Right Turn: Paying attention to blood cancers

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. “Few people know that many of today’s fundamental treatments for various cancers, like chemotherapy, began with blood cancer research,” explains Alicia Talarico, President, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Canada in a news release to draw attention to their 2018 awareness campaign: “Beating Cancer Is In Our Blood.” According to the news release, the campaign was conceived to bring blood cancers “out of obscurity.” That’s surprising, considering research on blood cancers…

Continue reading


Right Turn: An eye full of science art on display in Toronto

Yesterday I took a trip to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Sadly, that’s where my voyage ended. I wasn’t there to escape to somewhere hot and tropical or cold and cozy; my destination was Terminal 1 at the airport. Full stop. Pearson is the location of an exciting new science art installation called Artful Science that conveniently runs over Science Literacy Week. Until December 2018, you can view 16 stem cell images, five computational biology images…

Continue reading


Right Turn: Science truth crusaders

Across Canada, there are individuals who have taken on the challenge of educating the public about science to inform the misinformed. Some outspoken individuals have challenged celebrities and have become celebrities in their own right. Others wear the title of “scicomm” champions and work hard to explain science to diverse audiences, sometimes to counteract misinformation, but other times simply to educate and instill a love for science. And then there are the coordinated efforts of…

Continue reading


Raman spectroscopy for monitoring therapeutic cell manufacturing – Part 1

In this month’s installment of the “Bioprocess and Bioanalytics” blog, we will hear from Drs. Robin Turner and James Piret on how an established spectroscopy method – Raman spectroscopy – can be utilized to tell us new information about cell therapy products. Both are Professors in the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Robin Turner has a cross appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. James Piret…

Continue reading


A firm hand for the regenerative medicine industry

An experienced cell and gene therapy development executive with extensive surgical and medical clinical experience, Dr. Sven Kili is focused on delivering positive ethical outcomes for patients and customers. Sven is currently the VP and Head of Cell & Gene Therapy Development for GSK Rare Diseases where he led the teams developing a suite of life-saving gene modified cell therapies, including Strimvelis®, the first ex-vivo gene therapy ever approved, MLD, WAS and Beta-thalassemia indications in…

Continue reading


The future of AI in the life sciences

Illustration of the neurological connections in the brain (in this case, controlling speech production).Credit: Stefan Fuertinger and Kristina Simonyan, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNIH support from: National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders Artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning. To most people, these are just buzzwords and synonymous. Whether or not we fully understand what both are, they are slowly integrating into our everyday lives. Virtual assistants such as Siri? AI is at…

Continue reading


Insider tips for becoming a PI

Dr. Hannes Röst giving a talk at the University of Toronto. (Credit: Samantha Yammine) You’ve heard the rumours – it is notoriously difficult to get a job as a tenure-track Principal Investigator (PI). The 10,000 PhDs project reported that, on average, about 23 percent of life sciences PhDs from the University of Toronto get a tenure stream position. An interactive mathematical model put forth by David van Dijk et al. a few years ago allows…

Continue reading


Right Turn: Come one, come all to Signals’ 2018 blog carnival

  Two years ago in August, Signals hosted a blog carnival and it was such a success we’ve been doing it ever since. If you are scratching your head at the term “blog carnival” and wondering if this website has been hacked, I recommend you read the section below. If you followed the fun in 2017 and/or 2016, you may want to skip ahead to the section where the topic is revealed. Read this section…

Continue reading


The Betrayal: turning cancer against itself

I honestly believe that we’re living in the most exciting time for cancer therapeutics. The past few years (dare I say decades, even?) have pushed the boundaries of cancer treatment from radiation and chemotherapy to the use of cancer-targeted antibodies, oncolytic viruses and the more recent approval of CAR-T cells (see my previous post on CAR-T cells). And now we have yet another possible approach to add to this list: reprogramming cancer cells to target…

Continue reading


Going in for the kill: NK cells enter the immunotherapy arena

Erika Siren lives in Vancouver, British Columbia where she is currently a Ph.D Candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Chemistry. Under the supervision of Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, Erika develops biomaterials that can be used to manipulate the immune system. Away from the bench, Erika has a keen interest in the challenges that face the commercialization, policy development and public perception of therapies in regenerative medicine. Connect with Erika on Linkedin here. Human NK…

Continue reading