The Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt and Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation, Arizona

Getting to Know Dr. Marianne Sadar

I’m a very proud Canadian of Norwegian and Slovenian descent. My early years were those reminiscent of a nomad. Living in the USA, Mexico (where we had a chicken we named Marco Pollo), and then back to Canada to Kimberley where I learned to ski at 4 years old, then Esterhazy where I learned what it meant to be cold (but a dry cold which frankly didn’t mean much), and then to Kamloops where I finally thawed out. Upon arriving in Kamloops, my family lived in a tent for the first couple weeks of my school. This scored me huge admiration from the other children. No doubt that was when my popularity peaked. Summers in the Interior of British Columbia were mostly spent in the Chilcotin/Caribou area where my father was an inspector for the Ministry of Mine and would spend his days assessing prospect claims in the mountains while I fished, panned for gold, practiced arcery, and swam. Winters were spent on the ski hills and this remains my passion today.

Observing nature and being taught how things work from an early age were probably the greatest contributing factors to my pursuit of a career in science. My first job, in grade 7, was cleaning golf clubs for $2 per hour at Kamloops Golf and Country Club. During and after my undergraduate degree I worked as an organic chemist to make pheromones, ink for press publications, and analyzed samples for Environment Canada and then Fisheries and Oceans. I pursued my PhD when I was older, after working for a number of years. I had ambitions of getting my PhD in an area that would make me competitive for a position as a Research Scientist with Fisheries and Oceans at the West Vancouver laboratory to study environmental contaminants present in our waters, aquatic organisms, and sediments. To this end, I packed-up and moved to the U.K. and then Sweden where I successful defended my dissertation entitled “The regulation and Mechanism of Induction of Cytochrome P450 in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)” , and consumed spaghetti seven days a week for indefinite periods of time. My cooking skills have not improved since then and I still love spaghetti.

Dr. Nicholas Bruchovsky, a prominent MD/PhD at BC Cancer, recruited me in 1995 as a post-doctoral fellow to work on discovering the molecular mechanisms that drive advanced prostate cancer. His philosophy was that all research done in his department should have the goal of improving the lives of patients. Today I am still at BC Cancer, where for 24 years I have been working on therapies for advanced prostate cancer. In 2009, I co-founded a spin-out company as President and today this is a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq (EPIX, Mkt Cap US$93.8M). The goal of the company is to commercialize and bring to market the drugs that I discovered with my collaborator Dr. Raymond Andersen of the Chemistry Department at UBC for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. A first generation drug, ralaniten-acetate, provided some indication of efficacy in clinical trials that completed in November 2017. A next-generation drug, EPI-7386, with improved metabolic stability, is expected to be tested in clinical trials early in 2020.


What inspired you to pursue science?

My early exposure to the natural world. From rocks to insects – these were fascinating to me and still are today.

What do you like most about your job?

The freedom to be creative and pursue my own ideas. I have never been good at taking orders and conforming to another person’s ideas or instruction.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about being a PhD?

That nine year-olds believe I know something about everything in the universe.

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

Everyday starts with exercise, following which I’ll go through the priority list of what needs to be done by deadlines. My favorite days are when I see new data-these days are always wonderful. I still remember, when Jun Wang in my lab showed me data of a compound we were testing on prostate cancer xenografts. The drug was working and the tumours were shrinking! I ran around the building showing the data to everyone who would humour me.

What advice would you give to recent new entrants?

Aim high and pursue your passions. Challenge dogmas. Enjoy life’s pleasures and ignore the little annoyances that usually tag along.

Favourite Spot in B.C.?

The top of Seventh Heaven on Blackcomb Mountain on a clear day after a fresh snowfall.

Best piece of advice?

Best piece of advice was to be more “thick-skinned”. Worst piece of advice was “to smile when giving a scientific lecture”. See why I needed the first piece of advice.

Secret talent?

Making tortillas from masa (corn flour).

How do you like to recharge?

Being in nature, skiing, or travelling to exotic destinations.



Dr. Blake Gilks: Spem Reduxit

Dr. Blake Gilks, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine graduated to emeritus status this August. He has accrued a stunning array of academic and clinical accomplishments, national and international recognition for his leadership in both gynecologic pathology and quality assurance, and a profoundly impactful record of mentorship. In regards to the latter, many successful careers such as my own being impossibilities without the decades of wise counsel, encouragement and gentle ridicule he provided.

Dr. Deborah McFadden Congratulations on Your Retirement

Dr. Deborah McFadden has been an outstanding Dept Head at the BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre and has left a positive legacy behind in this department. She joined C&W in 1985, specialized in pediatric pathology, cytogenetics and embyropathology. For more than a decade, Deborah was Head of the Dept of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at C&W. In this role, she advocated for excellence in lab medicine and built a cohesive team of talented pathologists and clinical scientists. She was an inclusive and strong leader who went the extra mile to uphold the highest quality of lab medicine for pediatric and women’s health. She modeled outstanding leadership skills and mentored several colleagues in the department mindful of succession planning. She had a proactive analytical approach and grounded in integrity and fairness. Through her leadership and strategic planning, the department has developed a robust research program with support for junior faculty. She values life-long learning and received the Canadian Certified Physician Executive credential, a peer reviewed, national standards-based in recognition for her contribution and excellence in medical leadership.


to our newly promoted faculty members

Dr. Hélène Côté (UBC Hospital)
Dr. Cornelia Laule (ICORD and DMCBH)
Associate Professor
Dr. Andrew Minchinton (BCCA/BCCRC)
Associate Professor (December 2018)
Dr. Christopher Lowe (St. Paul’s Hospital)
Clinical Professor
Dr. Aleksandra Stefanovic (VGH/VCHRI)
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Kristine Roland (VGH/VCHRI)
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Bojana Rakic (BCCH/BCCHRI)
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Anna Lee (BCCH/BCCHRI)
Clinical Associate Professor
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Angela Fung (St. Paul’s Hospital)
Clinical Assistant Professor

Did You Know...

Workday Magic

All UBC employee expense transactions will be streamlined using the Workday Expense Module. THIS MEANS NO NEED FOR PAPER FORMS.

  • Just take a picture of your receipts, and start your 'expense reports' module from any location and device.
  • Intuitive expense descriptions no londer require memorizing or looking for account code
  • Expenses incurred using a UBC VISA Card & P Card are automatically synchronized to your account, saving you time during the review process.
  • Intuitive user interface with online review and approval workflow means you get reimbursed faster!
  • The Workday library videos can be found at ( To view the HR Call-In session recordings, use the password "irphr".

Research Spotlights


from The Department of Molecular Oncology at BC Cancer

Dr. Poul Sorensen Receives the 2019 Bloom Burton Award

Members of the Department of Molecular Oncology at BC Cancer are often in the news and making news

We are proud to highlight some of our recent achievements

TRKing the Path to a Tumour Agnostic Drug Target

In early 1998, my lab at BC’s Children’s Hospital set out to solve a practical problem in diagnostic pediatric pathology—how could we differentiate between a benign lesion called fibromatosis and a malignant tumour called congenital or infantile fibrosarcoma (CFS or IFS), both of which occur in very young children under 2 years of age, but which are often indistinguishable under the microscope.

The latest from

Dr. Karsan's Lab

Stay up to date with the latest news from Dr. Karsan's Lab

  • Dr. Aly Karsan was recently awarded three new grants;
  • A new article was published in cell reports; and
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Karsan's Lab received the MSFHR Research Trainee Award 2019

Diet and cancer studies

from Dr. Krystal's Lab

Can Your Diet Affect Your Risk of Getting Cancer

Based on Otto Warburg’s finding in the 1920s that cancer cells take up and require far higher levels of glucose than normal cells, we asked, in our initial studies, if we could lower blood glucose (BG) levels sufficiently, through diet changes alone, to slow tumour growth.

projects and research initiatives

at BC Children's Hospital

iTARGET Autism Initiative

This work is ongoing through an exciting $7M project called, “The individualized Treatments for Autism Recovery using Gene-Environment Targets (iTARGET- Autism)”, funded by Genome BC. This is a Canada-wide study, and we are contributing data from about 1,500 individuals with autism, most of whom were recruited through the Provincial Medical Genetics Program at Children’s and Women’s Hospital.


P2RISM Study

Lab physicians, Drs. Vilte Barakauskas and Kate Chipperfield, at BC Children's and Women's Hospital, alongside patient co-leads are spearheading the P2RISM study (Pregnancy and Pediatric Reference Intervals for Safe Medicine) to help improve care for pregnant women and newborns.



Latest News


PATHOLOGY SUMMER RESEARCH OR AN EXTENSIVE ANATOMY LESSON? The team: consisting of (left to right) Norbert Banyi, Dr. Diana Ionescu, Helen Dyck, Dr.Lisa Borretta, Dr. Michelle Ross, Dr. Mike Steel, and Dr.Kimberley Hamilton.

Residency Program

Some of the events that happened during the year

Graduate Studies Program

Newly admitted graduate students

BMLSc Program

Congratulations to our 2019 BMLSc Graduates!

A closer look

Meet Our Newest Postdoctoral Fellow

Meet Our Newest Postdoctoral Fellow

Meet Our Newest Postdoctoral Fellow

Who she is: Melanie Pieber
Where she’s from: Austria
What she does: Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Quandt's Lab

Top Ranked Abstract Selected for an Oral Presentation at Pathology Day 2019

Who he is: Sho Hiroyasu
Where he’s from: Japan
What he does: Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Granville’s Lab



Dr. Poul Sorensen

2019 Bloom Burton Award

Bloom Burton

Dr. Poul Sorensen

Named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Royal Society of Canada

Dr. Poul Sorensen

Distinguished Achievement

Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Dr. David Huntsman

Named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Royal Society of Canada

Dr. Martin Trotter

2019 Distinguished Service Award

Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP-ACP)

Dr. Cheryl Wellington

Innovation and Translational Research Award


Dr. Michael Nimmo

2019 Wallace Wilson Leadership Award

Medical Alumni Association’s AGM

Dr. Bruce McManus

2019 Order of British Columbia

British Columbia

Dr. Muhammad Morshed

Distinguished Microbiologist Award 2019

Canadian College of Microbiologists

Dr. Blake Gilks

2019 Honorary Medical Alumni Award

Faculty of Medicine, UBC



Dr. Andrew Roth

Scholar Award


Dr. Glen Tibbits

NSERC Project Grant

Dr. William Hsiao

Scholar Award


Dr. Aly Karsan

"Hematopoietic stem cell aging"

CIHR Project Grant

Dr. Cheryl Wellington

"Targeting AXL signaling for aAlzheimer’s Disease and apolipoprotein E regulation "

Weston Brain Institute Rapid Response Funding