Scientist – Genetics Unit, Integrative Oncology, BC Cancer Agency Research Centre

Back when I was a student, Dr. Wan Lam had a new group that was pioneering a cutting-edge technology to enable the first comprehensive assessment of the genetic alterations that drive cancer development. Soon, I was spending my nights and weekends at the lab and after finishing my undergraduate degree, I started my PhD with Wan as my supervisor.

It was during this time that I became involved in lung cancer research, mainly due to the outstanding collaborative group at the BC Cancer Agency that consists of researchers, oncologists, pathologists, surgeons and respirologists and is led by Dr. Stephen Lam. This allowed us to uncover many genes disrupted during cancer development, a process that has identified new targets for diagnosis and therapy. 

After completing my PhD, I wanted to stay involved in lung cancer research but complement my skills in genetics with knowledge in gene characterization and drug development. I found the perfect environment in the lab of Dr. Harold Varmus, a Nobel Prize winning scientist who was instrumental in our understanding of how cancer develops. Under Harold’s mentorship at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, I was able to grow into an independent scientist, developing a new research platform for identifying genes causing lung cancer and strategies to inhibit them in patients.

When looking for an independent position, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to come back to the BC Cancer Agency where my journey started, something that was only possible because of the generous donations to the BC Cancer Foundation. Now, in my home province, I get to conduct cutting edge research in a world-class environment, driven by the personal stories of those whose lives or loved ones have been affected by lung cancer.

I look forward to sharing more about my lab’s work and how the BC Cancer Foundation has made this possible in the coming weeks!

Will