Scientific Programming Committee (SPC)

The Summit4CI SPC brings together scientists and clinician representatives from across Canada's cancer biotherapeutics ecosystem. The Committee is chaired by Dr. John Bell and co-chaired by Dr. Megan Mahoney, Director of Scientific Affairs and Training Programs at BioCanRx.

Members of the SPC work together to curate plenary topics and associated presentations, laying the groundwork for and building out the scientific program for the Summit4CI. They are also responsible for identifying and engaging speakers, and expanding on the promotion of the conference through their networks. SPC members actively participate throughout the conference – leading panels and chairing sessions.

Introducing the Summit4CI 2025 SPC

John Bell

John Bell - Committee Chair

Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Centre for Innovative Cancer Research

Scientific Director, BioCanRx

John Bell is a world-renowned thought leader in cancer-fighting (oncolytic) virus research and development. He is a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Ottawa. For more than twenty years, John and his team have been developing oncolytic viruses. He is a Co-founder of Turnstone Biologics, a San Diego company developing novel biotherapeutics to treat and cure patients with solid tumors. John is the Scientific Director of BioCanRx - Canada’s Immunotherapy Network - a not-for-profit organization working to accelerate the development of innovative immunotherapeutics, designed to save lives and enable a better quality of life for Canadian cancer patients. John was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2013 and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2022. He serves on the Boards of Directors the Terry Fox Research Institute and the Biologics Manufacturing Centre. John holds Bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from McMaster University.

Megan Mahoney

Megan Mahoney - Committee Co-Chair

Director, Scientific Affairs and Training Programs, BioCanRx

Dr. Megan Mahoney is the Director of Scientific Affairs and Training Programs at BioCanRx, a federally funded not-for-profit organization that is building capacity for cancer immunotherapy in Canada. Networks of Centre of Excellence focusing on cancer immunotherapy. With extensive experience in the health sector, she excels at developing and managing complex multi-functional programs. Megan oversees the organization's $108M translational research project portfolio, that is advancing promising cancer immunotherapy treatments to patients. She provides strategic advice, designs funding calls, and collaborates with international research management committees. Megan also directs BioCanRx’s translational training program, bridging the gap between academia and clinical translation in immunotherapies therapies. In this role, Megan received Co-Op Employer of the Year 2022 award from Carleton University for her supportive oversight of an undergraduate co-op student. Before working at BioCanRx, she was the Operations Manager for the Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre Virus Facility at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, which specializes in virus and vaccine development and manufacturing services for clinical research. Megan is passionate about mentorship and founded a national program for STEM-based grads and postdocs in 2019 via the Science to Business Network. In this capacity, she won the 2023 S2BN Leadership Award. Megan also serves as a senior volunteer advisor for Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC). Megan holds a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience from Queen's University.

Committee Members:

Anna Blakney

Anna Blakney

Assistant Professor

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering at UBC

Dr. Anna Blakney is an Assistant Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering at UBC. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemical & Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Washington. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Imperial College London on the development of molecular and biomaterial engineering strategies for delivery of self-amplifying RNA. Her lab uses bioengineering, molecular biology and immunology approaches to develop the next generation of RNA vaccines and therapies. Her research has been published in a variety of top tier journals including ACS Nano, Nature Communications, Molecular Therapy, Biomaterials, Journal of Controlled Release, and Advanced Materials. She is also a passionate science communicator and runs a TikTok channel dedicated to educating the public about RNA biotechnology, which now has >250,000 followers and >18M views.

Jeanette Boudreau

Jeanette Boudreau

Associate Professor at Dalhousie University

Scientific Director of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute

Dr. Jeanette Boudreau is an associate professor at Dalhousie University in the Departments of Pathology, and Microbiology and Immunology and the Scientific Director of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, an Atlantic Canada-wide consortium of cancer researchers. Dr. Boudreau obtained her PhD from McMaster University, and conducted post-doctoral research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her training and research programs are interdisciplinary, weaving fundamental cellular and molecular biology and genetics, with model systems and clinical samples analysis. Dr. Boudreau works closely with clinical collaborators to conduct research that reflects the diversity of cancer conditions, including (and especially) the diversity of their immune genes. In particular, the Boudreau laboratory is keen to understand how natural killer (NK) immune cells influence disease processes, response to therapies, and can be leveraged for precise anticancer therapies.

Mathieu Crupi

Mathieu Crupi

Personalized Biotherapeutics Team Lead | Chef d’équipe de biothérapies personnalisées

Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre, Virus Manufacturing Facility (BMC-VMF)

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | L’Institut de Recherche de L'Hôpital d'Ottawa

Mathieu obtained his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Lois Mulligan in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen’s University. He studied the underlying molecular mechanisms of inherited thyroid cancers, neuroblastoma, lung and pancreatic cancers. During his PhD, Mathieu founded Let's Talk Cancer, a day symposium for highschool students to learn about cancer prevention and local research from young scientists.

His postdoctoral research, under the guidance of Drs. John Bell and Carolina Ilkow in the Cancer Research program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), focused on oncolytic virus- driven immunotherapeutic strategies to enhance survival of colorectal and ovarian cancer patients. These included: engineered T-Cell Engagers, microRNA-mediated synthetic lethal approaches, and inducible cytokines. During the pandemic, he and his colleagues also generated vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and cancer.

He is now Lead of Personalized Biotherapeutics at the OHRI Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre. His team is establishing R&D and GMP manufacturing processes for Tumour-Infiltrating Lymphocyte (TIL) and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) cell therapies for upcoming clinical trials at OHRI through the C3 and CLIC networks, respectively. In addition, he is the project manager of correlative studies for PERIOP-06, a Phase II multi-site clinical trial to treat over 100 colorectal cancer patients across the province of Ontario.

He hopes to inspire BioCanRx HQP to join him in eliminating cancer and fear of the disease through research, mentorship, outreach and fundraising initiatives.

Natasha Kekre

Natasha Kekre

Scientist, Cancer Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Hematologist, Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, The Ottawa Hospital

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa

Dr. Natasha Kekre has been appointed to the Department of Medicine in the Division of Hematology, within the Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program at The Ottawa Hospital, effective October 2015. She is also an associate scientist within the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. She completed her Bachelor’s in Science at the University of Windsor then obtained her medical degree from the University of Ottawa. She then trained at the University of Ottawa in Internal Medicine and Hematology. She went on to do a fellowship in stem cell transplantation at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA with a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University.

Her research is focused on developing early phase clinical trials and moving home grown therapeutic strategies into patients. She collaborates with a number of local investigators and scientists in Ottawa, studying hematologic malignancies and blood and marrow transplant recipients more specifically. She collaborates with scientists and physicians across Canada to build a Canadian CAR-T cell platform (chimeric antigen receptor T cells are immune cells engineered to kill cancer cells), bringing this exciting new therapy to Canadian patients. Her other clinical research interests include improving transplant related outcomes and projects with an epidemiologic focus, including but not limited to decision modeling and meta-analyses.

She also participates with a number of cooperative groups in North America including the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group, the American Society of Hematology and the American Society for Transplant and Cellular Therapy.

Douglas J. Mahoney

Douglas J. Mahoney

Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Disease

Associate Director, Basic and Translational Research, Charbonneau Cancer Institute

Scientific Director, Alberta Cell Therapy and Immune Oncology (ACTION) Initiative

Director, Riddell Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy

Dr. Mahoney is a translational scientist at Cumming School of Medicine in the University of Calgary with 25 years of experience studying human health and disease. Over the past 15 years, his research has made important contributions to the development of numerous cancer immunotherapies that have been translated into human clinical trials. Currently his lab is focused on engineering "designer cells and viruses" to treat various forms of cancer in children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Mahoney is the founder and Scientific Director of a research initiative called ACTION (Alberta Cellular Therapy and Immune Oncology) and the founder and Director of the Riddell Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy, which seeks to develop innovative next generation cell and immune therapies for cancer and deliver them to patients in Alberta and beyond. Outside the lab, Doug spends his time with his wife and three children, mostly enjoying the Alberta/BC wilderness.

Jason Moffat

Jason Moffat

Senior Scientist and Program Head, Genetics and Genome Biology Program, The Hospital for Sick Children

Full Professor, Donnelly Centre and Department of Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine , University of Toronto

Jason Moffat is a Senior Scientist and Program Head for the Genetics and Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children. He is also a Full Professor in the Donnelly Centre and Department of Molecular Genetics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and cross-appointed to the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering in the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering. The Moffat lab focuses on developing and applying genome-scale genetic perturbation technologies and analytical approaches to explore genotype-phenotype relationships in human and mouse cells to find therapeutic targets for cancer. His lab generated the first gold standard sets of essential and non-essential human genes for functional genomics efforts. The Moffat lab has also catalogued essential gene sets for human embryonic stem cells as well as cancer intrinsic evasion to cytotoxic T lymphocytes. More recently, his lab has also been examining genetic and chemical-genetic interactions important for cell fitness and establishing properties of genetic interactions in a human cell model.

Sheila Singh

Sheila Singh

Professor of Surgery and Biochemistry, Pediatric Neurosurgeon at McMaster Children’s Hospital

Division Head of Neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences, Inaugural director of the new Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research (CDCR) at McMaster University

Dr. Sheila Singh is a professor of surgery and biochemistry, pediatric neurosurgeon at McMaster Children’s Hospital, Division Head of Neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences, and inaugural director of the new Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research (CDCR) at McMaster University. She holds a Tier 1/ Senior Canada Research Chair in Human Brain Cancer Stem Cell Biology, and is the founding Director of the McMaster Surgeon Scientist Program. Her PhD thesis described the novel identification of a population of cancer stem cells that exclusively drive the formation of brain tumours. Since 2007, Dr. Singh's lab applies a developmental neurobiology framework to the study of brain tumorigenesis. Building upon previous cell culture techniques developed for the isolation of normal neural stem cells (NSC) and applying them to brain tumours, and through development of a xenograft model to efficiently study brain tumour initiating cell (BTIC) activity, Dr. Singh's lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern BTIC self- renewal. Dr. Singh is currently studying the regulation of BTIC signaling pathways in glioblastoma, brain metastases and childhood medulloblastoma, with an ultimate goal of selectively targeting the BTIC with appropriately tailored drug and molecular therapies. Her laboratory is funded by CCSRI, CIHR, TFRI, CRS, the Stem Cell Network, McMaster Surgical Associates, Brain Canada and the Boris Family Fund. She is scientific founder and prior CEO of a start-up company, Empirica Therapeutics, a brain cancer therapeutics company that sought new, data-driven and polytherapeutic treatment options for patients with Glioblastoma and brain metastases. Empirica was acquired by Century Therapeutics Inc (Philadelphia) in June 2020, resulting in the creation of a Canadian subsidiary, Century Canada, based in the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton.

Julian Smazynski

Julian Smazynski

Staff Scientist, BC Cancer, Deeley Research Centre

Dr. Julian Smazynski is an early career researcher in the immunotherapy field, overseeing diverse projects focused on novel cell engineering strategies to enhance adoptive cell therapies for cancer treatment. He began his academic studies with a diploma in Arts and Science from Camosun College in 2013, followed by a BSc (Honours) in Biochemistry/Microbiology from the University of Victoria in 2015. His PhD at the Deeley Research Centre, under Dr. Brad Nelson, concentrated on ovarian cancer immunotherapy, specifically on the TIGIT/CD155 pathway in high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC).

Dr. Smazynski’s current projects are focused on developing novel T cell engineering strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapy against solid tumors, particularly ovarian cancer. He is leading the pre-clinical development of a nanobody based Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell product targeting the antigen mesothelin for the treatment of ovarian, pancreatic, and other challenging cancers. Collaborating with researchers in Vancouver, and Ottawa, he aims to translate this research into a phase I clinical trial within the coming years.

For the past several years, Dr. Smazynski has also been developing and leading the BC Cancer R&D program for an innovative immunotherapy that combines CAR-T cells with oncolytic viruses. This work has resulted in multiple patent applications and the co-founding of a BC-based biotech, Overture Therapeutics Inc., which aims to translate this technology into the clinic. Additionally, Julian and his team are developing several other exciting genetic engineering strategies to "supercharge" the efficacy of CAR-T cells by repurposing clinical antibodies and cytokines. These projects are generating new intellectual property and the potential for additional clinical trials and commercialization opportunities in the future. Thus, Dr. Smazynski is committed to conducting research that not only pushes scientific boundaries but also offers significant near-term clinical impact for cancer patients in Canada.

John Stagg

John Stagg

Full Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of University of Montreal

Lab Head at the CHUM Hospital Research Center

Dr. John Stagg is Full Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of University of Montreal and Lab Head at the CHUM Hospital Research Center since 2010. An established cancer immunologist, Dr. Stagg cumulates over 100 research publications. Dr Stagg is known for having identified the adenosine-producing enzyme CD73 as a novel target in immuno-oncology and for contributing to the develop therapeutic agents targeting the extracellular adenosine pathway. Dr. Stagg was co-founder of Surface Oncology and is currently Scientific Advisory Board member of Coherus Biosciences and Domain Therapeutics. Dr. Stagg is a board member of BioCanRx.

Dr. Stagg received several distinctions, including the FRQS young investigator award, the CIHR New Investigator Award, the Terry Fox Research Institute New Investigator Award and the Excellence award for outstanding contribution from a new investigator under 10 years of Faculty appointment by the CHUM hospital. Since 2010, Dr. Stagg is recipient of the Jean-Guy Sabourin Research Chair in Pharmacology from the Université de Montréal Faculty of Pharmacy.

Lee-Hwa Tai

Lee-Hwa Tai

Director of the Cancer Axis at the Centre de Recherche du CHUS

Associate Professor at the Department of Immunology and Cellular Biology of Université de Sherbrooke

Lee-Hwa Tai, PhD, is Director of the Cancer Axis at the Centre de Recherche du CHUS and an Associate Professor at the Department of Immunology and Cellular Biology of Université de Sherbrooke. She obtained her doctorate in molecular immunology from McGill University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer immunology at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She heads a translational research lab, where she and her team focus on better understanding the immunological pathways that regulate metastatic cancer and on developing new viro-immunotherapies.

Simon Turcotte

Simon Turcotte

Assistant Professor, Université de Montréal; Surgical Oncologist and Scientist, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM)

Dr. Turcotte is a young Canadian surgeon-scientist with bench-to-bedside expertise in solid cancer immunology and immunotherapy. After his general surgery training and a Masters in cancer immunology at Université de Montréal, he completed post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute and at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, focusing on metastatic gastrointestinal cancer immune recognition. During those years, he established that endogenous T cells could recognize antigens derived from somatic mutations in gastrointestinal cancers refractory to chemotherapy, and that these reactive T cells could mediate cancer regression after adoptive T cell transfer to patients.

Since 2013, he is an assistant professor at the Université de Montréal, works as an hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) surgical oncologist and full scientist at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). His laboratory focuses on identifying new types of tumour antigens and therapeutically actionable immune checkpoints in colorectal cancer liver metastases. He co-leads the launch of the CHUM adoptive T cell cancer immunotherapy program. He has set-up and leads the CHUM HPB Cancer Prospective Clinical Database and Tissue Repository, to which more than 2000 patients have contributed thus far. He holds a Clinician-Scientist Research Scholarship from the Fond de recherche-santé Québec. In 2017, he was nominated the Université de Montréal Roger Des Groseillers Research Chair in HBP surgical oncology and received an Innovator Award from the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.