Written by: Will Lockwood, Chair of the Planning Committee / 2021

Pathology Day 2021

After the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of last year’s version of the event, Pathology Day was back on in a new virtual format for 2021. Over 150 department members participated in an interactive setting, attending oral presentations, viewing posters and talking with colleagues face to face through avatars all in a virtual conference hall. This provided a venue to experience the latest work from researchers throughout our diverse department, both at the junior and established levels, highlighting the quality and innovation in research that has occurred in last two years, all in our own backyard.

Dr. Don Brooks kicked off the proceedings and setting up the concurrent sessions from graduate students and residents, spotlighting the contributions of trainees across UBC department sites. There was a touching tribute session dedicated to the late Dr. David Hardwick, a man that influenced many trainees and faculty in the department and responsible for much of its development over the past decades.

The morning portion of the meeting ended with Dr. Brooks introducing our James Hogg lecturer, Dr. Poul Sorensen. Dr. Sorensen has dedicated his career to understanding the mechanisms driving the development of childhood cancers and is widely recognized for his contributions that have influenced the treatment of these diseases. Drawing on his vast experience, he gave an excellent talk entitled, "Stress management in the tumor cell workplace--lessons learned from studying high-risk pediatric sarcomas" . Dr. Sorensen’s lecture was very well received and generated thoughtful questions and discussion from the audience.


Dr. Poul Sorensen is a Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He serves as Distinguished Scientist and Johal Chair in Childhood Cancer Research at the BC Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Sorensen’s lecture was about “Stress management in the tumor cell workplace--lessons learned from studying high-risk pediatric sarcomas” .


The Keynote’s address “Visualizing biological complexity in 3D” was given by Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, the Gobind Khorana Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Precision Cancer Drug Design and Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC. Dr. Subramaniam is a world leader in structural biology and drug design, and demonstrated his groups work on using cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to understand biology and viruses such as HIV and SARS-CoV-2. It was a captivating lecture and facilitated tremendous interest and discussion from the audience.


Dr. Ramon Klein Geltink from Pathology and Laboratory Medicine discussed his work entitled “Immunometabolism for breakfast: are you always what you eat?” and Dr. Lisa Osborne from Microbiology and Immunology shared “Origin stories: effects of intestinal insults on peripheral immunity and inflammation” .

This year Dr. Michael Lizardo, the Research Associate with the top ranked abstract, discussed his work on "Granzyme B: An important Contribution to Dermal-Epidermal Separation in Blistering Skin Conditions" .


Over 75 abstracts were submitted by trainees and staff, highlighting the broad spectrum of research topics throughout the department; from these a number were selected for presentation during either the Resident or Graduate and Undergraduate Student Oral Platform Sessions. The poster session was the hit of the day as attendees wandered around the virtual poster hall via their avatars, checking out posters and asking questions face-to-face with the presenters. This also afforded the opportunity to talk spontaneously with colleagues, networking and catching up with people for social and scientific discussion. While not as intimate as in person meetings, this was a welcome change from the months of Zoom meetings we have all experienced over the course of the pandemic.


Pathology Day concluded with an awards session led by Dr. Helene Cote, Chair of the Pathology Department Awards Committee. While brief, this afforded the opportunity to recognize the achievements of many of our trainees, faculty and staff as indicated below. Overall, the day was a success, and we look forward to next year’s meeting which will hopefully be in person with food, drinks, music and another great lineup of presentations!

Pathology Awards 2021

TOP Oral Presentations
Resident 1st Place
Julia Naso
Supervisor: Dr. A Churg and Dr. S Yip

"Deep-learning based classification distinguishes sarcomatoid malignant mesotheliomas from benign spindle cell mesothelial proliferations"

Resident 2nd Place
Jenny Chu

Population-based screening for BRAF V600E in metastatic colorectal cancer reveals increased prevalence and poor prognosis

Resdident 3rd Place
Kevin Shopsowitz
Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Vercauteren

Optimized radar-plots for B-ALL minimal residual disease analysis

Graduate 1st Place
Elyn Rowe
Supervisor: Dr. Cheryl Wellington

Peripheral apolipoprotein E: overlooked in the context of alzheimer disease?

Graduate 2nd Place
Rachel Cederberg
Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Bennewith

Eosinophils kill tumor cells via degranulation and decrease pulmonary colonization by metastatic mammary tumor cells

Graduate 3rd Place
Jennifer Ji
Supervisor: Dr. David Huntsman

The proteomic and metabolomic landscape of clear cell ovarian cancer

TOP Poster Awards
Damian Feldman-Kiss
Supervisor: Dr. Li Wang

Interference assessment of ketone bodies on laboratory pediatric creatinine measurement: a multi-centre study

Lisa Decotret
Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Bennewith

Modeling glioblastoma invasion using an ex vivo brain slice invasion assay

Fang Fang Li
Supervisor: Drs. Jassem & Prystajecky

Assays to measure the impact of previous coronavirus infection on the immune response generated from SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination

Forouh Kalantari
Supervisor: Dr. David Huntsman

The functional effect of ARID1A and PIK3CA mutations in human endometrial organoids

Angela Mo
Supervisor: Dr. Aly Karsan

Elucidating the mechanisms of leukemogenesis driven by fbxo11 loss

Farnaz Sahragard
Supervisor: Dr. B. Shadgan and Dr. B. Kwon

Testing the safety of an optical sensor designed to monitor spinal cord hemodynamics

Darcy Sutherland
Supervisor: Dr. I. Birol & Dr. M Krajden

Synthetic antimicrobial peptides kill multi-drug resistant pathogens in vitro

Hai-Feng Zhang
Supervisor: Dr. Poul Sorensen

Proteomic screens for suppressors of anoikis identify IL1RAP as a new surface target for immunotherapy in Ewing sarcoma

Department Awards
Dr. Elizabeth Bryce
Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Tracy Tucker
Excellence in Education Award
Dr. Vilte Barakauskas
Excellence in Clinical Service Award
Dr. Marthe Charles
Most Valuable Player Award
Dr. Andrew Minchinton
Research & Discovery Award
Dr. Gang Wang
Early Career Research & Discover Award
Dr. Anthony Hsieh
Mentoring Award
Charlene Porter
Staff Service (Tech) Award
Joanne Wouterse
Staff Service (Admin) Award