MD/PhD Students – 2017-2018

The UBC MD/PhD Program currently has an enrollment of 24 students. Our current student representative is Paulina Piesik, and our current alternative student representative is Alvin Qiu.  Alexander Wright is our student representative in the Southern Medical Program. Prospective applicants are welcome to contact any of the students via email to obtain more information on the program.

Class of 2019

Victor Li     Class of 2019
Education: BSc (General), University of Manitoba
Field of study: Neuroscience
Supervisor: Dr. Yu-Tian Wang
Hosting department and work location: Neuroscience, Centre for Brain Health

Victor’s research explores neuroprotective interventions for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Existing therapies for AD are limited to symptomatic treatments, and no new approaches have yet succeeded in clinical trials, highlighting a need for further research in this area. Currently, beta amyloid oligomers (ABOs) are hypothesized to be a key player in the pathogenesis of AD and have become a popular target for recent investigations. Victor hopes to use a peptide-mediated clearance approach to explore the feasibility of targeting these oligomers as a means to treat AD. By using a peptide sequence that binds specifically to ABOs, Victor aims to transport these oligomers to surrounding cells, target them for proteasomal degradation, and rescue functional and cognitive deficits seen in AD.

Thesis title: Functional characterization of a novel NMDA receptor positive allosteric modulator

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Daniel Woodsworth     Class of 2019
Education: BSc (Physics), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Cancer
Supervisor: Dr. Robert Holt
Hosting department and work location: Genome Science and Technology, Genome Sciences Centre

Daniel’s PhD research project is working on engineering T-cells. Specifically, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) have two key features that make them potential therapeutic devices. First, due to their T-cell receptors (TCRs), CTLs are able to precisely target specific cells displaying tumor or viral antigens. Second, having recognized a harmful cell, CTLs are endowed with a host of effector mechanisms that enable them to rapidly induce target cell death (apoptosis). These properties are exploited in the field of adoptive cell therapy (ACT), where CTLs specific for a tumor antigen are administered to cancer patients. Daniel’s research aims to improve and expand the range of therapies that can be delivered with engineered CTLs.

Thesis title: Characterizing the granzyme-perforin pathway and its utility as a cell-to-cell delivery system for cellular therapeutics

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Personal webpage
Alexander Wright     Class of 2019
Education: BSc (Kinesiology), Simon Fraser university; MSc (Kinesiology), University of Waterloo
Field of study: Neuroscience
Supervisor: Dr. Paul van Donkelaar
Hosting department and work location: Experimental Medicine, Sports Concussion Research Lab at UBC Okanagan

Sandy is a student in the Southern Medical Program. Sandy’s research takes a multidisciplinary approach to bettering our understanding of the cerebral pathophysiological changes that occur with exposure to sport-related head trauma. More specifically, he is investigating the roles of cerebrovascular dysfunction and dynamic alterations in brain myelination following exposure to both repetitive sub-concussive trauma as well as diagnosed concussion, and how these domains relate to the biomechanics of such head impacts.

Thesis title: A prospective, multidisciplinary approach to understanding sport-related head trauma : novel insights into the effects on myelin and cerebrovascular function

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Class of 2020

Victoria Baronas     Class of 2020
Education: BSc (Pharmacology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Neuroscience
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Harley Kurata and Dr. Filip van Petegem
Hosting department and work location: Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Victoria’s PhD research focuses on ion channels, important transmembrane proteins that underpin electrical conduction in excitable tissues in the brain and heart. In particular, she will be characterizing a novel regulatory mechanism of a voltage gated potassium channel that drastically changes its properties, altering action potential conduction.

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Amanda Dancsok     Class of 2020
Education: BSc (Biochemistry), University of Regina
Field of study: Cancer
Supervisor: Dr. Torsten Nielsen
Hosting department and work location: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre

Amanda’s doctoral work focuses on sarcomas, a broad group of soft-tissue cancers that commonly affect adolescents and young adults. While rare, sarcomas are markedly under-researched; in the absence of effective medical strategies, sarcoma patients often face radical, disabling surgeries and devastatingly-reduced life expectancies. Recent work in melanoma and other cancers has revealed the promise of immune checkpoint inhibitors, a type of cancer immunotherapy that re-targets the body’s own immune cells to destroy the cancerous cells. Though interest in checkpoint inhibitors is growing exponentially across many types of cancer, their utility has been largely unexplored in sarcomas. Amanda’s research aims to identify the sarcoma subtypes most likely to respond to cancer immunotherapy, in order to determine which patients will benefit from this life-saving treatment. Outside the lab, Amanda is an editor for the UBC Medical Journal, a hobby ballerina, and most recently, a doula with the Fir Square Inter-Professional Doula Program.

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Philip Edgcumbe     Class of 2020
Education: BASc (Engineering Physics), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Cancer Research in Biomedical Engineering
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Christopher Nguan and Dr. Robert Rohling
Hosting department and work location: Biomedical Engineering, Robotics & Control Laboratory

Philip is a PhD student in the Engineers in Scrubs biomedical engineering training program. Philip is doing research in medical imaging, surgical guidance and surgical robots. He is currently developing an augmented reality ultrasound navigation aid (ARUNA) for more intuitive display of intra-operative ultrasound images taken during minimally invasive surgery. ARUNA development includes developing computer software that tracks the location of the surgeon’s intraoperative ultrasound probe and accurately displays the ultrasound image onto the surgeon’s field of view. Philip will test his computer software and intraoperative ultrasound probe using to determine their effect on surgery and surgical outcomes. His first prototype ARUNA system is been developed for robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomies (RALPN) using the da Vinci surgical robot. When he’s not in the lab Philip enjoys participating in student government, playing sports (his intramural med soccer team is the defending champion of the Handley Cup) and travelling. He currently serves on the UBC Alma Mater Society Business and Governance Board and has previously served as the Vice-Chair of the UBC Vancouver Senate. In 2009 Philip studied for one semester at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India followed by teaching at Joybells School and Orphanage in a village 300km north of Delhi. Philip has also lived in Berlin, Germany where he completed a summer research project in computational biophysics research at the Freie Universitat in Berlin.

Philip received the 2017 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award.

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Parker Jobin     Class of 2020
Education: BSc (Biochemistry), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Christopher Overall
Hosting department and work location: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Centre for Blood Research

In April 2013, Parker completed his Bachelors degree with honors in Biochemistry at UBC. In 2012-2013, Parker focused his first research on a phenomenal class of proteins called “moonlighters”, proteins that possess non canonical and often exciting functions when found outside their localized environment in physiology. For his PhD, Parker is continuing along a similar path with Dr. Christopher Overall, both investigating these proteins novel functions and how they are activated, deactivated and fine tuned when exposed to certain enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases. In addition, the incorporation of animal models for such processes like angiogenesis, metastasis and inflammation will be employed to investigate the physiological relevance of these proteins, their functions, and their regulation by enzymes. Beyond academics, Parker is also active in community and in varsity sports. As an administrator, he has chaired the Kidsport Alberta Aboriginal Sport Initiative for two years, responsible for organizing and coaching sporting camps for underprivileged youth in Alberta. As a volunteer, he has volunteered as coordinator for local Aboriginal youth programs, often through centers like the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center. He is also pleased to compete in his fifth and final year of men’s varsity volleyball for UBC while entering his first year of this combined program.

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Andrea Jones     Class of 2020
Education: BSc (Life Sciences, Neuroscience), Queen’s University
Field of study: Neuroscience, Mental Health, & Addictions
Supervisor: Dr. William Honer
Hosting department and work location: Neuroscience, BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Institute

The Hotel Study is a longitudinal observational study following marginally housed individuals in Vancouver, many of whom are afflicted with psychiatric illness and poverty. Andrea’s research aims to characterize physical, behavioural and social factors that contribute to the preservation or deterioration of mental health in this population. Recently, the group has demonstrated that frequent, harmful drug use, as captured by the Composite Harm Score, is associated with worse mental health outcomes, as well as physical and social health. Outside of the lab, Andrea is the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School Canadian Regional Leader, supporting a community of student leaders passionate about improving the quality of care and population health. She is also the Membership Committee Chair for the Clinician Investigator Trainee Association of Canada (CITAC/ACCFC). Andrea also volunteers with as a Mentor with the Mom2Mom Charity and previously with educational programs such as Brain Talks and Let’s Talk Science. Andrea also enjoys hiking, sea kayaking, painting, and yoga.

Andrea received the 2015 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award.

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Frank Lee     Class of 2020
Education: BHSc (Health Sciences), McMaster University
Field of study: Thrombosis/Haemostasis
Supervisor: Dr. Edward Pryzdial
Hosting department and work location: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Centre for Blood Research

’s research focus is studying the mechanism of how blood clots are dissolved, a process known as fibrinolysis. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the physiological initiator of fibrinolysis, has been used as a vital “clot-busting” therapeutic for almost two decades to treat prevalent conditions such as pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction and stroke. However, tPA may cause life-threatening hemorrhage, many patients’ clots are resistant to its action, and it is useful only within a few hours after the onset of symptoms. Frank’s lab has discovered that proteins not considered within the current fibrinolysis paradigm enhance tPA function in the vicinity of the clot. Frank’s research will further elucidate this auxiliary cofactor mechanism and the role of these proteins in fibrinolysis. This knowledge will be used in the development of novel clot-busting agents with enhanced safety and efficacy in comparison with existing medicines.

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Cynthia Min     Class of 2020
Education: BHSc (Health Sciences), McMaster University
Field of study: Health Services & Policy Research
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Kevin Eva and Dr. Daniel Pratt
Hosting department and work location: Cross Faculty Inquiry in Education, Centre for Health Education Scholarship

Cynthia’s research explores the mechanisms behind inaccurate self-assessment in medical education through the theoretical framework of Self-regulated Learning. Accurate self-assessment is key for physicians and other health professionals because it allows them to identify and remediate their performance deficits. Failure to recognize deficits may lead to less than optimal quality of care and have potential consequences for patient safety. Beyond her research, Cynthia applies her knowledge of medical education to student advocacy efforts through the education committee of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students and as a student member of the Medical Council of Canada.

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Adam Ramzy     Class of 2020
Education: BHSc (Biomedical Science), University of Calgary
Field of study: Nutrition, Metabolism, & Diabetes
Supervisor: Dr. Timothy Kieffer
Hosting department and work location: Cell & Developmental Biology, Life Sciences Institute
Broadly speaking, Adam’s PhD research will focus is on the development of gene and cell therapies for the management of diabetes. Despite incredible advancements in the standard of care – from the first patient injected with insulin in 1922, to the first islet cell transplants by 1990, diabetes continues to shorten lives and force patients to live with greater morbidity than their healthy counterparts. Importantly, all diabetics face an eventual loss of functional beta-cell mass and an associated relative insulin insufficiency. Understanding novel techniques that will allow a selective improvement in beta-cell growth and survival could ultimately lead to a cure for diabetes. Outside the lab, Adam competes internationally in the sport of powerlifting. He is the #1 all-time ranked athlete in the Canadian Powerlifting Union, holds multiple national records, is a four time overall Canadian National Champion, overall Commonwealth Champion of 2015, and has represented Canada at the 2012 and 2013 International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) world championships, winning a bronze in 2013.

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Allen Zhang     Class of 2020
Field of study: Cancer & Genomics
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Wyeth Wasserman and Dr. Sohrab Shah
Hosting department and work location: Bioinformatics, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics; BC Cancer Agency

Allen’s research harnesses computational techniques to evaluate changes in gene regulation in several types of cancers. Defective gene regulation can disrupt the cell cycle and coupled with protein alterations, induce uncontrolled cell division. Genome sequencing techniques have evolved rapidly over the past decade, but their predictive capacity in clinical scenarios has lagged behind. While protein-coding changes in cancer can be directly identified and characterized, reliable analysis tools for regulatory mutations are virtually nonexistent. Bridging cancer genomics with patient therapeutics will require a strong foundation in both computational and clinical work. Allen believes that a more complete understanding of defective regulation and signaling in cancers will lead to great improvements in targeted treatments for personalized medicine.

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Personal webpage
Eric Zhao     Class of 2020
Education: BSc (Physiology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Cancer
Supervisor: Dr. Steven Jones
Hosting department and work location: Bioinformatics, Genome Sciences Centre

Eric’s research uses computational techniques to uncover what makes tumors tick: that is what puts the biological clocks of cancer cells into hyperdrive and makes them divide uncontrollably. To do this, Eric investigates mutation signatures, characteristic patterns of genetic changes that hint at the origins of DNA damage. Many processes create distinct mutation signatures: aging, cigarette smoke, UV light, even other DNA changes. Biologists have found ways to decipher these signatures, and hope to put them to use: if a signature can trace a tumor’s origins, it may help doctors choose the best treatment. In recent years, advances in whole genome sequencing have enabled genome-wide cataloguing of the somatic mutations of cancer, allowing for robust large-scale pattern recognition (which computers excel at). It is this capacity which allows us to mine the cancer genome for signatures which reveal a cancer’s molecular history. On top of his academic pursuits, Eric is firmly devoted to effective leadership and advocacy in the positive reform of healthcare and educational systems. He currently serves as the President of the Medical Undergraduate Society, which represents the interests of the over 1000 UBC Medical Students. He is also an elected UBC Student Senator and serves as the Vice Chair of the UBC Vancouver Senate. Eric is an active pianist and enjoys exploration in the arts.

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Class of 2021

Paulina Piesik     Class of 2021
Education: BSc (Biology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Immunological Disorders
Supervisor: Dr. Jan Dutz
Hosting department and work location: Experimental Medicine, BC Children’s Hospital

Paulina finished a BSc in Cell Biology with an honours thesis on cell stress-coping mechanisms. As a co-op student, she worked on several research projects involving viral pathogenesis and host anti-viral defenses. Currently, her passion lies in understanding skin immunology, particularly how it relates to systemic inflammation. Allergic and autoimmune disorders are on the rise, and her broad research focus will be on the pathogenesis and potential treatments for such diseases. By harnessing the immune system of the skin, Paulina will be exploring immunomodulatory therapeutics that can help reverse this alarming trend. Specifically, the skin is an important reservoir for immune cells, including antigen-specific regulatory T cells (Tregs). Her PhD thesis will focus on (1) understanding the role of Tregs and associated immune cells in inflammatory conditions of the skin and (2) harnessing the tolerogenic potential of skin Tregs to treat systemic inflammatory disease. Outside of research, Paulina translates her passion for skin health by acting as the co-chair of the UBC Skin Cancer Awareness Network, which provides educational workshops on skin cancers and sun safety to the general public. When not immersed in research, she enjoys comedy (particularly satire and improv), following current events, and immersing herself in the cultural experiences readily found both in Vancouver and around the world.

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Cynthia Ye     Class of 2021
Education: BSc (Biology), MSc (Medical Genetics), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Genetics
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Wyeth Wasserman and Dr. Millan Patel
Hosting department and work location: Medical Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics

Cynthia’s research focuses on the genetic causes of non-syndromic strabismus. Strabismus is commonly known as crossed-eyes or squint, and this eye misalignment condition is one of the earliest recorded genetic disorders. More than 2400 years ago, Hippocrates observed ‘Children of parents having distorted eyes squint also for the most part’. The prevalence of strabismus is up to 4% in the general population, but very little is known, especially for the non-syndromic form. Cynthia is working with a large family showing an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern of non-syndromic strabismus, and the research project seeks to identify the causing variant utilizing the modern technology, including next-generation sequencing, linkage analysis, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI. The research findings will improve our understanding of strabismus genetics and may suggest genetic testing for early diagnosis and preventive therapy.

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Class of 2022

Rozlyn Boutin     Class of 2022
Education: BSc (Biology), Carleton University
Field of study: Infection & Immunity
Supervisor: Dr. Brett Finlay
Hosting department and work location: Microbiology and Immunology, Michael Smith Laboratories

Rozlyn is originally from Edmonton, Alberta. Through her interest in Darwinian medicine, Rozlyn was introduced to the “Hygiene Hypothesis” and how it relates specifically to the microbiome, the community of naturally occurring microbes that live symbiotically in and on the human body. As compared to developing countries, westernized countries have recently seen an alarming increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases such as asthma. The “Hygiene Hypothesis” essentially suggests that this trend may be in part due to the excessive use of hygienic practices in affluent countries and the over-prescription of antibiotics to young children early in life when their microbiomes and immune systems are still developing. These practices may be inadvertently having adverse effects on the delicate relationship humans have evolved over thousands of years with the microbes forming the human microbiome, thereby interfering with the normal development of the immune system and resulting in abnormal immune responses to common allergens. Using humanized mouse models, Rozlyn’s research will focus specifically on determining which microbes are associated with either protection or susceptibility to asthma and on understanding the mechanisms through which these microbes influence the development of the immune system early in life. When not in the lab or studying, Rozlyn enjoys playing team sports, running, hiking, and travelling. After having played varsity soccer while completing her BSc. Honours in Biology at Carleton University in Ottawa, she is looking forward to having the time to join various intramurals sports teams and other groups at UBC outside of class time. She also hopes to continue volunteering with Let’s Talk Science and to participate in several Global Health initiatives over the next several years.

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Jennifer Ji     Class of 2022
Education: BSc (Biotechnology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Cancer & Genetics
Supervisor: Dr. David Huntsman
Hosting department and work location: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, BC Cancer Agency

Jennifer was born and raised in Beijing, China and immigrated to Vancouver during high school. She completed her BSc Honours degree in the UBC-BCIT joint Biotechnology Program. Jennifer has always been passionate about translational oncology research and had completed research internships at McGill, Harvard, and UBC during her undergrad. She is a PhD student in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine under the supervision of Dr. David Huntsman at the BC Cancer Agency. The Huntsman lab has contributed significantly to the development of prognostic and predictive biomarkers for gynecologic and gastric cancers using immunohistochemistry and high throughput sequencing platforms. Jennifer aims to focus on translating genomic and epigenomic landscape findings into disease management for patients affected by gynecologic cancers. Her project will be identifying the markers associated with clinical outcome, risks of recurrence and metastasis in order to improve patient care. Outside of the lab, Jennifer is an avid swimmer and a freelance art illustrator/graphic designer. She volunteers at the Vancouver Crisis Centre and conducts clinical research in the field of orthopedic oncology.

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Personal webpage
Michael Skinnider     Class of 2022
Education: BA&Sc (Arts & Science), McMaster University
Field of study: Genomics & Proteomics
Supervisor: Dr. Leonard Foster
Hosting department and work location: Genome Science and Technology, Centre for High-Throughput Biology

Dr. Foster’s group has recently developed a high-throughput method of monitoring the protein-protein interactome in response to cellular stimulation. Michael’s research aims to develop bioinformatic methods to interrogate the resulting highly multidimensional datasets. His previous research at McMaster University focused on bioinformatic and cheminformatic methods for natural product drug discovery. Outside the lab, he enjoys running, biking, and music production.

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Jordan Squair     Class of 2022
Education: BSc (Kinesiology), MSc (Kinesiology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Neuroscience, Heart & Lung Health
Co-supervisors: Dr. Andrei Krassioukov and Dr. Christopher West
Hosting department and work location: Experimental Medicine, International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)

Jordan’s research is focused on understanding the cardiovascular consequences of spinal cord injury. Recently, his research group has identified that individuals with spinal cord injury are 300-400% more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease (i.e. stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiac disease) than the general population. Thus, Jordan’s doctoral work will specifically focus on developing novel strategies (i.e. neuroprotection, plasticity manipulation) to restore and/or maintain descending control of crucial autonomic structures below the level of injury. Using these strategies, Jordan aims to reduce blood pressure lability, restore cardiac function, and thereby reduce this population’s dramatic cardiovascular disease risk burden.

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David Twa     Class of 2022
Education: BSc (Microbiology & Immunology), University of British Columbia
Field of study: Cancer
Supervisor: Dr. Christian Steidl
Hosting department and work location: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Centre for Lymphoid Cancer

Dave completed his BSc with distinction in Microbiology and Immunology at UBC and defended his thesis on Coxsackieviruses. As an affiliate of the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for Lymphoid Cancer, he is completing his research under the direction of Dr. Christian Steidl. Dave is supported by a Killam Fellowship, a CIHR Vanier Scholarship, UBC Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies affiliated awards and the Canadian Hematology Society. His lab-group is interested in modeling mutations identified in B-cell malignancies using high-throughput sequencing methods (genome, capture-based exome, transcriptome). Specifically, he is interested in identifying novel structural rearrangements involving programmed death ligands 1 (CD274) and 2 (PDCD1LG2). Physiologically, when these ligands engage their cognate receptor PDCD1, they maintain peripheral tolerance. In the context of lymphomas however, the axis is hijacked to induce clonal anergy in tumor infiltrating immune cells. As part of his project he also assesses the functionality of checkpoint inhibitors, such as Nivolumab and Ipilimumab. Additionally, he models novel single nucleotide variations in GNA13, a member of the G-protein couple receptor signaling cascade. His collaborative efforts contribute to understanding how JAK/STAT signaling receptors, such as IL4R (CD124), are deregulated in B-cell malignancies. Outside of the lab, he is an advocate for evidence-based medicine and is involved in the BC Sportsbikes motorcycling community. Dave was a member of the UBC varsity rowing team, coached at the Vancouver Rowing Club and served as principal clarinetist for the UBC concert winds. He will continue these pursuits as a member of the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club and MUS chamber music ensembles.

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Class of 2023

Daniel Kwon     Class of 2023
Education: BSc (Chemistry) University of British Columbia; MSc (Organic Chemistry) Simon Fraser University
Field of study: Molecular Oncology
Supervisor: Dr. François Bénard
Hosting department and work location: Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, BC Cancer Agency

Daniel began his BSc at Simon Fraser University and transferred to the University of British Columbia in his second year to finish his BSc in Chemistry. During his undergraduate studies, he worked with Dr. David Perrin on the synthesis of a modified core of amanitin for cancer therapy, and with Dr. Marco Ciufolini on the synthesis of novel tanshinone analogues as a potential treatment of osteoporosis. Afterwards, he completed his MSc in Chemistry with Dr. Robert Britton at Simon Fraser University, completing the total syntheses of amphirionin-4 and biselide A, two tetrahydrofuranol-containing natural products with useful biological properties. During his undergraduate and graduate studies, Daniel became interested in the application of synthetic organic chemistry in the areas of biomedical sciences. As Dr. Perrin and Dr. Britton were collaborating with Dr. Francois Bénard at the BC Cancer Research Centre in developing novel radiotracers for cancer imaging, Daniel became familiar with Dr. Bénard’s work and decided to apply his synthetic skillset in the field of nuclear medicine in the Bénard lab. For his PhD, Daniel is working on the development of radiotracers toward several targets heavily expressed by cancer cells. Outside research, Daniel enjoys reading, listening to music, exercising, spending time with friends and loved ones, and following competitive sports, including hockey and baseball.

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Wissam Nassrallah     Class of 2023
Education: BSc (Biomedical Science), MSc (Neuroscience) University of Ottawa
Field of study: Neuroscience
Supervisor: Dr. Lynn Raymond
Hosting department and work location: Neuroscience, Centre for Brain Health

Wissam is a first year student in the program. Wissam completed his BSc in Biomedical Science and his MSc in Neuroscience both at the University of Ottawa. During his graduate studies, he developed an interest in the field of electrophysiology and the rules governing synaptic plasticity. Specifically, he studied the implication of the endoplasmic reticulum in the homeostatic synaptic response. His thesis, “Store-Operated Response in CA1 Pyramidal Neurons Exhibits Features of Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity”, explored novel traits of homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Wissam will be working in Dr. Lynn Raymond’s laboratory during the MD/PhD Program, exploring the alteration of these synaptic rules in a mouse model of Huntington disease (HD). Wissam hopes that discovering key traits of the pathophysiology of HD would reveal new therapeutic targets of this terrible brain disorder.  For leisure, Wissam enjoys composing musical pieces, going to the gym as well as spending quality time with family and friends.

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Alvin Qiu     Class of 2023
Education: BSc (Anatomy & Cell biology), McGill University
Field of study: Oncology
Co-supervisors: Dr. Martin Hirst and Dr. Torsten Nielsen
Hosting department and work location: Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, Jack Bell Research Centre

Alvin was born in Shanghai, China and grew up in Toronto, ON. Throughout his undergraduate degree, he was involved in a number of projects ranging from studying cancer-related signal transduction at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto, ON) to investigating molecular memory traces that underlie behavioural memory at the Montreal Neurological Institute (Montreal, QC). Alvin just completed his BSc in Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University and his Honour’s thesis explored the role of Small Optic Lobes (SOL) calpain in cleaving protein kinase Cs (PKCs) during learning and memory. For his PhD, Alvin is interested in cancer research and is beginning a project on epigenomics with Drs. Martin Hirst and Torsten Nielsen. At UBC, Alvin is also involved with the UBC Medical Journal (UBCMJ), the UBC Students in Health Annual Research Conference (SHARC) and intramural ultimate (on team Herniated Discs). Outside of school, Alvin enjoys running, swimming, music and watching reality TV.

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Mark Trinder     Class of 2023
Education: BSc (Physiology & Pharmacology), MSc (Microbiology & Immunology) Univesity of Western Ontario
Field of study: Infection & Immunity
Supervisor: Dr. Liam Brunham
Hosting department and work location: Experimental Medicine, Centre for Heart Lung Innovation

Mark found his interest in research during his undergraduate studies that consisted of a thesis project which investigated the role of the beta cell insulin receptor on murine fetal pancreatic development. He subsequently switched fields to complete his MSc in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario under the supervision of Dr. Gregor Reid. His thesis was entitled “Mitigation of pesticide toxicity by food-grade lactobacilli” and involved characterizing novel mechanisms of probiotic function. Mark’s research during the MD/PhD program will focus on the interplay between lipoproteins and sepsis. Sepsis is a systemic exaggerated host immune response to infection that has a high mortality rate, limited effective treatments, and is a considerable economic health care burden. The Brunham lab and collaborators at St. Paul’s Centre for Heart and Lung Innovation have observed that patients’ with low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) have a poor sepsis prognosis. However, mechanistic understanding of why HDL levels are low in certain septic patients is unknown. Differences in sepsis pathogenesis and outcomes has the potential to be explained by variations in human genetics. Mark is hopeful that this work will provide insights into improved management and generation of better treatment options for sepsis. For fun outside academics, Mark attempts to run ultramarathons, brew beer (can’t escape microbiology), and drum.

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Past Student Representatives
2016-2017 Parker Jobin
2015-2016 Amanda Dancosk
2014-2015 Cynthia Min
2013-2014 Farzad Jamshidi
2012-2013 Long Nguyen
2011-2012 Michael Copley
2010-2011 Clara Westwell-Roper
2009-2010 David McVea
2008-2009 Arezoo Astanehe
2007-2008 Fiona Young
2006-2007 Inna Sekirov
2005-2006 Bryan Coburn
2004-2005 Liam Brunham
2003-2004 Clara Tan
2002-2003 Claire Sheldon
2001-2002 Chenghan Lee
2000-2001 Jimmy Lee
1998-2000 Ryan Hung
1997-1998 Stephen Yip
1996-1997 Patrick Tang

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2017 – Alexis Crabtree, Farzad Jamshidi, Gareth Mercer, Julia Pon
2016 – Long Nguyen, Clara Westwell-Roper
2015 – Michael Copley
2014 – David McVea
2013 – William Guest, Kathryn Potter, Fiona Young
2012 – Arezoo Astanehe, Susan Berkhout, Brennan Eadie, Heather Heine, Michael Kozoriz
2011 – Claire Heslop, Aaron Joe, Inna Sekirov
2008 – Liam Brunham, Bryan Coburn
2007 – Michael Rauh
2006 – Jimmy Lee, Claire Sheldon, Clara Tan, Paul Yong
2005 – Ryan Hung
2004 – Cheng-han Lee
1999 – Patrick Tang, Stephen Yip
1998 – Leone Atkinson
1997 – Ruth Lanius, Zeid Mohamedali

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