Meet the speakers
Livnat Jerby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University, a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, and a Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator. Her research integrates latest advances in genetic editing, single cell and spatial genomics to identify new immunomodulating mechanisms and interventions. Recent work from her lab provides an unprecedented view of the cancerimmune interplay directly in patients and her team is now developing new cell engineering technologies to track and trigger targeted immune responses with spatial, temporal, and cellular specificity.
Prior to joining Stanford, Livnat was a postdoctoral fellow in Aviv Regev’s lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she used single cell genomics to identify regulators of T cell exclusion and resistance to immune checkpoint blockade. Livnat holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Biology and obtained her PhD in 2016 from Tel Aviv University, where she worked with Eytan Ruppin, studying genetic interactions in cancer.
Her research has been generously supported by the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF), Schmidt Family Foundation, Rothschild Foundation, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA), Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institute of Health (NIH), and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Initiative.
Usha Menon is Professor of Gynaecological Oncology at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, UK. She is a clinical trialist with a focus on early detection of ovarian cancer. Her research includes the largest general population (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and high-risk (UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study) ovarian cancer screening trials to date that are the evidence base of current guidelines. large cohort studies exploring genetic and epidemiological risk factors (UK Ovarian Cancer Population Study), symptoms and intervals to diagnosis of cancer (International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Module 4) and surgical morbidity (UK Gynaecological Oncology Surgical Outcomes and Complications Study). The trial biobanks with over half a million samples including unique longitudinal sets preceding cancer diagnosis and long-term follow-up, support numerous academic and industry research collaborations exploring novel early detection biomarkers and natural history of cancer.
Dr. Kathleen Moore is currently a Professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Oklahoma. She is the Associate Director for Clinical Research and the Director of the Phase I Drug Development Unit at the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma. She also serves as the medical director for infusion services and is a recent director of the gynecologic oncology fellowship.
She received her MD from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2000 with high honors. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Magee Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA in 2004 and went on to complete her fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Oklahoma in 2007. She has been on faculty at the University of Oklahoma since 2007.
Nationally she serves as the NRG Chair for Ovarian Cancer, Associate Director for GOG-Partners and serves on the GOG Foundation Board of Directors. Her interests include drug development and clinical trialist mentorship in gynecologic cancers. She has served as PI for phase I, II and III trials including several with registration intent. These include the randomized phase 3 study of olaparib maintenance following response to front line platinum based chemotherapy in patients with BRCAmut ovarian cancer (SOLO-1), the randomized phase 3 trial of mirvetuximab for treatment of platinum resistant, FRα high ovarian cancer (MIRASOL) and the randomized phase 3 trial of atezolizumab incorporated into front line, bevaciziumab containing platinum based therapy for ovarian cancer (IMagyn050).
She has authored over 400 manuscripts, speaks nationally and internationally about gynecologic cancers and has authored many book chapters and educational content. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband Jeff, 7 dogs, 1 cat and many fish.
Tom Christensen is a clinical exercise physiologist (CSEP-CEP) and research coordinator in the PAC (Physical Activity and Cancer) Lab in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Tom specializes in helping people improve, maintain, and enjoy their health and fitness through exercise. He oversees and facilitates exercise programs for people across the cancer continuum and their unpaid caregivers. Tom is driven to increase the accessibility of exercise programs for people affected by cancer so that everyone can experience the physical, mental, and psychosocial benefits of exercise that he witnesses every day. He envisions a future where exercise support and programming are standard parts of cancer care.
Dr. Lesa Dawson is a Gynecologic Oncologist with more than 20 years of experience caring for women diagnosed or at risk of gynecologic cancer. She runs the VGH Gynecologic Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Clinic, which serves women across British Columbia. Her patients include both women who have gynecologic cancer and those who have hereditary predisposition such as BRCA,RAD51C/D and Lynch Syndrome. She has training in obstetrics, gynecology, oncology, cancergenetics, clinical epidemiology and menopause. Her current research includes is focused on cancer survivorship, equity in women’s health and population-based testing for hereditary cancer predisposition.. She is dedicated to the delivery of personalized care for high-risk women and management of cancer risk and premature menopause. She has funding from SSHRC, MSRF and CIHR.
Dena Edwards Wadden was born and raised in Sydney, NS. She graduated from Cape Breton University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2011 and began her work in Emergency Nursing. It was while working here that Dena began recognizing the impact health inequities have on affecting health outcomes. She developed an interest in minimizing barriers her patients faced to optimize their overall care and health outcomes.
Dena obtained her Master’s of Nursing – Nurse Practitioner from Dalhousie University in 2016 and has spent the past eight years working as a Nursing Practitioner in Primary Care. She also works as an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Cape Breton University where she can be found excitedly passing on her passion for equitable healthcare to future nurses.
In October 2021, Dena’s hat was switched from provider to patient as she was diagnosed with a rare type of ovarian cancer at 33 years of age, four days after her daughter’s second birthday. With no gynecological oncologist in her hometown, much of her care was provided in Halifax (500 km away). After realizing the many barriers that coexist with a cancer diagnosis as well as a lack of awareness surrounding gynecological cancers, she founded an event called Teal to Heal that raises money and awareness surrounding gynecological cancers. Since its creation in 2022, Teal to Heal has raised close to $500,000 and a lot of awareness regarding gynecological cancers.
Despite a challenging few years, Dena remains committed to her passions of health promotion, accessible care and health equity. Her work with ovarian cancer awareness earned her a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service and has been acknowledged in the House of Commons and Nova Scotia legislature for her work surrounding ovarian cancer awareness. Dena lives in Sydney River with her husband, Mike, four-year-old daughter Myka and dog, Blue.
Laura Hopkins is a Gynecologic Oncologist with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. She is a Professor in the Division of Oncology and Provincial Lead for Gynecologic Oncology. Laura moved to Saskatoon in 2019 and created a new clinical and academic program for patients with gynecologic cancer. Saskatchewan has the fastest access to gynecologic cancer surgery in Canada, a new robotic surgery program and for the first time, a clinical trials program for patients with gynecologic cancer. Laura holds nearly 5 million dollars in active research grants spanning surgical quality and safety, precision medicine and new technologies in oncofertility. The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency’s first investigator-initiated trial has been activated in September, 2023 which will explore patient’s preferences for precision medicine in ovarian cancer. This is also the first pragmatic trial in ovarian cancer in Canada. This trial leverages the cooperation of patients, oncologists, pathologists and basic scientists in order to improve quality of life, discover new treatment options and hopefully, will set a new standard of care for genetic tumor testing for all patients with ovarian cancer.
Melanie Keats, PhD is a Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance, Division of Kinesiology at Dalhousie University. She is Co-Chair of the Physical Activity and Cancer Care Standards Steering Committee (Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program), a Senior Scientist with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, and Affiliated Scientist with Nova Scotia Health (Medical Oncology). The focus of her research is physical activity and cancer survivorship. Her research program explores how physical activity and exercise help patients/survivors cope and recover from treatment, reduce co-morbid disease, extend survivorship, and improve outcomes for those confronted with a non-curative diagnosis. She and her research team are also invested in better understanding the behavioral determinants of physical activity and exploring the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote physical activity across the cancer continuum.
Assistant professor since September 2021, Marilyne Labrie leads a research program that aims at developing personalized therapeutic approaches in ovarian cancers. Her research vision is to employ a longitudinal approach that integrates multi-omics data, with an emphasis on proteomics technologies, to investigate the molecular mechanisms driving ovarian cancer progression and resistance to therapy. Her team has been involved in research projects revolving around two main themes: (1) identifying therapeutic vulnerabilities in ovarian cancer brain metastases and (2) studying mechanisms of adaptive resistances to anticancer therapies. Together, these data-driven research programs will uncover novel personalized cancer treatment strategies for ovarian cancer patients and could be extended to more diseases.
Dr. Helen MacKay is a Medical Oncologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is Head of the Division of Medical Oncology and Malignant Hematology at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Senior Scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute. Her research involves collaborating with translational and basic scientists in the development and validation of novel therapeutic strategies. She is the former President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada (GOC). She co-chairs the National Cancer Institute (NCI), US, Ovarian Cancer Task Force. Dr. Mackay was also appointed to the NCTN Core Correlative Sciences Committee of the NCI (US) in June 2022. She is the past chair of the Ovarian Group and sits on the executive of the Gyne committee of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), and represents CCTG at the Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup. She is a past chair of both the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Scientific Committees for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Dr. Mes-Masson obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University in 1984. From 1984-1986, she completed post-doctoral studies at the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California Los Angeles. After a short period as a research associate at the Biotechnology Research Institute, Dr Mes-Masson joined the Institut du cancer de Montréal and the Department of Medicine at the Université de Montréal in 1989. A full professor since 2001, Dr. Mes-Masson was the Scientific Director of the Institut du cancer de Montréal and Director of cancer research at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) from 2003-2018 and in 2017 accepted the position of Associate Director, Basic and Translational Research, at the CRCHUM. While maintaining an active basic research program that focuses on the molecular events that contribute to cancer initiation and progression, her laboratory has pioneered the development of novel cell- and tissue-based models for ovarian cancer. More recently Dr. Mes-Masson pursues research largely focused on delivering personalized medicine and her research focuses on the prediction of therapeutic responses and the development of new therapeutic agents for ovarian cancer.
Mark Nachtigal is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Medical Genetics, and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and a Senior Scientist in the CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute. He received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. (Molecular Endocrinology) degrees from the University of Manitoba and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California San Francisco, Reproductive Endocrinology Centre. Throughout his graduate and post-graduate training his research projects retained a link to human reproductive cancer biology. In 1998 Dr. Nachtigal was recruited to Dalhousie University as theRossetti Scholar for Cancer Research to study human epithelial ovarian cancer. Dr. Nachtigal returned to Manitoba in 2010 to continue his research on human ovarian cancer. His first contributions in Manitoba were the establishment of the Manitoba Ovarian Biobank Program in collaboration with the Manitoba Tumor Bank, and establishing the Manitoba Ovarian Cancer Outcomes (MOCO) study group in partnership with Gynecologic Oncology and Population Oncology. Further collaborations led to the Manitoba Ovarian Cancer Research (MOCR) Program that encompasses researchers from preclinical, translational, clinical and health outcomes disciplines. His preclinical and translational research has established methods for culturing primary human ovarian cancer cells, identified novel autocrine signaling pathways that maintain cancer cell plasticity, developing new genetic models of early changes leading to high grade serous ovarian cancer, and testing novel therapeutics in ovarian cancer models.
Dr. Oza has been PI and co-investigator in >150 phase I, II and III trials for gynecological cancer and advanced colorectal malignancies. He is the past-chair of the the International Gynecologic Cancer InterGroup (GCIG), Chair of the GCIG Scientific Committee, Co-Chair of the Clinical Research Executive at UHN, and past co-hair of the National Cancer Institute Gynecologic Caner Steering Committee. Under his direction, the gynecology group is one of the largest ovarian cancer (OC) clinical trials groups consistently accruing >30% of all patients seen onto clinical trials (>200/yr) at PM. The group has participated or led seminal studies in gynecologic cancers that have led to the approval or use of targeted agents such as PARP inhibitors (olaparib, niraparib) and anti-angiogenic agents (bevacizumab) internationally. Over the last decade he has been PI/co-PI of 19 grants from agencies such as the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and the US Department of Defense. Over his career he has published >315 articles (all types) including Clinical Cancer Research (IF=10), JAMA Oncology (IF=20), New England Journal of Medicine (IF=79), Lancet Oncology (IF=36) and an invited seminar to CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians (IF=244).
Dr. Trevor Pugh is a Senior Investigator and the Director of Genomics at OICR. He leads the OICR Genomics program, which brings together the Princess Margaret Genomics Centre, OICR’s Genome Research Platform, Translational Genomics Laboratory and Genome Sequence Informatics teams under an integrated initiative to support basic, translational and clinical research.
Dr. Ramjeesingh joined the Division of Medical Oncology at Dalhousie University in May 2015 as a staff physician and promotion to Associate Professor in 2020. He completed his Ph.D in cancer research (2004), and his MD (2008) at the University of Toronto. He then subsequently completed his Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology residencies at Queen’s University before completed a clinical trials methodology fellowship at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) in Kingston, Ontario. His main clinical expertise is in the areas of hepatopancreobiliary (HPB) cancers and breast cancer. He is currently the chair of the HPB Disease site group in Nova Scotia and is the Medical Director of AACRU, the Nova Scotian oncology clinical trials group. Nationally, he is a founding member of the Canadian GI Oncology Evidence Network and is a board member of Craig’s Cause Pancreatic cancer society. His research activities are in the fields of health service delivery, and translational research in oncology.