Jun 15, 2022

Annual Research Symposium Brings MBP Together

MBP Symposium Logo

The second annual MBP Symposium was held on Monday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This two-day, student-led affair combines the James Lepock Memorial (JLM) Student Research Symposium with the annual Alumni Networking Reception. Due to pandemic restrictions being lifted, the JLM portion of the event was hosted in person. Students were excited to finally host their first in-person event in over two years. Thanks to the organization of our amazing graduate students, the Symposium was successful in bringing MBP faculty and students together to celebrate the accomplishments of our diverse department.

Alumni Networking Reception

The MBP Alumni Networking Reception, organized by the MBP Career Development Association and hosted through the Gather platform, allowed MBP students to explore various career paths through a panel discussion and a networking session featuring a number of MBP alumni.

The career panel included three MBP alumni:

The networking reception also featured three round-table networking sessions in which students were able to select from a group alumni to chat with regarding possible career paths.

MBP alumni who contributed to the round-table session:

  • Dr. Ali Madani, Director of Machine Learning, Cyclica
  • Dr. Lynn Wong, Assistant Professor, University of Zurich
  • Dr. Norman Chan, Regional Medical Advisor, Bayer
  • Dr. Alexandra Rink, Medical Physicist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • Dr. Santosh Hariharan, Principal Scientist, Pfizer
  • Dr. Diana Merino, Director of Oncology Translational Medicine Strategy, Astrazeneca
  • Susan Armel, Genetic Counselor, University of Toronto
  • Dr. James Tran, Investment Banking Analyst, Bloom Burton & Co.
  • Dr. Ryan Draker, Vice President of Scientific Services, Node Medcom
  • Dr. Lisa Leung, Manager of Collaborations Programs & Initiatives, Toronto Metropolitan University
  • Dr. Erin Stewart, Director of Clinical Operations & Head Scientist, Pentavere

JLM Symposium

This annual event, organized by the Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association, fosters scientific debate across disciplines, streams and institutes. The JLM commemorates the significant research contributions of the Dr. James Lepock, a former MBP faculty member, and provides opportunities for MBP students to present their research in a conference setting.

The day featured a student research showcase in the form of scientific posters presented online through VoiceThread and in person, which included most first-year MBP students. Oral presentations were made by MBP MSc and PhD candidates. There was also a 3-minute thesis competition featuring MBP students.

Presentations and posters were assessed by a group of MBP faculty and postdoc volunteers. Top presenters were recognized with a merit award at the reception following the event. The winners of these awards are as follows:

  • Top Lower-Year Seminar: Cristiana O’Brien (Jones lab), Sirtuin 3 inhibition targets acute myeloid stem cells through perturbation of fatty acid β-oxidation’.
  • Top Upper-Year Seminar: Paige Smith (O’Reilly lab), ‘Focused Ultrasound Improves the Penetration of Intrathecally Administered Methotrexate to the Spinal Cord’.
  • 3 Minute Thesis
    • Ethan Malkin (Bratman lab), 'Alarmed to Armed: Can Signals from a Tumour Help Immune Cells Fight Cancer?'.
    • Marina Silic (Graham lab), ‘Blurry Brain Scans: A Clearer Picture’.
  • Research Posters 
    • Peter Lin (Penn lab), 'An Isogenic CRISPR-KO Screen Identifies Topoisomerase 1 as a Novel MYC-Dependent Vulnerability'.
    • Jeffrey Zabel (Vitkin lab), 'Quantification of the tumor microvascular response to stereotactic body radiation therapy using optical coherence tomography angiography and dynamic contrast enhanced MRI'.

The event also featured two inspirational keynote addresses. The first was delivered by MBP Alumna Dr. Christine Chio, Assistant Professor of Genetics in the Institute of Cancer Genetics, Columbia University Medical Center, with a talk entitled Methionine oxidation regulates pancreatic cancer metastasis’. The second keynote address was presented by Dr. Paul Boutros, former MBP Professor and current Professor in the Departments of Human Genetics and Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, with a talk entitled ‘Molecular & Cellular Determinants of Cancer Lethality’.

Symposium a Success

It was truly remarkable to be able to come together at an in-person event for the first time in over two years. Whether in-person or online, MBP students enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their work, answer questions, engage in lively discussions with colleagues and learn more about possible career paths after the completion of their graduate degrees. Faculty found the event to be an excellent vehicle to mentor students and learn about graduate research being conducted in our extremely diverse department.

The Department wishes to thank members of the MBPGSA for the hard work and dedication that went into organizing the MBP Symposium. In particular, we want to recognize the tireless efforts the JLM Committee (Angelica Manalac, Esther Matus, Brian Nghiem, Marina Silic, Catherine Song and Foram Vyas), members of the MBP Career Development Association (Ian Cheong, Linsey Gong, Cindy Ha, Elisabeth Liedtke, Peter Lin, Ningdi Liu, Ruhma Masud, Ruiyan Tan and Ryan Tian) and the MBP Podcast Committee (Jacqueline Law, Fupan Yao and Ji Zhang).

A special thanks to the MBP faculty and postdocs who volunteered their time to act as competition judges and to the event sponsors, listed below:

  • Department of Medical Biophysics, U of T
  • STEMCELL Technologies
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
  • Canadian Society for Molecular Biology (CSMB)

View the Symposium website to learn more about this event.

See the Virtual Research Posters.

Learn more about the MBPGSA and how MBP students can get involved.