On 15-16 November, 2013, cancer researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of São Paulo came together at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto to share their knowledge and explore opportunities for collaboration at a special conference enabled by the strong research partnership between these two world-class universities. The conference was focused on three areas of research: immunology and immunotherapy, bioinformatics and biomarkers, imaging, and clinical oncology, four key aspects along the spectrum of oncology research. The finale of Friday’s scientific session was a public lecture by Dr. Steven Narod on Cancer in the Era of Personalised Medicine/Modern Approaches to Cancer Prevention, followed by a panel discussion, withleading experts from Toronto’s cutting-edge cancer research institutes.
Following a day of intense discussion, the scientists from UofT and USP reconvened on Saturday morning to explore opportunities for collaboration and develop concepts for submission to the Joint Call for Proposals for Collaborative Research Projects, funding provided by UofT and USP to allow researchers from both institutions to work together on collaborative projects
—8:30: Welcoming remarks
Vice-President, University Relations, University of Toronto
Ms. Judith Wolfson holds the position of Vice-President, University Relations at the University of Toronto. She was appointed to that position on July 17, 2006.
The Vice-President, University Relations has responsibility for building and maintaining the University of Toronto’s institutional relationships with international partners, governments, other public sector institutions, private sector and community partners, and the university’s broad range of stakeholders.
Immediately prior to joining the University of Toronto, Ms. Wolfson spent eight years as President and CEO of Interac Association/Acxsys Corp., which manages Canada’s shared network of electronic financial services including the national system of ATMs and Debit Card services. Prior to entering the financial services industry, Ms. Wolfson spent more than ten years with the Government of Ontario. During her tenure she served as Deputy Minister with the Ministries of Intergovernmental Affairs, Consumer and Commercial Relations and Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.
Ms. Wolfson has served on numerous Advisory Groups and Boards of Directors in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. In 2003, Ms. Wolfson received the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Anniversary Medal for leadership and service to the community, in recognition of her contribution as a leader in a wide range of major community organizations.
Ms. Wolfson graduated from University of Toronto earning an LLB in 1980 and a Masters in Social Work in 1972.
Raul Felipe Papaleo has more than 25 years of experience in the Information Technology sector, most of which in direct contact with clients. Prior to that, Raul worked for over 14 years in the Appliance Manufacturing business. He joined Hewlett-Packard Brazil in 1989 as Manufacturing and R&D Director. Within HP he had a multitude of assignments in Brazil , Latin America and several other places. Ten years later, he left to serve as General Manager for SID Informática, a subsidiary of the Sharp Group in Brazil with specific charter to sell the Company in part or as a whole. After that he served for two years as General Manager for Spectra Telecom, an engineering Company in the area of Cellular telephony belonging to the SNC Lavalin Group based in Montreal, Canada. Raul Felipe returned to HP in 2002 to assist on the restructuring efforts resulted from the merger with COMPAQ, reporting directly to the General Manager. He has been an active Member of the IBGC (Instituto Brasileiro de Governança Corporativa) – Brazilian Institute For Corporate Governance, where he is serving in the Human Resources Committee and the Non-Listed Companies Committee. From 2008 until today, Raul Felipe has taken on Consulting assignments for international blue-chip corporations as well as Academic endeavors in Brazil. He has currently been using his experience together with the ability to share his time between Canada/USA and Brazil to structure several services directed to Companies interested in doing business in both countries. This role has been emphasized by his current position as President of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) in Toronto.
Raul Machado Neto
Vice-President for International Relations Board, Universidade de São Paulo
Dr. Neto is a Professor at the University of São Paulo, and a Research Fellow of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. He is a reviewer for the Brazilian Journal of Animal Science, Journal of Agricultural Sciences, and Journal of the Archives of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Science and Livestock.
His experience and research interest is in animal science, with emphasis on training and transfer of passive immunity in domestic animals. He is focused on the following areas: colostrum, passive immunity, domestic animals newborns.
Professor Peter Lewis was appointed Associate Vice President, Research and Innovation of the University of Toronto in October, 2009. His focus is Global Research Partnerships including oversight of the Innovations and Partnerships Office. A highly respected and accomplished biochemist, Professor Lewis has been an academic leader, faculty member and researcher at U of T since 1974. Prior to joining the Office of the Vice President, Research, Professor Lewis served as Vice Dean, Research and International Relations in the Faculty of Medicine for seven years. He served as Chair of the U of T Department of Biochemistry from 1991-2001. His research interests include epigenetics, protein folding and proteomics. Professor Lewis received his undergraduate education at the University of Calgary and his doctorate at Cornell University. He was made a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2010 and serves on several boards of directors.
—8:45: Session One
Immunology & Immunotherapy
Chair: Pam Ohashi
Professor, Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology, UofT; Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institue & UHN
Dr. Ohashi’s lab has focused on understanding the mechanisms that determine whether T cells are activated or tolerized in vivo. They use a variety of transgenic and gene knock out mouse models to evaluate the molecular pathways that govern T cell fate. In particular, they examine how to promote T cell responses to tissues, with a goal to understand and control autoimmune and anti-tumor immune responses.
Their recent studies have examined novel ways that dendritic cells are programmed to influence T cell function in vivo. In addition they are focused on how the tissue or tumor microenvironment can have a significant impact on T cell responses.
Importantly, Ohashi’s interests have also expanded to establishing an immune therapy platform. Ohashi’s group has developed the ability to grow tumor infiltrating T cells and characterize their properties. She has also coordinated clinical trials and are building towards a comprehensive program in immune therapy.
“Adoptive cell therapy using genetically modified artificial antigen presenting cells”
Associate Professor, Department of Immunology, UofT; Scientist and Associate Director for Research, Immune Therapy Program, UHN
The overarching goal of our research is to devise novel antitumour immunotherapeutic modalities that can cure cancer. We have developed a series of human cell-based artificial antigen-presenting cells (APC) that can generate in vitro large numbers of HLA class I-restricted CD8+ T cells, class II-restricted CD4+ T cells, polyclonal CD3+ T cells, and CD1d-restricted invariant natural killer T cells. Using these artificial APC, we are conducting basic, translational, and clinical research in human T cell immunology. In the clinic, we have conducted first-in-human clinical trials where cancer patients are infused with large numbers of antitumor HLA class I-restricted CD8+ T cells generated in vitro using our artificial APC. We have demonstrated that infusion of aAPC-educated antitumor T cells can traffic to tumor, induce clinical responses, and establish long-term antitumor memory without requiring the use of toxic in vivo modulation such as lymphodepletion or cytokine therapy. Furthermore, we have shown that CTLA-4 blockade can enhance the biological response caused by adoptive transfer of antitumor T cells. Based on these successes, we are initiating our next clinical trials where aAPC-based adoptive therapy is combined with immune modulators such as T cell receptor gene transfer, checkpoint inhibitors, lymphodepletion, cytokines, or vaccination to improve tumor regression and patient prognosis. We are also currently producing a clinical grade second generation aAPC that can expand TIL regardless of HLA allele expression or antigen specificity. In the laboratory, we are interested in understanding how the interactions between T cells and APC affect priming, expansion, persistence and differentiation of T cells. We also seek to clarify how this leads to the subsequent generation and maintenance of T cell memory. Other studies ongoing in our laboratory include delineation of the relation between T cell receptor centricity and its avidity, separation of allo- and tumor-specific T cell responses at the molecular level, and elucidation of the avidity threshold for negative selection in the human thymus.
Gustavo Amarante-Mendes graduated in Biomedical Sciences (1984) at Santo Amaro University and got his Masters (1989) and Ph.D. (1993) in Immunology at the University of São Paulo. He was a a pos-doc and then a Research Associate (1995-1997) at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (San Diego, CA) and a Visiting Scientist to the Department of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin (2003-2004). In 2013 he was assign Professor of Immunology at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo. Amarante-Mendes is the current Vice-President of the Brazilian Society of Immunology and a member of the editorial board of Cell Death and Disease, a Nature Journal Group. He has experience in the areas of Immunology, Cell Biology and Experimental Oncology, with focus on the following topics: cell death, apoptosis, signaling, immunoregulation, oncogenes, chronic myeloid leukemia.
“TNFR family members and control of viral infection”
Professor, Department of Immunology, UofT
Dr. Watts studies T cells, TNFR family members and the balance between immune control and immune pathology during acute and chronic viral infection; Lymphocyte survival and T cell memory. Watt’s lab has shown that the TNFR family members 4-1BB and GITR are critical for sustaining CD8 T cell survival in the lung during acute severe respiratory influenza infection. We provided evidence that the immune system uses antigen–inducible TNFRs such as 4-1BB to control the duration of T cell response according to the persistence of the virus, thereby allowing a response that is sufficient to clear the virus, but is down regulated once the virus is cleared to protect the host from pathology (2-5). This led us to ask what happens when the virus cannot be cleared, such as occurs with HIV infection of humans or lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus clone 13 infection of mice.
Another interest of our laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that control the persistence of memory T cells as well as the survival of immune related cancer cells. Further, Watts’ lab also has a strong interest in T cell immunity to viruses, including HIV and influenza virus, in humans.
—10:00: Session Two
Biomarkers & Bioinformatics
Chair: David Andrews
Professor Department of Medical Biophysics, UofT; Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Andrews’ research interests include the interactions of proteins in cellular membranes, the molecular mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis, high content screening, the development of new fluorescence microscopes and automated image analysis.
He currently holds grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ontario Centers of Excellence, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and research contracts from industry. He has published more than 100 original research papers in peer reviewed journals including: Cell, PLOS Biology, Mol. Cell, Nature Medicine etc. He founded and for 7 years was the director of the McMaster Biophotonics Facility. He is currently head of Biological Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute.
“Large-scale non-coding RNAs gene expression and its possible functional role in cancer”
Professor, Chemistry Institute, USP
Dr. Verjovski-Almeida graduated in Medicine from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1974), MA in Biophysics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1976) and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1979), under the direction of Leopoldo de Meis. He was a fellow of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of USA (1976-1978) working with G. Inesi at the University of the Pacific, San Francisco, California. Verjovski-Almeida was also Visiting researcher at the Department of Genetics , Yale University, New Haven , Connecticut (1991-1992) , working with Carolyn W. Slayman . He was also a professor and researcher at the Department of Medical Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro from 1979 to 1993. Since 1994 he has been a professor of the Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo. Furthermore, Dr. Verjovski-Almeida is a Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, being admitted in 1984. He was admitted to the class of Commander of the National Order of Scientific Merit in 2006.
Dr. Verjovski-Almeida has experience in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, with focus on the following subjects: ( 1 ) large scale non-coding RNAs gene expression in human tissues and cells and its possible functional role in cancer, and ( 2 ) large-scale gene expression in Schistosoma mansoni, using microarrays.
“MicroRNA biology and biomarkers in prostate cancer”
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UofT; Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Liu a Clinician-Scientist and Radiation Oncologist at the Sunnybrook-Odette Cancer Centre, and Assistant Professor within the Departments of Medical Biophysics, and Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto. His research goal is to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients by researching mechanisms of treatment resistance and integrating novel, molecular, targeted agents with radiotherapy.
To accomplish this, his lab is investigating the following:
1. microRNAs (miRNA) that are involved in therapy response. His lab has identified and is elucidating the mechanism of several candidate miRNA that are involved in mediating cellular response to radiation and chemotherapy. They are also investigating their use as biomarkers to predict for the presence of aggressive cancer.
2. The Angiopoietin-1/ Tie2 pathway to minimize toxicity from radiation treatment. A potent, well-tolerated Ang-1 mimetic (Vasculotide) has been developed by Dr. Dan Dumont’s lab, and Dr. Liu’s lab is investigating whether Vasculotide can improve the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy by providing protection to surrounding organs.
Specialities: Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Breast cancer, Prostate cancer, Translational research
“Charting the epigenome of human gilomas”
Professor, Italian National Research Council – ICTP
Dr. Noushmehr graduated in Physiological Sciences and History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (1999), MSc in Biology from California State University (CSULA), Los Angeles (2003); MSc in Bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) (2006) and Ph.D. in Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Southern California (USC) (2011). He completed his post-doctoral studies in the area of genetics at USC and has experience in the areas of General Biology, with an emphasis in Molecular Biology, Epigenetics, DNA Methylation, Cancer genomics and Bioinformatics. He is a member of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) where he participates as an analyst for cancers related to the central nervous system (Glioblastoma multiforme and lower grade gliomas). He has experience in designing and developing bioinformatics algorithms to aid in the analysis of big data generated from genomics and epigenomics. Currently, he is a Professor of Bioinformatics at Faculty of Medicine at Ribeirão Preto, University of Sao Paulo.
“What are the general properties of –omic biomarkers?”
Professor, Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, McGill University
Paul received his undergraduate education in Chemistry from the University of Waterloo. In 2004, he started his PhD at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, focusing on the development of novel biomarkers to predict cancer progression. During his studies he received several awards, including the CIHR/Next Generation First Prize, the Invitrogen Canada Young Investigator Silver Award. In 2008 he received his PhD, and immediately started his independent research career with an appointment at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research as an Institute Fellow. Paul focused on applying microarray technologies to improve diagnosis and treatment of lung, pancreatic, and breast cancer. After two years, Paul was promoted to Principal Investigator, and in 2011 he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Boutros’ current research focuses on developing novel computational methods to eliminate noise from new DNA-sequencing technologies, and on developing statistical machine-learning methods to optimize cancer patient treatment based on molecular characteristics of their tumour. The major goal of his research is to supplement traditional staging criteria – which are usually based on how large a tumour is and how far it has spread – with new molecular information. He leads the bioinformatics analysis of the sequencing of 500 prostate cancers as part of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Genome Network (CPC-GENE), and is using these data to develop biomarkers for intermediate risk prostate cancer.
Joao Carlos Setubal
“Bioinformatics capabilities and current projects of the Setubal lab”
Dr. Setubal is Professor, Department of Biochemistry Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo and Collaborating Professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (USA). He has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Washington (1992). He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of São Paulo (1979) and Masters in Computer Science from the State University of Campinas (1987). He was a professor at the Institute of Computing of UNICAMP from 1986 to 2005 and professor/researcher at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech (USA) from 2004 to 2011. He works in the area of bioinformatics and is coordinator of the Center for Research in Genomic Sciences at USP.
Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker received his Ph.D. from the George Washington University, in 1991. He did his graduate studies with Ada Kruisbeek at the National Cancer Institute, and then a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with Michael Lenardo. He has been at the University of Toronto, Canada, since 1994, where he is presently a Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology, and also since 2001 at the Sunnybrook Research Institute as a Senior Scientist. He currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Immunology, and has over 130 publications. His laboratory studies hematopoiesis, pre-T cell receptor and Notch signaling, and lymphocyte lineage commitment of stem cells, with a focus on developing model systems for the study of lymphocyte development from stem cells. His lab helped to uncover the role of Notch signaling in mediating T-lineage differentiation, which led to the creation of the OP9-DL1 system for the in vitro generation of T cells from multiple sources of stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and induced-pluripotent stem cells.
—1:45: Session Three
Chair: Martin Yaffe
Department of Radiology and Medical Biophysics, UofT; Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Director, Smarter Imaging Program, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Research in Dr. Yaffe’s lab is directed toward using the techniques of physics and engineering to develop new and more powerful diagnostic imaging methods for breast cancer. Research projects include: development of ultra-high resolution digital X-ray detectors, and investigation of new applications such as 3-dimensional imaging techniques for breast cancer (tomosynthesis), quantitative imaging analysis for risk prediction and the use of computer-aided detection algorithms for image processing. New areas of research include development of 3-dimensional quantitative pathology techniques, multiplexed analysis of biomarkers and functional imaging methods to characterize breast cancer and possibly help avoid overtreatment.
“Imaging with nanoparticles”
Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics; Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute; Team Lead, Techna Institute, UHN
The main interest of the Zheng group is to develop translatable technology platforms to combat cancer. His lab pioneered the activatable photodynamic therapy concept, developed the lipoprotein-like nanoparticles for drug delivery, and recently discovered porphysome nanotechnology that opens a new frontier in cancer imaging and therapy.
“Modifying tumour vasculature function, an imaging approach”
Professor, Faculty of Medicine, USP
Dr. Chammas graduated in Medicine (1988) and received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, Biochemistry (1993) from the University of São Paulo. He specialized in the field of Glycobiology, at the University of California, San Diego (1994-1997). He was also a visiting researcher to the Friedrich – Miescher Institut , Basel , Switzerland (1991), the Harvard School of Public Health (1993 ), Federal University of São Paulo, UNIFESP – EPM ( 1998-1999) and the Moffitt Cancer Reserch Center, Tampa, United States (2011-2012).Since 2000, he has operated in the Faculty of Medicine, USP, where he is currently Professor. Furthermore, Dr. Chammas is the coordinator of the Postgraduate Oncology USP program (2007 – current) , as well as serving as editor of the sectional Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research (area: Cell Biology) since 2001, and as academic publisher of PLoS One, since 2009.
His area of interest is Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Cancer, working in tumor progression, progression markers carbohydrate- dependent and the characterization of tumor micro-environments.
“Imaging techniques for quantitative pathology”
Research Associate, Biomarker Imaging Research Lab (BIRL), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Gina Clarke leads the research team at the BIRL. A Research Associate at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, she completed a master’s degree in upper atmospheric physics at York University. Motivated by the potential to help patients, her interests then shifted from imaging the atmosphere to imaging cancer. Consequently she pursued a PhD in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, and in this program developed the basis for many of the methods employed routinely in the BIRL. She subsequently led an initiative resulting in licensing for these methods for routine patient care.
The BIRL provides researchers with advanced techniques for histopathology and immunohistochemistry imaging. These techniques are key in the accurate validation of novel techniques for cancer imaging. Clarke receives funding from OICR as an investigator in the Pathology Validation Project, part of the Imaging Translation Platform. A strong focus in the BIRL is application of the techniques to obtain more patient-specific molecular ‘signatures’ of cancer through tumour biomarkers.
Clarke’s lab has a trial underway to validate the whole-mount technique compared to the conventional methods used in pathology, comparing key, prognostic tumour measurements. Preliminary data suggests that the whole-mount technique more accurately represents the full extent of disease, its relationship to the specimen margins, and biomarker expression, enabling more accurate treatment planning.
—3:00: Session Four
Dr. Liu’s research program is focused on investigating and developing novel molecular therapeutic strategies for human malignancies, delivered in conjunction with radiation therapy, along with investigating molecular aberrancies for several human cancers including breast, cervix, and head/neck cancers. Dr. Liu has >130 peer-reviewed publications on these topics, and has filed three patents. She currently holds peer-reviewed research funding from agencies including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI), and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR). She is also the Director of a $1.9M CIHR/Terry Fox Foundation Research Training Initiative, entitled “Excellence in Radiation Research for the 21st Century (EIRR21)”, with the objective to train the next generation of trans-disciplinary scientists in Radiation Medicine.
Maria Carolina Rodrigues
“Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for sickle cell anemia and autoimmune diseases—Brazilian experience”
Professor, Division of Immunology, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ribeirão Preto, USP
Dr. Rodrigues completed her residency at the Medical Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto (USP), rheumatology and acquired the title of specialist in rheumatology in 2001. This followed completing an MA (2006) and Ph.D. (2010) in Clinical Medicine from the University of São Paulo. From May 2010 to September 2011, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship, funded by FAPESP, at the University of South Florida, studying effects of blood cells from the umbilical cord of animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She has also worked in the medical assistant’s Hospital of Ribeirão Preto with with the Units of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Immune Therapy since 2004. She was also a fellow of the Foundation Blood Center of Ribeirão Preto, from 2002 to 2004, specializing in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Dr Rodrigues conducts research in the area of cell therapy for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, conducting clinical research projects related to stem cell transplantation for autoimmune diseases, including: type-1 diabetes, systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and chronic demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (PIDC), among others. She also participates in research on infusions of mesenchymal cells to treat type-1 diabetes. Dr Rodrigues continues to participate in international protocols (U.S., France and England) of cell therapy for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. She became Full Professor in June 2013.
“A molecular framework for clinical management of paediatric embryonal brain tumours”
Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics, UofT; Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Research Program and Principal Investigator, Labatt’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children
Dr. Annie Huang was appointed to the Paediatric Brain Tumour Program, Division of Haematology/Oncology in July, 2002 as a Clinician Scientist. Dr. Huang received her PhD and MD degrees from the University of Toronto in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Following residency training in medical genetics and paediatrics at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Dr. Huang completed fellowship training in paediatric haematology/oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children (1999-2000) and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital (2001-2002).
Dr. Huang’s lab research is focused on rare embryonal brain tumours of childhood which comprise orphan diseases for which there is very poor understanding of molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic pathways. Projects in the Huang lab exploit both advanced genomics and cell biology tools to define etiologic genes and signaling pathways important in CNS-PNET and ATRTs – two highly lethal rare brain tumours of childhood. Their work has led to discoveries of novel diagnostic markers for rare pediatric brain tumours and is providing important new knowledge to inform a molecular framework for clinical and biological investigations of these poorly studied tumours.
Eduardo Magalhães Rego
“The impact of networking on the quality of care and medical research in developing countries: the experience of the International Consortium on Acute Leukemia”
Professor of Hematology/Oncology, Faculty of Medicine Ribeirão Preto, USP
The main focus of Dr. Rego’s group is to integrate basic and clinical research on acute leukemias, in special acute myeloid leukemias. In order to have a better insight on the molecular basis of leukemogenesis, they have been studying acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) as a model. They have been addressing the following questions: 1. Which cell subpopulation acts the leukemia initiating cells and how is quiescence and energy generation regulated in this subset; 2. Which microRNAs act as key regulators of differentiation in APL blasts and whether their expression profile are associated with treatment outcome; 3. Does the expression of transcriptinally active and inactive isoforms of the p73 gene affect the response to ATRA and if so how? 4. What is the role of microparticles and annexin II expression in APL-associated coagulopathy; 5 Can the molecular monitoring of the PML/RARA fusion gene using RQ-PCR technology predict relapse better than the routinely used RT-PCR method?; 6. Is leukemia relapse is associated with additional mutagenic events? 7. In leukemia prone syndromes, such as dyskeratosis congenita, which pathways confer survival advantage to hematopoietic progenitors and are associated in malignant transformation. Finally, their group is coordinating in Brazil the International Consortium on APL, which is a trial aiming to improve the treatment outcome of APL patients in developing countries.
“Development of a preventive anti-adhesive vaccine against metastatic cancer”
Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, UofT; Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
The main focus of Dr. Jean Gariépy is a Professor in the departments of Medical Biophysics and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto. He was originally trained as a peptide chemist and biophysicist at the University of Alberta and as a peptide/protein engineer at Stanford University in the areas of bacterial toxins and infectious diseases. Dr. Gariépy is also the Director of the Molecular Targeting and Therapeutics Laboratory as well as the SRI Research Chair in Biomolecular Engineering at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. Dr. Gariépy has had a long standing interest in developing new technologies in the field of biotherapies, being cited as an inventor or co-inventor on 6 granted patents and 17 patent applications. He was the co-founder, as well as a director [2000-2008] and CSO [2000-2009] of Molecular Templates, Inc. (MTI; www.moleculartemplates.com) a biotechnology company that focuses on the development of protein-based biotherapeutics (Engineered Toxin Bodies) in the area of Oncology. MTI moved to Austin, Texas in May 2008 where it has recently secured US$19.1M in Series C financing and grant funding to pursue clinical trials for multiple oncologic indications. Dr. Gariépy recently co-founded D5Pharma, a discovery company focusing on identifying functional aptamers that block inflammatory responses. In partnership with the University of Toronto, his group is also developing a preventive vaccine against metastatic cancer. Finally, Dr. Gariépy has been funded and has interacted with several pharmaceutical companies in the past including Sanofi Pasteur, Shire and more recently GSK.
—5:00: Session Three: Public Lecture, Steven Narod
Modern Approaches to Cancer Prevention
“Modern Approaches to Cancer Prevention”
Professor, Department of Medicine & Dalla Lana School of Public Health, UofT; Senior Scientist and Director, Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit
Dr. Steven Narod is a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer. He is internationally recognized for his research on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, that when mutated, substantially increase a woman’s lifetime risk of breast or ovarian cancer. He also studies various aspects of cancer prevention and screening. With more than 600 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 92, he is the most-cited researcher in the world in the field of breast cancer. In 2012, Dr. Narod was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Narod has studied hereditary breast cancer since 1987 at the International Agency in Research in Cancer in Lyon France with Dr Gilbert Lenoir. He reactivated his career in Canada in 1995 at McGill University under Dr David Rosenblatt working with Dr Patricia Tonin and Dr William Foulkes. He is a co-discoverer of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and since their discoveries in 1994 and 1995, he has studied the distribution of mutations worldwide. His team have identified founder mutations in the Ashkenazi-Jewish, French-Canadian, and Bahamian populations. His recent research has revealed that one per cent of Jewish women in Ontario carry a BRCA1/2 mutation, that half of these women are not eligible for provincially-funded genetic testing. Most recently, Dr. Narod’s collaborative research showed that women in Poland with BRCA1mutations have a 46 per cent lower risk of breast cancer than women in North America with the same mutation. Dr. Narod’s seminal discoveries have stemmed from both his laboratory and his database – the largest of its kind – of over 14,300 women with mutations from 79 centres across 14 countries. He has advanced cancer genetics around the world through collaboration with experts in over 30 countries in North America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. His research has been instrumental in understanding the role of hereditary factors in breast and ovarian cancer, and he continues to translate the emerging knowledge into more effective strategies for cancer prevention, detection and management. Dr Narod’s influence during the last 15 years has profoundly shaped current knowledge of how to assess breast and ovarian cancer risk and reduce its mortality amongst carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations.
Moderator: Kelly Metcalfe
Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, UofT; Adjunct Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute
Dr. Kelly Metcalfe is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery, at the University of Toronto and an adjunct scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute. In addition, Dr. Metcalfe is currently the Interim Associate Dean of Research and External Relations at the Faculty of Nursing. Dr. Metcalfe’s research focuses on the prevention and treatment of breast cancer in high risk women, most specifically those with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. She has published extensively in these areas, and has led international studies resulting in seminal research papers on the topic of treatment of BRCA-associated breast cancer. She is currently leading a multi-disciplinary study to assess the provision of rapid genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 at the time of breast cancer diagnosis. Dr. Metcalfe holds research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. She has previously received a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the “Excellence in Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Award” from the Oncology Nursing Society.
Professor, Departments of Paediatrics and Medical Biophysics, UofT; Staff Oncologist, Senior Scientist and Director of the Cancer Genetics Program, The Hospital for Sick Children
Dr. Malkin received his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1984 and completed his residency in paediatrics and paediatric hematology/oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He completed post-doctoral research training in molecular genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, where he discovered the link between germline mutations on the p53 tumor suppressor gene and the Li-Fraumeni cancer susceptibility syndrome. Dr. Malkin returned to Canada to accept a faculty position at SickKids and University of Toronto.
His research interests are closely integrated with his clinical field of expertise. Specifically, his research program focuses primarily on genetic mechanisms of childhood cancer susceptibility, and the genetic basis of childhood sarcomas (cancers of bone, muscle and other soft tissues). His research team was the first to demonstrate that highly variable regions of DNA, termed copy number variations, are found in excess in the blood of some people, both children and adults, at very high risk of developing cancer, and may represent the earliest genetic changes that ultimately lead to development of cancer. Recently, his work has focused on application of this genetic/genomic information to develop rational clinical surveillance for early tumor detection, and treatment guidelines for children and adults deemed at genetic ‘high risk’ for cancer. In his sarcoma work, Dr. Malkin has studied the molecular and cell biology pathways that are associated with the development and progression of these cancers, and has identified molecules that might represent viable targets for novel drug therapies.
Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UofT; Crashley Chair in Gynecologic Oncology Research, UHN
Currently Professor at the University of Toronto and former Head of the Divisions of Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at UHN, Dr. Murphy holds the Crashley Chair in Gynecologic Oncology Research at UHN.
She has been active in various aspects of postgraduate and subspecialty education. After an early interest in research into photodynamic therapy, she remains active in various areas of clinical and translational research including preinvasive lower genital tract disease in women, familial ovarian cancer and ovarian cancer risk reduction. In her role as Clinical Lead of Cancer Care at Ontario’s Cervical Screening Program, she has introduced significant changes to cervical cancer screening in the province.
Her clinical activities include colposcopy, radical surgery, robotic and laparoscopic surgery and all aspects of gynecologic oncology, the genetics of ovarian cancer, and the broader implications of oncology issues in the emerging area of Women’s Health.
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UofT; Scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Eileen Rakovitch MD MSc FRCPC is the medical director of the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre, staff radiation oncologist, the LC Campbell Research Chair in Breast Cancer Research and Lead of the Breast Program at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She is an Associate Professor and Clinician Scientist at the University of Toronto, Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She has an active clinical practice and leads a research program that aims to improve the care of women with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ and to identify women with DCIS who are at greatest risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
Lillian L Siu
Professor, Department of Medicine, UofT; Director of the Phase I Program and Co-Director of the Robert and Maggie Bras and Family Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Dr. Lillian Siu is a Senior Staff Physician in the Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre since 1998, and is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Siu is Director of the Phase I Program and Co-Director of the Robert and Maggie Bras and Family Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Dr. Siu’s major research focus is in the area of new anticancer drug development, particularly with respect to phase I trials and head and neck malignancies. She is the principal investigator of a phase I cooperative agreement U01 award (2008-2014) sponsored by the United States National Cancer Institute, which aims to expedite the access and evaluation of novel anti-cancer agents.
Internationally, Dr. Siu was the recipient of the US NCI Michaele C. Christian Award in Oncology Drug Development in 2010. Dr. Siu was the Neuroendocrine Tumor Task Force Chair in the North American Gastrointestinal Intergroup Scientific Steering Committee from 2007-9; and she was the ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants Selection Committee Chair in 2009-10. Dr. Siu was the Chairperson of the AACR Education Committee and Co-Chairperson of the Scientific Committee for the 2012 Annual Meeting. She serves on the ASCO Board of Directors for 2012-2016. Locally, Dr. Siu has been awarded the Wightman-Berris Award for Individual Teaching Excellence by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in 2003 and in 2013. Dr. Siu has published over 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and is currently an editor for the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer Discovery.