Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

CDRD Immunotherapy Symposium



CDRD, Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine, is hosting a symposium “Novel strategies in cancer immunotherapy.”

Join us and top cancer researchers and clinicians from across Canada to learn about novel platforms in cancer immunotherapy research, implications for the discovery of therapeutic candidates, lessons learned, and to discuss how novel platforms may advance cancer immunotherapy R&D in Canada.

This event features a keynote address by Dr. Jason Berman, IWK Health Centre, additional concise talks, a moderated panel discussion and opportunities to network and explore potential partnerships and collaborations.

CDRD Headquarters
2405 Wesbrook Mall (UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Bldg)
Main floor atrium
Vancouver, BC

Registration is now closed.


8:20 – 8:45am: Continental breakfast

8:50 – 9:00am: Welcoming remarks and overview of CDRD’s Immunotherapy Initiative – Gordon McCauley, President & CEO, CDRD & Dr. Ismael Samudio, Head, Biologics Division & Immunotherapy Taskforce, CDRD

9:00 – 9:40am: Keynote:The power of the fish for immunotherapy research” – Dr. Jason Berman (MSC Clinician Scientist in Pediatric Oncology, IWK Health Centre)

9:40 – 10:00am: Dr. Brad Nelson (Director and Distinguished Scientist, Deeley Research Centre, BC Cancer Agency)

10:00 – 10:20am: Dr. Rebecca Auer (Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute)

10:20 – 10:50am: Coffee break and networking

10:50 – 11:10am: Dr. Carl Hansen (CEO & President, AbCellera)

11:10 – 11:30am: Dr. Rob Holt (Distinguished Scientist, BC Cancer Agency)

11:30 – 11:50am: Dr. Thomas Kislinger (Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre)

11:50am – 12:50pm: Moderated Panel Discussion, Q&A with Peter Klein (UBC) and guests: Rebecca Auer, Brad Nelson, Kelley Parato (BioCanRx), Jason Berman, Patrick Sullivan (Team Finn Foundation)

12:50 – 1:50pm: Networking lunch

Download Agenda


(click on photo to view bio)

Dr. Jason Berman

Dr. Jason Berman is Associate Chair, Research, Department of Pediatrics, and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology at Dalhousie University. He oversees the pediatric leukemia program for the Maritimes and chairs an international clinical trial for children with Down syndrome and myeloid leukemia. He is internationally recognized for pioneering research using zebrafish to study childhood cancers and rare inherited diseases. His laboratory is the Atlantic node of the Centre for Drug Research and Development and a national hub for zebrafish modeling of orphan diseases. He is co-chair of the C17 Childhood Cancer Network Developmental Therapeutics Committee and Director of the Clinician Investigator Program and Medical Research Graduate Program at Dalhousie. He is president-elect of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation and a founding member of the Canadian Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms Network.


Rebecca Ann C. Auer


Dr. Rebecca Auer is a Surgical Oncologist specializing in Colorectal Surgery and Retroperitoneal Sarcomas at The Ottawa Hospital. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Ottawa and a Scientist in the Center for Cancer Therapeutics at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Auer’s translational research program focuses on understanding the promotion of metastatic disease in the perioperative period, following surgical stress, and how to counteract these effects with novel immunotherapies, including oncolytic viruses. She runs a research laboratory that studies these therapies in pre-clinical models and is the principle investigator on three related clinical trials of perioperative cancer therapies. She holds a Tier 2 Clinical Research Chair and a Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Award to support her research.


Dr. Rob Holt

Rob Holt received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Alberta in 1998. After a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular evolution at the State University of New York Dr. Holt joined the company Celera Genomics in Rockville, Maryland where he served on Craig Venter’s team as the Scientific Operations Manager for initial sequencing of the human genome.

Since 2003 Dr. Holt has been a Senior Scientist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA), where he is Co-director of the BCCA Immunotherapy Program and Co-director of the Genome Canada Science & Technology Innovation Centre.

Dr. Holt is recognized for his leadership role in decoding some of the first model organism genomes and pathogen genomes and, more recently, for developing next-generation sequencing methods for interrogating the genetics of the adaptive immune system. He has served as a scientific advisor to the NIH Human Microbiome Project and discoveries by his research group have linked new infectious agents to cancer risk.

His current research directions are focused on cancer genomics, T cell engineering, and immune interventions in cancer. He has published over 140 scientific papers that have received >50,000 citations.


Brad Nelson, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientist and Director, Deeley Research Centre,
Co-Director, Cancer Immunotherapy Program,
BC Cancer Agency
Victoria BC, Canada

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received a B.Sc. 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. In 2003, he became the founding Director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria.

Dr. Nelson’s lab studies the immune response to cancer, with an emphasis on ovarian, breast and lymphoid cancers. As Co-Director of the BCCA’s Cancer Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on adoptive T cell therapy for ovarian cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and other malignancies.


Dr. Carl Hansen

Carl Hansen is CEO and co-founder of AbCellera, and is also an Associate Professor in the Michael Smith Labs and Center for High-Throughput Biology at UBC. Prior to joining UBC in 2005, Dr. Hansen did his undergraduate training in Engineering Physics and Mathematics at UBC (2000), completed a PhD in Applied Physics and Biotechnology at Caltech (2004), and trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Leroy Hood at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle (2005). He is a co-inventor of AbCellera’s single cell platform that was developed in his research group at UBC, is an author on more than 40 publications, has given over 100 scientific talks, and is an inventor on 46 international and US patent applications related to microfluidics, immunology, and single cell analysis research (37 issued and 10 pending). His previous work has contributed to a suite of commercial products by Fluidigm corporation, including PCR-based genomics platforms (Dynamic ArrayTM, the Access ArrayTM, and the Digital ArrayTM), and the widely adopted C1TM single cell analysis system. In addition to AbCellera (, Dr. Hansen was a founding director of Precision Nanosystems (, a Vancouver-based company developing industry leading technology for the formulation and production of RNA and DNA therapeutics. Carl lives in Vancouver with his wife and three children. Outside of work his interests include athletics, reading, and leadership.


Dr. Thomas Kislinger

Thomas Kislinger received his MSc in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Munich, Germany (1998). He completed his PhD in 2001, investigating the role of Advanced Glycation Endproducts in diabetic vascular complications at the University of Erlangen, Germany and Columbia University, New York. Between 2002 and 2006 he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto. In 2006 he joined the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as an independent investigator. Dr. Kislinger holds positions as Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and as Associate Professor and Vice Chair (biology) at the University of Toronto in the Department of Medical Biophysics. The Kislinger lab applies proteomics technologies to translational and basic cancer biology. This includes the development of novel proteomics methodologies, identification of liquid biopsy signatures and the molecular identification of novel cell surface markers.

Peter Klein

Peter W. Klein is the founder of the Global Reporting Centre, a UBC-based non-profit focused on producing and innovating journalism on under-reported issues around the world. He is former director of the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where he continues to serve as an Associate Professor, teaching investigative and global reporting, and leading research projects on global health and security. He was a longtime producer at CBS News 60 Minutes, and is a regular opinion contributor to The Globe & Mail. He is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including several Emmy, Murrow and Sigma Delta Chi awards. He has an MS in Journalism from Columbia, and lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and four children.

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