Dr. Brad Nelson
Director, Trev & Joyce Deeley Research Centre

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received a BSc from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle before moving his lab to the Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle in 1997. In July 2003, he became the founding Director of the BC Cancer Agency's Trev & Joyce Deeley Research Centre in Victoria, BC. He is an Associate Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and holds adjunct appointments in the Departments of Biology and Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Nelson’s lab studies the immune response to cancer, with an emphasis on ovarian, breast and prostate cancer.

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

Blog Posts by Dr. Brad Nelson

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 blog posts

Hello from Dr. Brad Nelson and Introducing the Immunotherapy Clinical Trials Team

Hi everyone, I’m very pleased to be returning to the BC Cancer Foundation blog for the month of October! This time around, I wanted to introduce some of my colleagues who will be leading the upcoming immunotherapy clinical trials at the BC Cancer Agency, so you can see how this world-class team of scientists and technicians are coming together to make immunotherapy clinical trials a reality for cancer patients in B.C. After 12 years of research, our DRC team is joining forces with experts at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and clinical colleagues at the BC Cancer Agency...

Dr. Brad Nelson: Looking Ahead

I hope by now I’ve helped you understand why I am so excited about the future of immunotherapy research and treatment in British Columbia. There is currently a lot of excitement about “immune modulators,” agents that ramp up the immune system. These agents are just emerging from clinical trials and I predict they will become commonplace in a few years. By “turning up the volume” on the immune system, immune modulators alone will have a strong impact on certain types of cancer. Our vision is to further focus the immune response using personalized vaccines that teach the immune system to...

Philanthropy and the Future of Immunotherapy Research

As a concept, immunotherapy fascinates a lot of people: the idea that the immune system can destroy cancer cells anywhere in the body brings a great sense of empowerment about our health. I’ve seen the way this resonates with patients, and I’m so pleased that in the last ten years we’ve established hard evidence that patients with a strong immune response live longer. For a long time, this was something we wanted to believe, and now we actually have the proof. Two FDA-approved immunotherapies are now on the world market—one for melanoma, another for prostate cancer—and that’s an incredible...

The Immune System and Personalized Cancer Vaccines

In my last post, I mentioned that patients who mount a strong immune response against their cancer have a much better chance of survival. To build on this natural effect, we are developing personalized vaccines that teach the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells anywhere in the body. We are now ready to take this concept forward into a Phase 1 clinical trial at the BC Cancer Agency. Here’s how the trial will work: 1. Our colleagues at the Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) will sequence the patient’s tumour and present researchers in my lab with a list of mutations found in...

Immunotherapy and New Cancer Knowledge

My research at the BC Cancer Agency is focused on a brand new concept in treatment: personalized cancer vaccines. We’re working hard to get clinical trials underway in this area. What are personalized cancer vaccines? The concept is fairly simple: we and others have shown that the immune system can recognize cancer cells as “foreign” and launch an attack. There is now irrefutable evidence that patients who mount a strong immune response against their cancer live longer. When you hear of cancer patients who “beat the odds” and live many years more than expected, often it’s because their immune...

A Day at the 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 “...

Explaining cancer immunology

So, I hope that I’ve built some anticipation for my explanation of cancer immunology. I’m really proud of my team at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) in Victoria and that we’re one of only two dedicated sites in Canada that explore the link between your immune system and cancer. When I speak about your immune system, I mean the white blood cells in your body. White blood cells (especially the type called T cells) circulate throughout your body looking for signs of infection from viruses or bacteria. When they see trouble, they destroy the foreign invaders. Although cancer cells can often look...

Why the Deeley Research Centre is a great place to work

As I mentioned, coming back to B.C. to work at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) in the Vancouver Island Centre was an exciting moment in my career. Coming to the DRC in Victoria was a unique opportunity, and I’m so happy that I made the move. I’m also deeply grateful to all the donors who created the DRC by supporting the BC Cancer Foundation. The BC Cancer Agency is an amazing organization and the Vancouver Island Centre is a perfect example of what it represents. Everyone that I work alongside with at the Centre is first class – this includes my fellow researchers, the clinicians, research...

How I got interested in cancer research

Although I’m now the Director of the Deeley Research Centre (DRC) at the BC Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre , I actually came to cancer research quite late in my academic career. I was completing my Ph.D. in embryology (the study of how animal and human eggs develop) at the University of California at Berkeley when I started to think about what my next challenge would be. It was at this time when my wife and I learned about her mother’s ovarian cancer diagnosis. I was in shock. Never before had I been so close to cancer. As I learned more about cancer during her journey, I was...