About me—From Queen’s to Vancouver

November 8, 2011

Hello, my name is Aly Karsan and I am the head of the Centre for Clinical Diagnostic Genomics and the Medical Director of the Cancer Genetics Lab at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and Pathology department, respectively.

I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and attended Queen’s University for both my Bachelor of Arts in Life Sciences and for my medical degree. I then came out to Vancouver to do a summer studentship in a genetics lab at the University of British Columbia. This was the first time I’d come out to Vancouver, and I loved it – I made a decision that I would find my way back permanently someday.

After my internship, I temporarily filled in for some general practitioners in rural B.C. and the Northwest Territories. I also volunteered with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in the late 1980s. Later I spent a number of years back in Vancouver to complete my residency in hematological pathology (which I describe as the study of blood) then a research fellowship in Seattle.

I initially came back to Vancouver to work at St. Paul’s Hospital, but I eventually moved to the BC Cancer Agency because my research interests in cancer biology were better served at the Agency. The ability to collaborate with scientists and clinicians at the Agency who have been working on tumour models for a long time was very useful to my research into how tumours grow blood vessels (angiogenesis). When the current position opened up, I knew it would be a great fit, so I applied, and it felt like the right thing for me to do.