Govinda Sharma, BC Cancer Agency
PhD Candidate, Holt Lab, Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency

Hi readers, my name is Govinda Sharma and I am a PhD candidate in Dr. Rob Holt’s lab at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre in Vancouver. I’m very excited for this opportunity to share a little bit about myself and my thesis work in this week’s post.

Prior to starting graduate research at the BC Cancer Agency, I spent time working in various scientific fields ranging from medicinal chemistry to environmental geophysics. I’m proud of my eclectic background as it reflects my belief in interdisciplinary science and my tendency to gravitate towards big problems that need solving. For these reasons the crossroads between cancer research and immunogenomics was an irresistible area for me to become involved in. 

Excited by immunotherapy puzzle

In the three years I’ve spent as a part of Dr. Holt’s group, I’ve had the opportunity to take on an exciting piece of the cancer immunotherapy puzzle as my doctoral project – the development of rapid, large-scale approaches to screen tumour genomes and discover molecular determinants of cancerous cells that cause immune cells to attack. We know that expanding a patient’s immune cells in the lab and re-infusing them back into the body is a powerful approach that has been shown to eradicate cancer in some cases. However, not much is known about what the tumours are presenting to the immune system to cause them to be targeted.

I hope to contribute to our immunotherapy efforts here at the BC Cancer Agency (and hopefully at centres around the world) by using this technology to create highly potent, patient-tailored cellular immunotherapies for cancer treatment.

Humbled by donors

Every day it is extremely humbling to see the names of the hundreds of donors whose lives have been deeply affected by cancer listed on the wall at the Research Centre. The gifts they give us – their time, their money, sometimes literally their own flesh and blood, and above all, their trust – is what motivates me to continue pushing towards a future in which cancer has been defeated.

Thank you for your continuing support!

Govinda