnerships between government, not-for-profits, academia and industry to maximize the impact of research funded by the BioCanRx network on the lives of those affected by cancer.

Prior to joining BioCanRx, Stéphanie was Deputy Director of the flagship Government of Canada Networks Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. In addition to responsibility for its performance, management and delivery, she led the implementation of high profile bilateral international initiatives and provided strategic advice to government and stakeholders. She is a strong contributor to S&T policy, most notably in intellectual property.

Dr. Michaud earned a PhD in Organic Chemistry from McGill University. She is involved with a number of not-for-profit organizations and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Stem Cell Network.


Jason Moffat

Jason Moffat

Dr. Jason Moffat is a Full Professor in the Donnelly Centre and Department of Molecular Genetics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is also cross-appointed to the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering in the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering. Dr. Moffat is a Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics of Cancer and a CIFAR Senior Fellow. The Moffat lab focuses on developing genome-scale technologies and analytical approaches to explore genotype-phenotype relationships in human and mouse cells. His lab conceptualized the idea of core- and context-dependent fitness genes and defined the first gold standard sets of essential and non-essential human genes. The Moffat lab has also developed methods for direct cell screening to generate high-affinity human synthetic antibodies using phage-display technology. He founded and is Director of the Platform for Advanced Cell Engineering at the Donnelly Centre, and also previously served as Director of the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Centre at the U of T. Jason is co-founder of multiple biotechnology start-up companies.


Arta Monjazeb

Arta Monjazeb

Dr. Monjazeb’s research focuses on understanding mechanisms of resistance to cancer immunotherapy and exploring combinatorial strategies, including combined radiotherapy and immunotherapy, to overcome resistance. His research is truly translational in nature spanning from basic mechanistic studies to murine models to large animal companion canine clinical trials and human clinical trials. Dr. Monjazeb is uniquely trained for this line of research with an honors thesis in immunology at the University of California, Berkeley, a PhD in Cancer Biology and Inflammation, a Holman pathway research fellowship in cancer immunology, board certification as a radiation oncologist, and training through the UC Davis K12 program in translational cancer immunotherapy. He is an internationally recognized expert in this field with over 60 peer reviewed publications. Dr. Monjazeb serves in leadership roles in cancer immunotherapy on an institutional and national level including current appointments to the CTEP Clinical Trial Design and Immuno-oncology Agent Working Group, the NCI PD-L1 development project team, and chair of the NCI NRG oncology immunotherapy / immunomodulation committee. Dr. Monjazeb has designed and initiated a number of clinical trials testing novel combinatorial immunotherapy strategies.


Hideho Okada

Hideho Okada

As a physician–scientist, Dr. Okada has been dedicated to brain tumor immunology and development of effective immunotherapy for brain tumor patients for over 20 years. His team was one of very first to discover cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes in glioma-associated and glioma-specific antigens. Dr. Okada also found critical roles for the integrin receptor very late activation antigen (VLA)-4 and the chemokine CXCL10 in facilitating entry of CTLs to the brain tumor site. Dr. Okada has translated these discoveries into a number of innovative immunotherapy clinical studies in both adult and pediatric brain tumor patients. Dr. Okada’s discoveries have also led to two currently active multicenter trials (NCT02078648 and NCT02960230), each involving 15 or more sites. Most recently, Dr. Okada has developed a novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)viii and cloned a high affinity T-cell receptor against H3.3K27M, both of which are glioma-specific antigens. Dr. Okada’s team has also pioneered in discoveries of novel immunoregulatory mechanisms in gliomas, such as one mediated by myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and mutations of the isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) enzymes IDH1 and IDH2. To improve radiologic evaluation criteria for brain tumor patients undergoing immunotherapy, Dr. Okada leads an international group of brain tumor immunotherapy experts to develop novel iRANO criteria.

Dr. Okada is a Professor of Neurosurgery at University of California, San Francisco, and a member of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Dr. Okada serves as an associate editor for Neuro-Oncology.


Sandy Pelletier

Sandy Pelletier

Dr Sandy Pelletier is the Scientific Coordinator of the Adoptive Cell Transfer (ACT) Immunotherapy Program at the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) since 2016. She works under the supervision of Drs Simon Turcotte and Réjean Lapointe to develop new clinical trials focussing on tumor infiltrating lymphocyte ACT to treat metastatic cancers. She has been instrumental in the establishment of cGMP manufacturing of these cell products. Prior to this Dr Pelletier was a research associate in Dr Turcotte’s laboratory specializing in translational tumor immunology. She obtained her PhD in Immunology in 2013 and her MSc in Biomedical Sciences in 2007 both from the Université de Montréal.


Isabelle Rivière

Isabelle Rivière

Dr. Rivière received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Paris. She initiated her graduate studies at the Institut Curie in Paris and completed her thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Mulligan at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA. During this time, she developed novel retroviral vectors for in vivo long-term expression of transgenes in hematopoietic cells using MFG/SFG-based retroviral vectors that are widely used in clinical studies. Dr. Rivière joined the faculty of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1999 where she focuses on developing novel strategies for cell therapies and immunotherapies. Her laboratory investigates genetic approaches to enhance various cell types including T lymphocytes and stem cells for the treatment of cancer and genetic blood disorders. Over the past 20 years, she has developed cell manufacturing processes for several Phase I/II clinical trials under current Good Manufacturing Practices in the academic setting. Her lab currently supports multiple CAR-T cell based clinical trials for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors. She also investigates immunological functions of CAR T cells in clinical trials and animal models. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) and the Center for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy C3i (Canada).


Cliona Rooney

Cliona Rooney

Cliona Rooney, PhD, is a Professor in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT) and in the Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology, and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine and the Director of the Translational Research Laboratories of the CAGT. Her scientific training is in viral immunology and since 1992 she has used virus-specific T-cells (VSTs) for the treatment of virus-associated diseases and malignancies. She first used EBV-specific T-cells to prevention and treat the EBV+ post-transplant lymphoma, then extended this successful therapy to other post-transplant viral infections, and to EBV+ malignancies that occur in immunocompetent individuals. She is clinically evaluating strategies that render T cells resistant to inhibition by the tumor microenvironment, such as a dominant-negative TGF receptor and a constitutively active IL-7 receptor. She developed an inducible caspase 9 suicide gene for T-cells that has proved successful in clinical trials. To overcome the lack of in vivo proliferation of tumor-specific T-cells, she has evaluated VSTs as hosts for CARs, so that CAR-VST activation and expansion can be induced by endogenous viruses, viral vaccines or oncolytic viruses. She has been a PI on over 20 clinical protocols involving cellular therapies and co-investigator on over 40. She is a founder member of Marker Therapeutics and AlloVir, is on the scientific advisory board of CellGenix and is the author of over 300 scientific publications.


Sabra Salim

Sabra Salim

Sabra Salim is a Masters Candidate at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI) at McMaster University. Sabra recently completed her BSc (Hons) with a double major in Biology and Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster. In 2017, she joined Dr. Sheila Singh's laboratory as an undergraduate student, studying glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Over the past two years, she has been exploring the use of a CAR T therapy for patients with GBM. Beyond her work, her research interests include understanding how tumour cells modulate the immune microenvironment and evade immune surveillance.


Bruce Seet

Bruce Seet

Dr. Bruce Seet earned a B.Sc (Honours Physiology) and a Ph.D. (Microbiology and Immunology) from Western University (London, Canada), followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship at Mt. Sinai Hospital (Toronto). After a decade of research in academia, Dr. Seet joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2006 where he worked in various areas such as R&D Alliances, Medical Affairs, Marketing, Policy and Market Access. While at GSK, he completed his MBA at the Rotman School of Management (Toronto). In 2014, Bruce moved to Sanofi Pasteur as a Director, Medical Affairs where he continues to work. Among his volunteer activities, Bruce is a passionate advocate for broadening the professional development opportunities for graduate-level scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals. After recognizing this need in 2010, Bruce founded the Science to Business Network (www.s2bn.org), a national non-profit organization that connects stakeholders in industry, government and academia, where he still serves as President/CEO. Dr. Seet is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto since 2018. He also serves on the Research Management Committee as well as the HQP Development Committee for BioCanRx, a Network Centres of Excellence (NCE) that supports and accelerates the clinical development of promising cancer immunotherapies in Canada.


Len Seymour

Len Seymour

Professor Leonard Seymour is Professor of Gene Therapies, Director of the Clinical Pharmacology Section within the Department of Oncology, and Head of the Cancer Research UK Medicinal Virology Group at the University of Oxford. He has supervised over 30 PhD students, has filed 12 patents and published more than 150 primary scientific papers.

He is a scientific founder and former Board member of Hybrid Biosystems Ltd which, in 2010, merged with Myotec Therapeutics Ltd to became PsiOxus Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that produces novel therapeutics particularly for cancer treatment and which is currently conducting a series of clinical trials exploring intravenous delivery of oncolytic viruses for treatment of advanced cancer. In 2012 he was a founding scientist of Oxford Genetics, a plasmid company developing a modular approach to molecular cloning in order to improve the efficiency of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. From 2018, he is a scientific founder and part time Chief Scientific Officer of MacrophOx, which is developing innovative gene-modified cellular therapies for cancer treatment.

Professor Seymour is an Executive Council Member of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy of Cancer and was the founding President of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy.


Julian Smazynski

Julian Smazynski

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.


Uri Tabori

Uri Tabori

Dr. Uri Tabori is pediatric Oncologist and Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the Institute of Medical Science and Paediatrics within the University of Toronto.

Based on his clinical background and expertise, Dr. Tabori’s research focuses on translational aspects of cancer originating from patients’ needs from basic discoveries and clinical trials to changes in how society is managing specific cancers. Specifically, Dr. Tabori focuses on the development of systems for early detection, intervention and therapeutics in individuals who are highly predisposed to developing brain tumors.

Dr. Tabori leads the international bMMRD consortium which supports patients and families in diagnosis management and therapies in 45 countries. The consortium is running international clinical trials for children with hypermutant cancers with immune checkpoint inhibitors and combinations. Dr. Tabori is also developing animal models and companion biomarkers designed for immunotherapy therapeutics.

Dr. Tabori also co-leads the pediatric low grade glioma taskforce, which uncovers novel alterations in this most common brain tumor in children, and offers targeted therapies and trials. He is responsible for the development of companion biomarkers for these trials.

Dr. Tabori has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Canadian Cancer Society’s Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize in 2016, and the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Development in Innovation in 2014. He also and holds the Garron Family Chair appointment in Childhood Cancer Research.


Marianne Taylor

Marianne Taylor

Dr. Taylor did her medical training in Ontario. She completed her MBA at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2013 and a master’s in healthcare quality in 2017.

Dr. Taylor has been a practicing medical oncologist for close to 30 years and is an associate professor at UBC. She has held leadership positions at BC Cancer from 2004 to 2016. From 2012-2016 she was the VP of Systemic Therapy at the BC Cancer and in this role one of her primary responsibilities was managing the provincial Cancer Drug budget. Dr. Taylor was previously chair of the provincial advisory committee at pCODR and now sits on pCODR’s expert review committee. She is the staff medical oncologist for the Drug Funding Sustainability project at the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies, assisting the provinces with implementation issues with new cancer drugs.


Frank Tufaro

Frank Tufaro

Frank Tufaro, PhD is the President and CEO of DNAtrix. Frank began his career in research as a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia, where his work focused on virus-host interactions. Previously, Frank earned his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Baltimore, MD with Professor Steven McKnight. In 1998, Frank was part of the founding team of NeuroVir, a biotech company in Vancouver, Canada, that developed the first oncolytic herpes simplex virus for the treatment of brain tumors in a U.S. clinical trial. In 2001, Frank joined NeuroVir as CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board, where he was instrumental in raising venture financing and negotiating a successful merger with MediGene AG. Following the merger, Frank served as Managing Director of MediGene AG. From 2003 to 2005, Frank served as CEO and co-founder of Nurel Therapeutics, a biotech company developing gene therapies for pain, peripheral neuropathy, and cancer. Two years prior to joining DNAtrix in 2007, Frank founded and served as President and CEO of Allera Health Products, a company developing immune products for general health. Frank currently serves on several boards and continues to actively review grants and publications in the field of cancer gene therapy.


Brittany Umer

Brittany Umer

Brittany is a PhD student in the Medical Microbiology and Immunology program at the University of Alberta. Her research investigates methods of improving oncolytic vaccinia virus immunotherapy for breast cancer treatment. In addition to her studies, Brittany is a passionate advocate for patient engagement in research, and helped to develop the BioCanRx-Cancer Stakeholder Alliance Learning Institute. This initiative pairs cancer patients with early stage immuno-oncology researchers to create a bi-directional model of learning. By forming relationships between scientists and patients, Brittany hopes to help accelerate health research and better impact patient care.


Nathan L. Vanderford

Nathan L. Vanderford

Dr. Vanderford is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine within the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology. He also holds several administrative positions including Assistant Director for Research for the Markey Cancer Center, Director of Administration for the Center for Cancer and Metabolsim, and Director of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology Program at UK. In these administrative positions, he works to facilitate research and education initiaties across the university. Dr. Vanderford has an award-winning history of teaching and mentoring trainees and in creating innovative career development experiences and opportunities for trainees, including designing a career development course and facilitating experiential learning activities. He recently co-authored “ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists” (Academic Press) that focuses on guiding trainees’ career development. He has also published several articles on the topic of improving graduate education in high impact journals including Science, Nature, and Nature Biotechnology. He is involved in career development activities at the national level where he serves on several national committees and advisory groups including those associated with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


Nicholas Vitanza

Nicholas Vitanza

Dr. Nicholas Vitanza is a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a research scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, USA. In clinic, he cares for children with central nervous system (CNS) tumors and, in the lab, he studies diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). His prior work has illuminated the transcriptional dependencies of DIPG and identified novel agents, as well as combinatorial treatment strategies, that have entered clinical trials. His current research aims to identify critical vulnerabilities within DIPG that can be targeted both molecularly and immunotherapeutically, with the hope of improving outcomes for affected children. He also directs CNS CAR T cell clinical trials and is the principal investigator of BrainChild-01, a locoregional CAR T cell trial targeting HER2 for children with recurrent/refractory CNS tumors, and BrainChild-03, a locoregional CAR T cell trial targeting B7-H3 for children with recurrent/refractory CNS tumors and DIPG.


Alyssa Vito

Alyssa Vito

Alyssa’s connection to the cancer community began at an early age, volunteering at Credit Valley Hospital. She obtained her BSc in Biochemistry from Eastern Michigan University, during which time she was a varsity rower and an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society. Upon completion of her BSc, Alyssa moved to Toronto and worked as a clinical assistant to an orthopaedic surgeon, while also resuming her volunteer efforts with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). During this time Alyssa got the shocking diagnosis of stage II triple-negative breast cancer. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, all at the same cancer centre where she had volunteered for years. This diagnosis prompted a career shift and Alyssa moved to Hamilton to begin her MSc at McMaster University. Alyssa completed her MSc in 2015 in the department of chemical biology. Her thesis focused on the development of molecular imaging probes for breast cancer. She is currently a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Karen Mossman, also at McMaster University. Her PhD work focuses on novel immunotherapies for triple-negative breast cancer.

Alyssa remains an active advocate for CCS through speaking engagements, advocacy, volunteering at local events and through her leadership as the chair for the Hamilton RIOT team. Through her personal and professional ties, she displays her passion for cancer research, awareness and education. Her extensive outreach work, paired with her research contributions to the field have been acknowledged with many awards and accomplishments, most notably being the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.


Marie-Ève Wedge

Marie-Ève Wedge

Marie-Ève Wedge is a PhD candidate in Dr. Carolina Ilkow's lab at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. After completing her undergraduate degree in microbiology at the Université Laval she decided to pursue her training in cancer research using oncolytic virotherapy. Her work is currently focused on finding novel methods to target pancreatic cancers using oncolytic viruses and extracellular vesicles.


Samuel Workenhe

Samuel Workenhe

Dr. Samuel Workenhe is Assistant Professor at McMaster University. Dr. Workenhe is a trained veterinarian and immunologist who has contributed significantly to the field of immunity against viruses and cancer. Despite the enormous impact of immunotherapy in cancer medicine, many tumor types hide from immune recognition by orchestrating adaptive resistance mechanisms. Dr. Workenhe’s extensive work has contributed to the understanding of early immunological events that predict the success of oncolytic viruses. In particular, his published studies have shown that the type of cancer cell death activated during virotherapy predicts the ability of the immune system to recognize tumors. As a result, his current research program is investigating the mechanisms and immunotherapeutic outcome of rewiring tumor cell death during virotherapy. In addition to providing basic knowledge of tumor immunology, Dr. Workenhe’s research will be instrumental in developing immunotherapies that will benefit many Canadians.