Director, Trev & Joyce Deeley Research Centre

Hi, my name is Dr. Brad Nelson and I’m the Director of the Deeley Research Centre at the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria. I’m very pleased to be returning for a second time as guest blogger, and wanted to begin by sharing with you a bit about my daily work at the Centre:

I’m often asked, “What do you like most about your job?” That’s easy. I have a team of a dozen people, including graduate students, post-docs and research assistants. At any given time, we have 10-15 different experiments underway, so there is a constant stream of new results to discuss. Everyone in the lab knows that I am a “data junkie” who needs a regular “fix” of new information. Sometimes it feels agonizing to have to wait days, weeks or months for a result. In fact, our last big experiment was five years in the making. Yet the results were amazing! More on that later.

There’s nothing more exciting than finding out if you were right or wrong about an idea. To be honest, the most common outcome is part right/part wrong. Nature continually throws us curve balls, but that’s precisely how we learn to make decisions that ultimately shape new therapeutic strategies and future clinical trials. So for me, a good day is filled with data, because that brings us closer to a cure.

Of course, like any job, science brings other responsibilities too. As Department Head, about 25% of my time is filled with administrative responsibilities. I’m proud to say we run a small but highly efficient operation, and I’m happy to do my part to keep it that way.

The third main component of my work day involves communication and education. I regularly give talks to the public, meet one-on-one with patients and donors and tour groups through the Deeley Research Centre. I really enjoy meeting our patients and supporters and seeing how motivated they are to help us find a cure for cancer. In addition to data (see above!) their energy, wisdom, and commitment keep me going. I also teach about 40 hours per year at UVic and UBC. And I’m fortunate to get to travel in North America, Europe and Asia to present our results at conferences and other research institutions. People from around the world love to learn what’s going on in Canada, because our research and health care systems are seen as unique and innovative.

Next time I’ll share with you a bit about an exciting new project that is keeping me very busy these days.