SEASONAL CELEBRATION Friday, January 19, 2018 | 5:00 PM TO 7:00 PM | UBC Medical Student and Alumni Centre (MSAC)
PATHOLOGY ARTS GALA: Friday, March 9th, 2018
The Residency Program office will be closed from noon on Dec 22 and reopen on Jan 2nd, 2018
Pathology Head Office will be closed from noon on Dec 22 and reopen on Jan 2nd, 2018


Michael Allard BSc MD FRCPC
Professor and Head, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC



Figure 1 Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Administrative leave provides a break from day to day administrative duties allowing dedicated time to focus on learning new things, developing ideas, and pursuing research interests and approaches. It is also a chance for relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation (R3). It is fair to say I’ve taken advantage of both these opportunities during my recent 6-month administrative leave. Since returning I’m consistently asked, where I was, what I did, and what was the highlight? So, I thought it would be a good idea to sumarize my time away in an attempt to answer those questions. What follows is a partial answer because I will focus on the R3 part of the leave.

We spent the first three months in Europe. Remembrances of that time are numerous, varied and vivid and it is very hard to nail down a specific highlight or even two. Because of this, I thought I would share some, but not all, of the many memorable times to provide a sense of what we did, saw, and experienced.

Our first stop was Edinburgh where we visited our son Matt. He was doing an exchange term at the University of Edinburgh as part of his final year in UBC Law. Weather cooperated so we were able to enjoy this very walkable historic city, including a short trek to the top of Calton Hill for a fine panoramic view of Edinburgh (Figure 1) and the many spires and chimney pots across the city prominently on display. It was always easy to reward and refresh ourselves with a pint at any number of local establishments (Figure 2).

Figure 2

We then flew to Madrid, our first stop in Continental Europe. Madrid is a vibrant city and a joy to explore on foot. Madrid is blessed with a triumvirate of amazing museums (the Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia) all within very close proximity, where one can view masterpieces such as Picasso’s Guernica and Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. A particular memory was stumbling unexpectedly on traditional flamenco being performed in a small neighbourhood bar (Figure 3). Matt joined us in Madrid and together we toured Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, and attended a Champions League Quarter Final match between Atletico Madrid and Leicester. The home team was victorious and, perhaps needless to say, some Leicester fans were true to form, battling police in plazas filled with tear gas at night.

Figure 3

Madrid was the starting point of a three-month, >9000km road trip in a small boxlike car, the Citroen C3 Picasso (think Kia Soul). Our journey took us across southern Spain, a good chunk of Portugal, northern Spain, southern France, and portions of Germany. Ever winding country roads and maze-like urban streets, all seemingly too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time, seemed to be the norm. I was very thankful all countries we visited drove on the same side of the road as here in Canada. We found ourselves reliant upon (or dare I say at the mercy of) always friendly female voices from the car’s GPS or our iPad’s Google Maps whose instructions were frustratingly often wrong.

We headed south from Madrid toward Andalusia first passing through the Plains of La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote with its windmills (Figure 4) that he so gallantly “tilted” at. Andalusia is a place of sun, fiestas, flamenco, and bullfights. It is also a place where Islam and Christianity collided; the results of which can be seen in Cordoba with its Mezquita, a former mosque now a cathedral, and Granada with the Alhambra, an impressive Moorish palace and fort complex, as well as the many white villages in the region.

An unplanned yet remarkable experience was Semana Santa. This roughly translates to Holy Week, an event that occurs every year throughout Spain the week before Easter and is celebrated with particular fervor in Andalusia.

snapshot of news and activities within BCCA

Molecular Oncology

(SCCOHT) Retreat in Vancouver – October 26-27, 2017
Jeremy Jass Prize for Research Excellence
New students / Graduated Students
Back from Sabbatical | Poul Sorensen
Grants awarded: CANARIE | Sohrab Shah
MSFHR Fellowship awarded
Andrew McPherson
“Evolutionary Determinants Of Treatment Resistant High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Investigated At Single Cell Resolution ”
MSFHR Fellowship awarded
Amal EL-Naggar
“Targeting stress granules: A novel strategy to inhibit Ewing sarcoma metastasis”



From left to right is Dr Ingrid Elisia, Dr Gerry Krystal, Brandon Cho and Mariah Hay. Not shown is Vivian Lam.

How Chronic Inflammation Leads to Cancer

Ingrid Elisia, Vivian Lam and Gerald Krystal
Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Agency

You are chopping up vegetables and you cut yourself with a kitchen knife. What you don’t realize, as you reach for your anti-bacterial cream and band-Aid, is that you have just started a breathtaking battle that you hardly notice! First off, the damaged skin (epidermal) cells and underlying immune cells (specifically white blood cells called mast cells and macrophages in the dermis), release a cocktail of molecules (see Fig 1). Importantly, different cocktails are released in response to different microbial invaders. So, for example, different molecules are released if the entering microbe is a virus, a bacterium or yeast. Within seconds your capillaries dilate in response to some of the molecules and your plasma starts leaking out of your blood stream to wash away the microbes. This makes your cut feel hot and look red and swollen

The first cells to be recruited (within 60 min) into your cut from your blood stream are white blood cells called neutrophils. These cells explode on entry, releasing intracellular molecules that promote inflammation, like reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage the invaders. As the neutrophils die, they form the pus we sometimes see. The next immune cells to arrive into the cut are white blood cells called monocytes (within 24 hrs of getting cut) and, upon leaving the blood stream, they turn into macrophages. If the neutrophils have already won the battle, the remaining neutrophils don’t explode but die quietly. When they die quietly they trigger the incoming monocytes to become healer macrophages and they quietly gobble up the dead microbes and dead neutrophils and secrete anti-inflammatory molecules to begin the healing process. At the same time, some of these macrophages go into lymph vessels with pieces of the invaders to tell helper T cells in the nearest lymph node that we got it handled and you don’t have to expend a lot of energy expanding specific T cells or B cells that recognise the invaders to help out.

Funding News

Back row (L-R): Jeff Cullis, Robert Flyman, Lateef Yang, Dr. Aly Karsan, Sarah Munro, Lucas Swanson, Dr. Ian Bosdet, Rod Docking, Dr. Jeremy Parker.Middle row (L-R): Siong Kong, Dr. Andy Mungall, Miruna Bala, Liz Starks, Arthur Lai, Dr. Richard Moore, Amy Carr. Front row (L-R): Anita Charters, Shruti Srivastava, Cynthia Chow, Erika Yorida

The Centre for Clinical Genomics awarded
$2 million grant

Anita Charters & Aly Karsan
Centre for Clinical Genomics, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
The Centre for Clinical Genomics (CCG; is a state-of-the-art CAP-accredited next-generation clinical sequencing laboratory housed in the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) at BC Cancer. The CCG team includes scientists, informaticians, technicians, and various other staff with specialized expertise at the GSC.

BC Cancer’s Centre for Clinical Genomics (CCG) at the Genome Sciences Centre was recently awarded a Genome BC Health Exemplar Strategy grant entitled “Automation of the Clinical Bioinformatics Pipeline at the Centre for Clinical Genomics.”

Co-funded by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), the $2 million project over three years will address the need for more automation and analysis software to make genomic testing available to a greater number of people. The CCG has pioneered the application of clinical next-generation sequencing (NGS) assays for cancer as well as non-malignant conditions to patients in BC and across Canada.

The project will create a simple web-based process to receive patient information from clinicians requesting a genomic test, analyze the resulting data in an automated and quality-controlled fashion, and integrate patient demographics and analysis results into an intuitive report accessible via the same web-tool the clinician used to submit the sample,” says Dr. Karsan, Medical Director of the CCG. The outcome of this project will result in sustainable and scalable delivery of clinical next-generation sequencing assays to patients in BC.

The CCG was the first Canadian lab to deliver NGS testing and has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) since February 2011. The CCG was also the first Canadian lab to offer province-wide NGS testing for solid and liquid tumors, supporting the goal to improve patient care through precision medicine.

Dr. Aly Karsan and researchers from this project team with their families participating in the Terry Fox Run in Vancouver on Sept 17, 2017

Another funding success

Joanne Johnson & Aly Karsan
Centre for Clinical Genomics, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
New funding from the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) aims to help researchers identify useful biomarkers and treatments for acute leukemia that are more effective and less toxic.

Program leader Dr. Aly Karsan and principal investigators Drs. Connie Eaves, Andrew Weng, Martin Hirst, have been awarded nearly $7.5 million in funding over five years from the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) for the Terry Fox New Frontier Program Project Grant in Exploiting Pathogenic Mechanisms in Acute Leukemia for Clinical Translation.

The overall long-term goal of this program is to better understand the difference between normal blood-forming cells and leukemic cells, and thereby to identify and exploit vulnerable disease-causing pathways that may be shared across different types of acute leukemias that can then be translated into useful biomarkers and treatments that are more effective and less toxic.

Four projects and two supporting cores, providing key technical support, are proposed that will focus on examples of the worst types of leukemia known, develop human models of these and, in concert with world experts in this field, will use these models to search for common therapeutic targets.

Co-investigators on this project are Drs. Keith Humphries, Peter Lansdorp, Gregg Morin and Raewyn Broady. See the funding announcement on the Terry Fox Research Institute website.

But for right now:

So long David Owen!

David Owen Retirement

David A. Owen, MB (Wales), FR
Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC | VGH/VCHRI
When I tried to google the definition of a British, excuse me, Welsh gentlemen I was surprised not to find a picture of David Owen! After all, who could be more fitting for this category than our esteemed colleague?

Dr. Owen originally hails from Northern Wales and received his medical degree at Prifysgol Cymru (aka University of Wales) in Cardiff. (I was fortunate enough to visit the university a few years back and was struck by the institutions motto which is so exemplified by David Owen: Goreu Awen Gwirionedd – The best inspiration is truth.) For those of us who have had the fortune of working alongside him in the Division of Anatomic Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital - and there have been many, as David Owen has been a member of the Division since 1980 (!) – he has been a trusted consultant not only in the realm of clinical conundrums but also in the finer aspects of life, especially anything related to travelling the globe.

Coincidentally, as I am writing this piece I received an email from him and I have to share the first paragraph as it truly illustrates his passions:
Greetings from Martinique.
Warm and sunny.
French wine etc.

For years the upper drawer of his desk was the source of never ending maps of every corner of the world and at the mere mention of an upcoming trip these maps would be consulted in great detail and a recommendation for an outstanding restaurant or sight to see was given – they never disappointed.


Faculty Promotions

Congrats to UBC's Jiri Frohlich,
on his appointment to
the Order of British Columbia.

/ December 2017

Newly promoted faculty members

Please join us in congratulating four of our faculty member who were recently promoted and/or tenured – a most deserving achievement!
  • Dr. Yip, Stephen - Associate Professor (Partner)
  • Dr. Rajcan-Separovic, Evica - Clinical Professor
  • Dr. Daw, Zohra - Clinical Associate Professor
  • Dr. Ballantyne, Marcia - Clinical Assistant Professor

Social Events

2017 Halloween at VGH

Tales from VGH

On October 31 2017, Dr. Michael Nimmo, VGH Pathologist, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Autoimmune Laboratory Director, UBC Pathology Residency Executive Program Director, and unofficial VGH Pathology Hallway Monitor, woke up in his Dunbar mansion. As he was riding the elevator down to his kitchen, he made a mental note to install Muzak in his elevator before his housewarming party in early 2018, at which time he plans to invite his pathology colleagues, students, and mentees, to a feast containing his favorite foods – namely sushi, dim sum, curry, and falafel.




Introducing the BMLSc Associate Director
Welcome to New Course Coordinators …
Program Curriculum Changes
Vancouver Summer Program 2017



Residency Program Manager

The Pathology Residency admin office, which consists of Shelley Berkow (Program Manager) and Dan Kim (Program Assistant), is currently full steam ahead in CaRMS mode. Interviews will be the week of January 15, and we look forward to meeting all our applicants in the New Year. It’s one of our busiest but favourite times of the year, as we get to talk to students from different provinces across the country, find out about their interests, the stress of CaRMS, the cities they come from, but also we get to tell them about our fantastic pathology programs, and the beautiful city we live in.

In July we welcomed our PGY2 residents who have completed their basic clinical year to the start of their Pathology training, and PGY1 residents for Hematopathology who do not do a clinical year.

In Anatomical Pathology, we welcomed, Sammy Au, Jenny Chu, Mike Steel and Raymond Yip. Lynne Li in Medical Microbiology, Adrian Levine in Neuropathology and for Hematopathology, Eric McGinnis, Muntadhar Al-Moosawi and Bhupinder Johal. Medical Biochemistry is now a subspecialty of Internal Medicine, and Catherine Cheng (PGY4) joined the program.

Our admin offices will be moving to the Gordon & Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre in the Spring. More info to follow once a date is confirmed.

The Residency Program office will be closed from noon on Dec 22 and reopen on Jan 2nd.

Pathology Student Association (PaSA)

The Pathology Student association (PaSA) is a UBC Graduate Student Society affiliate organization that was formed in 2015 and has since organized the annual Pathology Arts Gala along with recurring social and career development events for the department’s graduate students.

PATHOLOGY ARTS GALA: Friday, March 9th, 2018

Welcome Night

At the fall of 2017, PaSA hosted a Welcome Night social event to introduce new coming graduate students to their peers. This bi-annual event also provides a chance to gather department's students from all years to meet and socialize with their colleagues. We are grateful to have nearly all first and second year students participated this time, as well as many from upper years. PaSA hopes to continue this custom in the coming years.

Industry Night

The Industry Night career information event, held on November 27th 2017, was a wonderful opportunity for the department’s graduate students to explore possible future career paths. Great thanks to our speakers of the night, ranging from scientific recruiter to senior sales , and our recently graduated student, to share their experiences in the biotechnology industry. Their advices on job application and development of soft skills, as well as how their interests have led to their current position, would profoundly enhance the success of our students in navigating their future career paths. Special thanks to our generous main sponsors of the night, MilliporeSigma, and contributions from the Pathology department.


SINCE April 2017

Dr.Samuel Aparicio

UBC’s Distinguished University Scholar (Research)

University of British Columbia

Dr. Andrew Churg

Residents Mentoring Award (Education)

Pulmonary Pathology Society at USCAP

Dr. Vicky Monsalve

Distinguished individual in Canada (Research)

The rank of Commander in the National Order of Merit of Colombia

Dr. Tony Ng

2017 Innovation and Translational Research Award (Research)

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute

Dr. Blake Gilks

2017 Innovation and Translational Research Award (Research)

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute

Dr. Corree Laule

Distinguished Achievement Awards (Education)

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Kevin Bennewith

Distinguished Achievement Awards (Research)

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Marcel Bally

Distinguished Achievement Awards (Service)

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Ian Mackenzie

Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize (Research)

University of British Columbia

Dr. Bruce McManus

Bill & Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement Award (Service)

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Christian Steidl

RSC New Scholar (Research)

Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Dan Holmes

2017 Research Excellence Award (Research)

Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists

Dr. Jiri Frohlich

Order of BC (Service)

British Columbia

Dr. Muhammad Morshed

Canadas Top 25 Immigrants 2017


Awards & Recognition Committee

You likely know of an individual in the Department who could be recognized with an award. Or perhaps you would like to be nominated yourself for a discipline-specific award? If you would like assistance with submitting a nomination for an award, whether for a colleague or for yourself, the PALM Awards & Recognition Committee is there to help.

The committee endeavours to promote the nomination of members of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine who demonstrate extraordinary or outstanding achievements. The awards can be at the departmental, faculty, university, national and international level. The committee will help to identify and engage available resources to enhance awards or opportunities for recognition. It can contact referees, review nomination letters, and otherwise assist in the preparation of nomination packages.

The Awards and Recognition Committee is composed of faculty members, a graduate student representative, a resident, an emeritus faculty member and a staff member. Our existing members are: Helene Cote (Chair), Mike Allard, Wan Lam, Louis Wadsworth, Suzanne Vercauteren, Blake Gilks, Natalie Firmino, Kenrry Chiu and Adeline Chan.

We’d like to encourage you to submit nominations for awards for any outstanding candidates (particularly women who are currently under-recognized) as these can benefit promotions, help attract high quality trainees, and even assist with funding applications. Please remember that deserving individuals will not be recognized unless they are nominated in the first place. By involving the Committee with your nomination, you will receive added guidance and support.