Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Future of Cancer Care

The power to kill cancer lies within us. Let's tell our bodies how.

Join us to hear from a panel of national experts about one of the most promising new areas of cancer research happening right here in Victoria: immunotherapy. 

Featuring Dr. Brad Nelson, Dr. Kevin Hay, Dr. John Bell, Dr. Natasha Kekre, Patty Pitts and moderated by Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
4:30 - 6:00 pm
The Crystal Ballroom, The Fairmont Empress
721 Government Street

Reception and refreshments to follow.

RSVP to Cindy at cindy.greenway@bccancer.bc.ca


Dr. John Bell

Dr. John Bell

Scientific Director, BioCanRx
Senior Scientist, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ottawa

Dr. John Bell is a world-renowned thought leader in oncolytic virus research and development. In addition to his many academic contributions to the field, Dr. Bell established a GMP manufacturing program that has produced clinical grade oncolytic viruses for worldwide use in phase I and II clinical trials. Dr. Bell co-founded and was the Chief Scientific Officer of Jennerex Biotherapeutics, which was acquired by SillaJen. Dr. Bell also co-founded Turnstone LP, an enterprise linking four Canadian research institutes to drive the clinical and commercial development of a proprietary next-generation oncolytic vaccine platform. Dr. Bell is a Senior Scientist with The Ottawa Hospital and Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. He heads the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a Terry Fox funded group that is developing virus based cancer therapeutics and is the Director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He is the Scientific Director of BioCanRx, Canada’s Immunotherapy Network, and a Network Of Centres of Excellence. Dr. Bell is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Brad Nelson

Dr. Brad Nelson
Dr. Brad Nelson

Distinguished Scientist and Director, Deeley Research Centre, Co-Director, Immunotherapy Program, BC Cancer

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Phil Greenberg and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, he became the founding Director of BC Cancer's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Nelson’s lab uses genomic and molecular approaches to study the immune response to cancer, with an emphasis on ovarian cancer. As Co-Director of BC Cancer’s Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on adoptive T cell therapy for gynecological cancers, leukemia, lymphoma and other malignancies.

You can read Dr. Nelson's blog posts here.​

Dr. Kevin Hay

Dr. Kevin Hay

Clinician-Scientist with the Terry Fox Laboratory and the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC.

Kevin received his Master of Science in Immunology at the University of Manitoba (2008), followed by an MD (2011). After completing his residency in Internal Medicine (2014) and a clinical fellowship in Haematology (2016) at the University of British Columbia, he was awarded a scholarship through the Clinician Investigator Program of UBC to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular immunotherapy which he completed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington under the mentorship of Dr. Cameron Turtle. Dr. Hay’s translational research focuses on development and clinical application of novel cellular immunotherapies, particularly chimeric antigen receptor-modified (CAR-)T cells.

Joining BC Cancer officially in January 2019, he has already begun setting up his laboratory space, orienting into his new clinical roles, and working to establish a translational CAR-T cell therapy program in collaboration with Drs. Holt and Nelson. Dr. Hay will also serve as the Medical Director of the Clinical Cellular Therapy Laboratory, which processes patients’ cells for transplant to treat a variety of cancers. As an Assistant Professor at UBC, he will also utilize his expertise in immunotherapy, clinical haematology, and haematopoietic cell transplantation to mentor and supervise students and fellows in medicine and research.

More information on Dr. Hays’ research and clinical programs is available on the Terry Fox Laboratory website www.terryfoxlab.ca.

Dr. Natasha Kekre

Natasha Kekre
Dr. Natasha Kekre

Associate Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Hematologist, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ottawa Hospital
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

Dr. Natasha Kekre has been appointed to the Department of Medicine in the Division of Hematology, within the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at The Ottawa Hospital, effective October 2015. She is also an associate scientist within the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. She completed her Bachelor's in Science at the University of Windsor then obtained her medical degree from the University of Ottawa. She then trained at the University of Ottawa in Internal Medicine and Hematology. She went on to do a fellowship in stem cell transplantation at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA with a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. Her research is focused on developing early phase clinical trials and moving home grown therapeutic strategies into patients. She collaborates with a number of local investigators and scientists in Ottawa, studying hematologic malignancies and blood and marrow transplant recipients more specifically. Her laboratory research focuses on oncolytic virus infected cell vaccine therapy in leukemia. She is also collaborating with scientists and physicians across Canada to build a Canadian CAR-T cell platform (chimeric antigen receptor T cells are immune cells engineered to kill cancer cells), bringing this exciting new therapy to Canadian patients. Her other clinical research interests include improving transplant related outcomes and projects with an epidemiologic focus, including but not limited to decision modeling and meta-analyses.


Patty Pitts

Patty Pitts
Patty Pitts

Patty Pitts spent 18 years as a print and broadcast journalist in Victoria and Vancouver before becoming manager of media relations at the University of Victoria. During her 21 years there she specialized in crisis and issues communications as well as handling media relations for significant research announcements. When two very close friends died within eight months of each other of ovarian cancer, Patty decided to donate $250,000, a portion of an inheritance from her aunt who knew both women, to establish in 2018 the Carol Lalonde/Marlene Palmer Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to help improve the outcomes for women battling this terrible disease. She remains very involved with the BC Cancer Foundation and its efforts to fundraise and build the fund to better support the researchers in Victoria and Vancouver who are working so hard to determine better treatments for and earlier detection of this frequently lethal disease.

Moderator: Catherine Holt

Catherine Holt

Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce since June, 2016, and the Chair of BC Transit since December, 2017.

The Chamber’s mission is to work together and build good business and great community on behalf of its 1,400 members through advocacy on public policy issues, networking and educational events and a wide range of benefits. The Chamber has been an influential organization in Greater Victoria since 1863.  

Prior to her role with The Chamber, Catherine was President and Principal Consultant, Sage Group Management Consultants for 17 years. She worked at the executive level with private sector, public sector and not-for-profit clients on a wide variety of executive level strategic projects. Catherine taught Advanced Strategy for the MBA program at Royal Roads. She was an Assistant Deputy Minister in the BC Government, Cabinet Communications Advisor for the Yukon Government and a Producer for CBC National Radio and TV Current Affairs.

Sponsored by:


BC Cancer Foundation      BioCanRX       Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce