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Dr. Robert Holt: What Motivates Me

I’m motivated by the success of new cancer treatments that activate a patient’s natural anti-cancer immunity. These positive results are hard won, following more than two decades of intensive research around the world, and unfortunately we don’t see the positive results in all patients. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that when we do research we do not know what will work and what won’t. There are steps forward and back. However, with continued effort on multiple fronts, the factors that underlie successful treatment can be identified and used to inform the development of...

Dr. Robert Holt: Helping Immune Cells Win

Growing up in the lower mainland, I developed the need to figure out how things worked and, if they were broken, how to fix them. The complexities of living systems that derive from the inner workings of cells were the most fascinating and incomprehensible for me, so they were the ultimate challenge. Cellular properties are programmed in DNA, so to understand cells, and to understand living systems, it was necessary to know their genetic code – this is the direction I took. After university (at UBC and U of A), I moved to the USA to join the initial efforts to fully decode human DNA. When...

Introducing November Guest Bloggers: The Immunogenomics Team

Thank you to our October guest bloggers, the scientists and clinicians from the Deeley Research Centre. Thanks to the talent of this team and the tremendous generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors , immunotherapy clinical trials will be getting underway soon, for the benefit of British Columbians! This month, we’re pleased to welcome a group that works in close collaboration with the immunotherapy clinical trials team. Scientists in Dr. Robert Holt’s laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre are experts in the field of immunogenomics – the genetic sequencing and analysis...

Using Genetically Engineered Viruses to Enhance Immunity

Hello, my name is Kwame Twumasi-Boateng and it is my pleasure to wrap up a month of blogging with my immunotherapy colleagues at the BC Cancer Agency! Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow working at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) – a position I started in January 2013. During graduate school, I studied molecular details of aging and immunity in tiny worms. At the conclusion of my studies, I decided that I wanted to apply my training to a real world medical challenge – I felt cancer immunotherapy was an important problem that I could apply my skills to. Immunotherapy and Oncolytic Viruses...

Dr. Julie Nielsen: Developing T Cell-Based Therapies

Hello, I’m Dr. Julie Nielsen and I am happy to share an inside look at my work in immunotherapy on the BC Cancer Foundation blog. I started working at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) in October 2007. I had previously conducted research in cancer and medical genetics and joined the DRC because I wanted to help develop innovative strategies for treating cancer. The power and specificity of the immune system makes immunotherapy a very promising approach. The conversations I have with patients motivate me in my daily work – I am currently developing T cell-based therapies for cancer,...

David Kroeger: Strengthening the Immune Response to Cancer

Hello, my name is David Kroeger and I’m a postdoctoral fellow at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC). My PhD research at the University of Saskatchewan focused on understanding basic aspects of how T cells function. I came to the DRC hoping to use my expertise in T cell biology to help cancer patients. Decades of research have proven that the immune system has the capacity to recognize and destroy cancerous cells. However, only recently have we begun to be truly successful in harnessing the immune system for cancer therapy. A particular interest of mine involves tumour-infiltrating B cells and...

$4.2 Million Raised by BC Cancer Foundation Donors to Launch Immunotherapy Clinical Trials

Hello everyone, I’d like to briefly interrupt our October bloggers to share some very exciting news! Last night, BC Cancer Foundation donors came together at the 11 th annual Inspiration Gala and it was announced that $4.2 million had been raised to launch immunotherapy clinical trials at the BC Cancer Agency. This remarkable display of philanthropy was made possible through the contributions of more than 5,000 British Columbians who responded to a dollar-for-dollar match offer of up to $1 million gift from the Robert L. Conconi Foundation, and the tremendous generosity of Inspiration Gala...

Dr. Julian Lum: Giving Immune Cells an Advantage

Hello, I’m Dr. Julian Lum and I’m delighted to return as a BC Cancer Foundation blogger. I’ve been a scientist at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) since 2008 and am also an assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Victoria. I began my career in the field of translational HIV/AIDS immunology research, and subsequently moved to doing basic cancer research. My training and expertise in these areas led me to realize the important connection between cancer and immunology and resulted in two main areas of focus for my lab: a new field, which we...

Providing Vital Infrastructure for Immunotherapy Clinical Trials

Hello, my name is Siao Yong and I am the laboratory coordinator at the Deeley Research Centre. I’ve been with the DRC since 2005, beginning as a researcher and then moving to the administrative team in 2007. I first became interested in cancer research while seeing coverage of an Ebola outbreak and knew that I wanted to work with infectious diseases. I was lucky enough to work in a company specializing in therapeutic vaccines to stimulate the immune system to respond to HPV-related diseases. This started my interest in working in the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy. Facilitating...

Inside the Histology Lab with Katy Milne

Hello, I’m Katy Milne and I am a Research Assistant at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC). I started working here in 2003 when the DRC was just starting up – things have really changed over the past 12 years! Like most, I have known too many people with cancer. Because I’ve always found the human body fascinating, immunotherapy was a perfect fit for me - I think of it as our way of giving the body a hand to heal itself. Although survival rates for many types of cancer have improved, many British Columbians today still face a grim cancer prognosis. I’m hopeful that immunotherapy will move the...

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