Faculty

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Dr. Vanessa Bernstein, BA, MSc, MD, FRCPC

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
University of British Columbia,
Medical Oncologist
BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island Centre
Victoria, BC

Dr. Vanessa Bernstein is a medical oncologist at the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre who specializes in breast cancer and melanoma. She graduated magnum cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.  She completed her MD, Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology training at the University of British Columbia.  She was the 2000 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation BC/Yukon Chapter Research Fellow. She used this opportunity to complete a Master’s of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Bernstein is the medical director of the Systemic Therapy Clinical Trials Unit at the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre. She has been a local and provincial principal investigator for many phase I, II and III clinical trials. She chaired the BC Cancer Agency Breast Cancer Systemic Policy Group from 2013-2015.

She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and has taught many medical students and residents.

Dr. Stephen K. L. Chia, MD, FRCPC

Medical Oncologist,
BCCA, Vancouver Clinic
Associate Professor of Medicine,
Department of Medicine,
University of British Columbia,
Chair British Columbia Breast Tumour Group
Vancouver, BC

Stephen K. Chia, M.D., F.R.C.P. (Canada) is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.  He also is a staff oncologist with the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA), Vancouver, Canada.  In addition, Dr. Chia serves as Chair for the British Columbia Breast Tumour Group and is physician coordinator for both the breast cancer and head and neck cancer clinical trials at the BCCA – Vancouver Cancer Centre.  He currently sits on the NCIC Clinical Trials Committee Executive, NCIC CTG Breast Executive, NCIC CTG Breast Correlative Science Committee, as well as being a member of the ASCO Scientific Committee (2009-2012). He was a Breast Track chair (Triple Negative/Cytotoxic/Local) for the ASCO 2011 Annual Meeting. He is an active researcher in phase I-III trials in breast cancer, head and neck cancer and investigational new drugs. He has a real interest in neoadjuvant systemic therapy for breast cancer and drug development, as well as the field of translation research of predictive biomarkers/assays.

Dr. Chia has been widely published (over 70 peer reviewed publications) in international peer-reviewed journals including New England Journal of MedicineJournal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Cell, Annals of Oncology and Clinical Cancer Research.  Recently he has written the Commentaries in the Lancet and Lancet Oncology for the latest EBCTCG Overview (2011), NOAH study (2010) and the GEPARQUINTTO study (2012) respectively. An active researcher, he is currently carrying out clinical and translational studies in breast cancer with peer reviewed grant funded research from the National Cancer Institute of Canada, National Institute of Health (USA), Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – British Columbia/Yukon Chapter.

He received his bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology from the University of British Columbia, where he also earned his medical degree in 1993.  He obtained his Internal Medicine Fellowship and Medical Oncology Fellowship also from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Chia then completed post-fellowship training from 1999-2000 with the Dept. of Advanced Therapeutics – British Cancer Research Centre and at the Institute of Molecular Medicine with the University of Oxford.

Dr. Debjani Grenier MD, FRCPC

Medical Oncologist, CancerCare Manitoba
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB

Dr. Grenier is a medical oncologist and a clinical investigator at CancerCare Manitoba and she holds academic appointments in the Department of Medicine, Section of Medical Oncology and Hematology at the University of Manitoba. Her main areas of interest are breast and skin cancers and she was the past Chair of the CancerCare Manitoba Breast Cancer Disease Site Group.

Dr. Grenier was the Program Director for the Medical Oncology Training Program at the University of Manitoba up until July 2016 and the previous Chair of the Medical Oncology Examination Board of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She is a member of the Medical Oncology Specialty Committee of the Royal College and has been actively involved in the development and implementation of the Competency Based Education Curriculum for Canadian Medical Oncology Training Programs.

Her research interests include identifying and characterizing cardiotoxicity of cancer therapies and risk factors for breast cancer. She is also involved in determining ways of effectively communicating with cancer patients by means of decision aids and audiotapes. She has been the site principal investigator of multiple phase III breast cancer trials and the local representative for national and international clinical trial co-operative groups, including CCTG and the NRG. She is the current Co-chair of the Locally Advanced Breast Cancer Canadian National Consensus group, and has a research interest in the area of neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer.

MD

Los Angeles, CA

ditorial boards of Clinical Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Research.

Dr. Wendy Lam, BSc. (Pharm), MD, FRCPC

Hematologist and Medical Oncologist
Burnaby Hospital Regional Cancer Center
Director, BC Community Oncology Trialists
Burnaby, BC

Dr. Wendy Lam is a hematologist and medical oncologist at the Burnaby Hospital Regional Cancer Centre.

She received her B.Sc (Pharmacy) at Dalhousie University and her MD from University of British Columbia. She then completed her Internal Medicine residency at UBC and Hematology fellowship at McMaster University.

She is the Founding Director of the British Columbia Community Oncology Trialists (BC Cot), which is a collaborative group of oncologists and hematologists involved in clinical research.

Her other interests include education of patients through meeting with patient groups. She has also been instrumental in organizing meetings for continued medical education.

She is Director of the Society of Hematology and Oncology of BC at British Columbia Medical Association

Dr. Torsten O. Nielsen, MD/PhD, FRCPC

Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Associate Member, Department of Orthopaedics
University of British Columbia
Chair, Sarcoma Disease Site Committee
Canadian Cancer Trials Group
Vancouver, BC

Torsten O. Nielsen is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. After completing the combined MD/PhD program at McGill, he undertook training at UBC, ICRF London, Stanford, the Cleveland Clinic and the Royal Orthopaedic before taking a position as a clinician-scientist pathologist, specializing in breast cancer and sarcomas. In breast cancer, he has worked extensively with the Breast Cancer Clinical Outcomes Group of the BC Cancer Agency to characterize the clinical features of the major intrinsic subtypes — Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2E and Basal, publishing multiple well-cited studies applying biomarkers onto large tissue microarray series. In doing so, he has worked to improve and standardize immunohistochemical tests for estrogen receptor, basal biomarkers, immune biomarkers and Ki67, leading a dedicated international consortium. With funding from the NIH Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures, Dr. Nielsen worked with Drs. Chuck Perou, Matthew Ellis and Phil Bernard to develop breast cancer intrinsic subtyping research into the PAM50 test, now available on the NanoString platform as the Prosigna clinical assay for breast cancer subtype and risk. His subsequent work has applied genomic techologies to Canadian and European clinical trial series to assess the value of expression patterns and mutations. His other contributions include the world’s first large scale microarray studies of sarcomas, development of the DOG-1, TLE and beta-catenin biomarkers, identification of the biology driving tenosynovial giant cell tumors, synovial sarcoma and epithelioid sarcoma, and involvement in clinical trials of targeted therapies for these tumor types. Dr. Nielsen serves as scientific chair for the Breast Correlative Science and the Sarcoma Disease Site committees for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and is the Associate Director of the MD/PhD program for the University of British Columbia.

Heather L. McArthur, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Breast Oncology
Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA

Heather McArthur, MD, MPH is Medical Director of Breast Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC). Dr. McArthur is a medical oncologist with a clinical practice dedicated to the care of patients with breast cancer. Her research activities are focused on innovations in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, with a particular interest in novel immune therapy strategies. For example, she is currently evaluating the impact of tumor destruction with freezing (cryoablation) or radiation in combination with immune stimulation for the treatment of women with early stage breast cancer. It is hoped that by augmenting one’s immune response to the unique biologic features of one’s tumor, that an affected individual may develop long-term immunity against their tumor, and thus, be cured.

Dr. McArthur completed formal medical oncology training in Canada where she was awarded a highly competitive grant that funded an advanced fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York. Thereafter, she joined MSKCC as faculty where she developed the institutional breast cancer immunotherapy program before joining CSMC in 2016. She has a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on clinical trial design from Harvard University and has mentored many medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty in the conduct and reporting of several studies – two of which directly informed national (NCCN) treatment guidelines.

Dr. McArthur has held several leadership positions in the field including Co-Chair of a Breast International Group Immunotherapy Taskforce, member of a NCI Breast Cancer Immuno-Oncology (IO) Working Group, member of a NCI Breast Cancer IO Task Force, and member of an Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology IO Committee. She has served ASCO on the Annual Meeting IO Scientific Committee, the YIA/CDA Grant Selection Committee, the Breast Cancer Symposium Program Committee, the Annual Meeting Grant Writing Workshop, a Guideline Expert Panel, and Educational Book Expert Panels. She has participated in the ASCO Leadership Development Program; reviewed manuscripts for various high impact journals; authored numerous articles; and served on many study steering committees. She has designed, conducted, and reported on many studies in breast cancer and is currently the co-PI for a large, randomized, international phase 3 study exploring adjuvant chemotherapy with or without immune therapy for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (IMpassion030).

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Professor

Dr. Christine Simmons, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Medical Oncologist,
British Columbia Cancer Agency,
Vancouver, BC

Dr. Christine Simmons is a Medical Oncologist at the BCCA Vancouver.  She completed her residency training in Toronto, and completed a fellowship in Locally Advanced Breast Cancer at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.  She also completed a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology at University of Toronto.  She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Medicine.  She is past Chair of the Locally Advanced Breast Cancer Canadian National Consensus group, and has a strong research interest in the area of neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer.  In July 2014 she took on the role of Clinical Skills Course Director in the undergraduate medical program at UBC.

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Dr. Sunil Verma MD, MSEd, FRCPC

Medical Director, Tom Baker Cancer Centre
Professor and Head, Department of Oncology
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Department Head, Clinical Department of Oncology, Calgary Zone
CancerControl Alberta, Alberta Health Services
Medical Lead, Calgary Cancer Project
Calgary, AB

Dr. Sunil Verma is a Professor and Head of the Department of Oncology at the University of Calgary. He is also the Medical Director of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. He completed his medical degree and postgraduate training in internal medicine and medical oncology at the University of Alberta in Canada. Dr. Verma also completed a fellowship in breast cancer at the University of Toronto and a Masters degree in Medical Education at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Verma is internationally recognized for his research and education leadership in breast cancer. His research interests include developing novel therapies for breast cancer, reducing toxicities associated with systemic treatment and medical education. He is the principal investigator for many trials in breast cancer including a number of practice changing Phase III trials in breast cancer. His work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer. He has led and created numerous innovative educational projects in oncology and has won several teaching and mentoring awards.

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