Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology





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Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology
675 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 0V9
Phone: 204-787-2137
Fax: 204-787-2190
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Past News

August 2015

We send best wishes to Heather Leslie, technician in Dr Mowat’s lab, on her well-deserved retirement. Heather has worked with us for 10 years and for the University of Manitoba over 42 years!

Jim Davie and Geoff Hicks each received a 2-year $120,000 operating grant from the Cancer Research Society. Jim’s grant was partnered with CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
Jim Davie is also a co-investigator on a CIHR team grant "Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network" worth $1,000,000 over the next 4 years. Jim will be working with labs involved in CEEHRC and Genome Canada’s Genomics Innovation Network centres to provide outreach and training resources for epigenomic research throughout Canada.

Stephen Pistorius and his collaborators Drs LoVetri, Buchanan and Fear who were awarded a 3-year, $375,000 grant from Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Prairies/ NWT for their project “3D Multimodality Ultrasound/ Microwave Breast Cancer Imaging for Treatment Monitoring”

May 2015

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2015 operating grants from CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. This year, our Foundation has committed $6.71 million in overall funding.

Dr Kirk McManus "Examining PARP1 as a novel drug target in RAD54B-deficient colorectal cancer cells"

Dr Davinder Jassal "The art of preventing broken hearts in colorectal and renal cell cancer"

Dr Harminder Singh "Fractures, osteoporosis and fracture risk assessment in cancer survivors"

Dr Harvey Quon "Circulating tumour cells as markers of treatment response and monitoring in patients with prostate cancer"

Dr Mark Nachtigal "Testing lipid-based therapy for drug-resistant ovarian cancer"

Dr Jason Park "Colorectal cancer screening in Manitoba: Analysis of factors associated with program performance measures and outcomes"

Dr Versha Banerji "Targeting glycogen synthase kinase-3 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia"



Erin Streu, a research nurse working with CLL patients, was awarded a grant for $255,000 from CSL to support subcutaneous immunoglobulin therapy for the province. She was also awarded the Merck Lectureship for the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology National Conference to promote the SCIG program. The award recognizes those whom best exemplifies a nursing program that is innovative and focuses on improving quality of life for patients and caregivers.

Dr Spencer Gibson was awarded 2-year $160,000 grant from Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada to study changes in metabolism in aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

CancerCare Manitoba has the provincial mandate to provide clinical services and leadership in cancer control to the people of Manitoba, as well as to provide academic excellence through world class research and education related to cancer and blood disorders. In 1969, the visionary leaders of CancerCare Manitoba and the University of Manitoba created an institution called the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology, which focused on research in molecular biology. I am very pleased to announce that the time has come to expand the scope of our research, through the new Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology (RIOH) at the CancerCare Manitoba Research Centre. With today's announcement, our efforts will now include the vital pillars of cancer research: Discovery, Prevention, Clinical Innovation/Health Services, and Patient Experience. Multidisciplinary teams from across the cancer continuum will collaborate, innovate and translate research into state of the art care for our patients. Already, recruitment and operational efforts are underway to augment the current complement of research scientists, and we envision inclusion of RIOH in the future CancerCare Manitoba building. We celebrate this expansion of scope with our valued Regional and National partners.

April 2015

Research Manitoba's investment of $5.95m in the first cluster and team grant competition was formally announced at an event on April 22nd. Hon. Kevin Chief, Minister of Jobs and the Economy, Christine Weise from Research Manitoba and Dr Digvar Jayas from the University of Manitoba congratulated the winning groups: Dr Jon McGavock "Developmental origins of chronic disease in children’s network (DEVOTION)" cluster from Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (formerly known as MICH), Dr Peter Jones "The Manitoba Personalized Lifestyle Research Program" (TMPLR) team from St Boniface and Dr Spencer Gibson’s CLL Cluster were congratulated.

Congratulations to Dr Sara Israels who was awarded a 2-year operating grant from Diagnostic Services of Manitoba for her proposal "Comparison of light transmission aggregometry and multiple electrode aggregometry for the evaluation of platelet function in patients with mucocutaneous bleeding."

Congratulations to Boyd McCurdy and Spencer Gibson who were both awarded 5-year NSERC operating grants.

February 2015

Sachin Katyal won the CIHR Early Career Award in Cancer. This $25,000 award is given annually to new investigator's in cancer research with the highest ranking operating grant.

Julius Awe (Mai lab) won the 2014 CancerCare Manitoba Astra Zeneca Dieter Hettig award for his work analyzing circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer.

Brent Guppy (McManus lab) and Lexi Ciapala (Gibson lab) won the University of Manitoba Sheu L Lee Family Scholarship in Oncology Research.

Rebecca Dielschneider (Gibson lab) won the University of Manitoba's 3 Minute Thesis competition and will be representing Manitoba at the Western Regional competition in May. Diego Rodriguez Herrera (Pistorius lab) finished second.

Sumanta Chatterjee (Raouf lab) and Yingfeng Zheng (Murphy lab) both received postdoctoral fellowships from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Prairies NWT chapter.

Daniel Huang (Katyal lab) was awarded a Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada studentship to work with Dr Katyal for two summers.

November 2014


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Congratulations to Ryan Zarychanski who was awarded the Liam J. Murphy Young Investigator Award. This award is presented to faculty members of Internal Medicine who has been on staff for less than 5 years and who show evidence of developing a strong research program. Dr. Liam Murphy is the late husband of Dr. Leigh Murphy. Ryan's work on anemia and iron deficiency was recently highlighted in the Washington Post http://wapo.st/11RWLQL.

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Mowat who recently achieved a new career milestone. He has been at MICB as a Senior Scientist for 30 years. This is a significant accomplishment and congratulations again! CancerCare Manitoba recognized a number of staff members for working with the organization for over 20 years including Dr Sara Israels and Dr James Johnston.

October 2014


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The University of Manitoba's Undergraduate Student Research Poster Competition was held earlier this month. Congratulations to Michael Xu from Sabine Mai's lab, who won first place in the Health Sciences category for his work on circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer. Rajas Tipnis from Sachin Katyal's lab also presented his work on brain tumours.

We bid a fond farewell to a valuable and long-time staff member. Mary Marko was with MICB for over ten years, helping sort out orders and grants. She begins her well-deserved retirement with a month long vacation in a tropical island. She will also have time to spend with family especially her grandchildren. We also said goodbye to Shihua He from the Davie lab. He has been a long standing member of Dr. Davie's lab and contributed to some of his most cited work. He is moving to the National Microbiology Labs (NML). We wish him luck on his new career.

The University installed a feature wall of Canada Research Chairs on the 2nd floor of the Brodie building. Congratulations to Jim Davie (3rd photo on the top row) for being part of this unique display.

September 2014

Michael Xu, a high school student in her lab, was recently profiled on Shaw GO!TV. Michael won a silver medal at the national science fair and the inaugural award for excellence in the field of biomechanical research from the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemistry. Michael's interview can be found here

Congratulations to Alex Ciapala and Veronica Lau, winners of the 2014 TFRI Rising Star graduate student entrance scholarships. Alex is in Spencer Gibson's lab and Veronica is in Jim Davies'.

The annual MICB retreat was held in Gimli on Sept 26-28 with talks from Dr Sean Egan from Sick Kids Hospital, and Dr Ann Chambers from London Health Sciences Centre. The theme of the retreat was Metastasis and Relapse. We were also joined by Dr Sri Navaratnam, CEO and President of CancerCare Manitoba, who announced our new name will be the Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology (RIOH) in the new year. Congratulations to Berardino Petrelli from Geoff Hicks' lab, winner of the inaugural Dragon's Den for his pitch on a mouse model of FASD. Thank you to everyone who gave excellent presentations and for going easy on the PIs during the soccer game. Next year's retreat will be held in Winnipeg.

August 2014

MICB researchers have been successful at receiving peer-reviewed grants this past month. Dr. Afshin Raouf received Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Prairie /NWT operating grants for three years. Dr. Jim Davie received a Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute innovation operating grant. And finally Dr. Sachin Katyal received a Research Manitoba operating grant.Congratulations on your successful grants!

The first MICB Summer Student Symposium was a huge success. The students gave a 10 minute oral presentation of the work they did. The quality of their work is similar to what our graduate students present. The best presentation was awarded to Ms. Nicole Weins who was supervised by Dr. Leigh Murphy. Nicole received a pair of tickets to the Bombers-Montreal game and a MICB toque. The symposium's guest speaker and judge was Dr Meghan Azad a former MICB summer student and graduate student who is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health and a Research Scientist with the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. She told us about her meetings with Nobel Laureates at the Lindau Meetings in Germany. Her experiences will be featured in an article for Nature magazine. We will continue this new tradition next year.

July 2014

MICB researchers have been successful at receiving peer-reviewed grants this past month. Dr. Ryan Zarychanski received a CIHR Young Investigator Award for five years. Dr. Sachin Katyal was awarded a five year open operating grant from CIHR as well. Drs. Leigh Murphy, Wayne Xu and Jim Davie each received Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Prairie /NWT operating grants for two to three years each. Dr. Jim Davie received a Manitoba Institute of Child Health operating grant. And finally Dr. Shantanu Banerji received a Thorlakson award for his research. Congratulations on your successful grants!

June 2014


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CancerCare Manitoba Research Day plaques to our top trainees. The Rick Hester poster award went to Dr Sajesh Babu, the best oral presentation award to Rebecca Dielschneider and for the second consecutive year, the Arnold Portigal Poster award to Laura Thompson. It was also special to present the MICB Merit Award to Eileen McMillan-Ward, who has worked for Sara Israels' for over 28 years. Eileen works tirelessly each year to make Halloween extra special for our pediatric oncology cases and does the Challenge for Life 20k walk to help raise money for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Eileen McMillan-Ward received the Karol McNeill technician award from the University. This annual award honours an outstanding technician in health sciences based on prolonged service, scientific excellence, leadership and mentorship. Congratulations Eileen for this well-deserved recognition!! At the same time, Kirk McManus received the Ken Hughes Young Investigator's Award from the University.

MICB trainees were outstanding at this year's Canadian Student Health Research Forum and the Faculty of Medicine's Major Student Research Awards. Dilshad Khan won the Apotex Fermentation Inc. Award for Molecular Biology. Yueqin Zhou won the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation (MMSF) Award as well as the MMSF poster award and a silver medal in the CIHR poster competition. Alexandra Kuzyk won the Dean of Graduate Studies Poster Award and Right Honourable Don Mazankowski award for excellence in oncology research. Laura Thompson and Brent Guppy received Honourable Mentions in the poster competitions. And last but not least, Rebecca Dielschneider won the Dean of Medicine Poster Award, the gold medal in the CIHR poster competition, and the Emil and Lynette Hain Award for excellence in Oncology Research.

May 2014


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16th annual CancerCare Manitoba Research Day was held on May 9th.
The keynote speaker was Dr Lillian Siu from Princess Margaret Hospital.
Congratulations to Laura Thompson - 1st place poster (Basic Science), Aly-Khan Lalani -1st place poster (Clinical Science)
Rebecca Dielschneider - 1st place oral (Basic Science), Lin Yang - 1st place oral (Clinical Science)
Photos from the event are available at RIOH's Facebook page or clicking here

April 2014


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Dr Sabine Mai received a $90,000 grant from the Manitoba Chapter of Canada's Ride for Dad to support her research on circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer. For Bombers' fans, you might recognize Doug Brown next to Sabine!




The Manitoba Medical Service Foundation in conjunction with the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre have selected Dr. Versha Banerji as the 11th Annual MMSF / SBRC Richard Hoeschen Memorial Award recipient. The award contributes to the operating expenses of a BSc (Med) supervisor for the supervision of a student at the University of Manitoba. This award has been presented to Dr. Banerji to support the project of student Rebecca Lang entitled "Modulating Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK-3) in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)".


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Some familiar faces appeared in the Winnipeg Sun this month as we were included in CancerCare Manitoba Foundation's Kick Cancer campaign!

March 2014

CCMB Research Day will be held on May 8th. Abstracts are due on April 24th, 2014. All trainees are encouraged to apply for either an oral or poster presentation. The guest speaker will be Dr. Lillian Siu from the Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Hospital, Ontario Cancer Institute.



We welcomed representatives from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Prairies/NWT and Federated Co-op Ltd for a cheque presentation on March 13th. Federated Co-op donated $1.5m to CBCF-Prairies/NWT to support breast cancer research. The money raised was from their Drink Pink coffee campaign from Co-op gas stations and grocery stores. CBCF is the third largest source of grant revenue and currently supports 7 different research projects at MICB donating nearly $4m over the last 7 years.



Congratulations to Versha Banerji on being awarded a research grant from the Shastri Indo-Canada Institute worth 6000000 rupees. The grant is with Dr. Renu Saxena of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to support research on CLL between Canada and India.

February 2014




Congratulations Dr Kirk McManus on winning the Rh Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research in the Health Sciences category.

Congratulations Brent Guppy and Alex Kuzyk for winning the University of Manitoba Emerging Leader's award. They will receive their Emerging Leader's awards at a banquet on March 13th, with special guest and celebrity astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Brent Guppy also won the Life Sciences Association of Manitoba's Most Promising Life Sciences' Student award. This is the second consecutive year that an MICB trainee has received the LSAM award.

Ryan Zarychanski's work on blood product utilization was recently profiled in this month's Wave magazine .

January 2014





Congratulations Dr Sabine Mai on receiving an Innovation grant from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute to study nuclear architecture in cancer.

Dr Songyan Liu, one of our bioinformaticians, will be attending the Advanced School in Oncogenesis and Translational Medicine for Cancer Treatment conference in Sao Paulo Brazil next month on a full travel award. Dr Liu will be attending workshops on decoding -omics data and learning how to program in R.

December 2013




Congratulations Dr Shanantu Banerji and Dr Wayne Xu, both recipients of grants from the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation to support their research on validating therapeutic targets in liposarcoma and developing prognostic signature in breast cancer.





Congratulations Drs Versha Banerji and Sachin Katyal who was both awarded operating grants from the University of Manitoba's University Research Grant Program.

We bid farewell to Dr Iris Gehrke and wish her the best of luck in Cologne, Germany.

We also say farewell to CancerCare Manitoba's President and CEO, Dr Dhaliwal. In the 10 years that Dr Dhaliwal has been at the head of CancerCare, he has changed the way cancer treatments have been delivered to patients, been a tireless advocate for cancer research and has been the public face of cancer in Manitoba. We wish him the best of luck in his retirement and thank him for his dedication to this organization.


A recent study by Dr Ryan Zarychanski and Dr Meghan Azad was published this week in the British Medical Journal showing that pregnant women taking probiotics during pregnancy has no effect on the development of asthma in their newborns. For more information, click on the University of Manitoba News.

November 2013

Congratulations to Dr Stephen Pistorius, recipient of a Grand Challenges Canada grant for $100,000 to design a portable imaging system to detect breast tumours in patients who are unable to receive a mammogram or other imaging techniques.
Learn more about his award from the article in the Winnipeg Free Press. After three scrubbed launch dates, the samples of yeast were finally prepared and shipped to Virginia to be sent by Cygnus rocket to the International Space Station. Ethan, Avery and Ryan from Argyle Elementary, along with their teacher Leslie (in black) and Maria (in the blue flight suit) were trained in how to prepare the sample by Liz Henson before coming to Dr Dan Gietz's lab to make the final samples. The entire day's experiments were covered by CBC, CTV and the Winnipeg Free Press. Congratulations Dr Jim Davie and Dr Mojgan Rastegar who received a $100,000 CIHR Catalyst grant to study the role of MeCP2 in neuronal development.

October 2013


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Photo by Jennifer Cabral

CancerCare's annual Hallowe'en celebration was held on Oct 31st. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Eileen McMillan-Ward and the rest of the volunteers at MICB, large donations of candy, pencils, posters, and crayons were handed out to the special trick-or-treaters from pediatrics.

A special thank you to Cheryl McFaddin at Cadbury, Marlene and her family, Flossy, Johnny and Darlene from St Vital Walmart, Ken Leslie at Royal Bank, Craig Poleshuk from Polo Park Boston Pizza, and McDonald's for the for their donation of a pencils, stickers, crayons, activity books, cookies, coupons for a free kids meal and apple slices!



Click here to go to the Winnipeg Free Press website
Photo by Ruth Bonneville

Dr Geoff Hicks and Yuequin Zhou recently published a new discovery on the role of TLS/FUS in neuronal degradation in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Their work has been profiled by the Metro News, the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV News.
Their paper was released in PLoS Genetics .





The 9th Annual CLL meeting was held at the Inn at the Forks with over 30 scientists and hematologists from across Canada and the United States. The keynote speaker at the conference were Dr Nicholas Chiorazzi from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Dr Kanti R. Rai from the Hofstra-NSLIJ School of Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

September 2013


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Photo provided by Nikki Chenier-Leiter, Boom Done Next

Manitoba Ride for Dad organized a special cheque presentation for Dr. Sabine Mai as the 2013 operating grant recipient for her research on identifying and characterizing circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer patients. This is the third consecutive year that Dr Mai has received funding from the Manitoba Ride for Dad.

August 2013

Donna Hewitt (research nurse), Diane McAlpine (research nurse) and Jean Gueverra (Mb Tumour Bank Data Entry Clerk) were special guests at a family reunion / 91st birthday party on August 11. They were invited to the party because the family wanted to participate in Dr Johnston and Dr Banerji's study on the genetics of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Because of Manitoba's high rates of CLL, our dedicated CLL clinic (the only one in Canada), and our reputation for CLL research, Mayo clinic approached us to join the study as the only non-US centre to participate. Family members were approached by another family member and with their consent prior to the event. A pedigree or family tree was created to more clearly demonstrate the intergenerational history of cancer within this family. Donna, Diane and Jean collected DNA saliva samples (spit), blood, and medical histories from willing family members. This will help to discover why some families have higher rates of cancer, especially CLL. Collecting samples from an entire family, all at once, was very efficient and a lot of fun.
The family expressed that their williningness to participate was in honour of their father who has passed away from CLL.
The birthday "girl" (the 91 year old) also recorded a video to James Johnston on Jean's iPhone thanking him "for giving me 20 more years with my husband". James had treated her husband in 1976 shortly after he had come to CancerCare.



Congratulations to Dilshad Khan on her PhD thesis defense "Role of Histone Deacetylases in Gene Expression and RNA Splicing". Dr Khan has accepted a research associate position in the Davie lab.

Congratulations also to Jennifer Schacter on her MSc oral defense "Estrogen Reguluation of Anti-Apoptotic BCL-2 Family Member MCl-1 Expression in Breast Cancer." We wish Jennifer the best of luck as she begins medical school.

We are glad to announce our next workshop on "Microscopy, Optics and Imaging". It will take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba from November 25-29, 2013.

TOPICS COVERED:
  • Basic Microscopy, Live Cell Imaging, Digital Imaging and Documentation, Automated Sample Analysis
  • Fluorescent Dyes, Probes, Instruments, Platforms and Applications
  • Fluorescent in situ Hybridization, Different Types and Applications
  • Introduction to Human Cytogenetics
  • FISH experiments, Imaging of Samples, Data Analysis and Discussion, Journal Clubs.

For more information, please e-mail us at Imaging_Workshop@umanitoba.ca

Registration: please submit your CV and a short summary of why you are interest in this course to Dr. Sabine Mai. Participants will be selected based on expressed training needs.
Space is limited. If accepted, you will be required to pay a registration fee to secure your training spot. No applications will be accepted after October 31, 2013.

Registration until October 31, 2013: $1800 (Cdn)
Cancellations until October 31, 2013 : Refund less a $500 administration fee
No Refunds after October 31, 2013

July 2013



Photo provided by Canale Communications For her work on 3D Nuclear Telomere Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease, Dr. Sabine Mai was named a finalist of the Cognition Challenge supported by the Consulate General of Canada in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. The Cognition Challenge invited researchers to submit their solutions to address problems of learning and memory related to Alzheimer's disease and cognitive disorders. Dr. Mai's proposed using 3D imaging to distinguish mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer's patients from age-matched controls. The method involves swabbing cells from a cheek and then examining the telomeres. Telomeres are sections of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from decay. The method determines telomere cell signatures using 3D imaging and software developed at the Manitoba Institute for Cell Biology. In addition to a $50,000 prize, Dr. Mai will be given office and lab space for six months at the Canadian Technology Accelerator in San Francisco.



Congratulations to Dr Spencer Gibson and Dr Etienne Leygue, who were each awarded over $375,000 in operating grants from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Prairie NWT Chapter!




Photo by Adrian Alleyne
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CIHR and the University of Manitoba officially announced the recipients of the Epigenetics Team grant, with Dr Jim Davie ranked second on the country for his proposal to study the epigenetics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Dr Davie, along with team members Dr Geoff Hicks, Dr Mojgan Rastegar, Dr Marc Del Bigio, Dr Abraham Fainsod, and Dr Brenda Elias were awarded $1.37m over the next five years to study conserved changes to the methylome in animal and human tissues.

Dr Davie was interviewed about the project by CTV News and the Winnipeg Free Press.

June 2013



Photo by Jennifer Cabral

Congratulations to Nikki Ryan, the winner of the inaugural MICB Merit Award. Nikki was nominated by a number of MICB employees for her hard work and dedication to managing grants and providing assistance with University policies.

The winners of the 2013 University of Manitoba Major Awards in Oncology were announced at the 26th Annual Canadian Student Health Research Forum on June 6th. Congratulations to Brent Guppy, winner of the Don Mazankowski award, Ju-Yoon Yoon - the Caroline Cope Award and Alexandra Kuzyk - the Hain Award. These three awards recognize excellence in oncology research by graduate students of the University of Manitoba. Congratulations to all three MICB trainees!








The Manitoba Health Research Council 2013-2014 Awards were announced on June 17th. Dr Kirk McManus and Dr Mark Nachtigal both received operating grants and Dr Sachin Katyal received an establishment grant.

Congratulations also to Iris Gehrke, Pratima Basak, and Sumanta Chaterjee who are recipients of a co-ordinated Post-Doctoral fellowships from Manitoba Health Research Council and CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Their fellowships will be supported for up to 2 years.
Congratulations also to Rebecca Dielschneider and Amy Nadeau who received co-ordinated studentships.
For more information, please click here .




Congratulations to Dr Versha Banerji and Dr Kirk McManus, recipients of CancerCare Manitoba Foundation operating grants for 2013-2015.

Dr Banerji's grant is entitled "Targeting nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)"

Dr McManus's grant is entitled "Evaluating CCS as a Novel Therapeutic Target in Colorectal Cancer"




Congratulations to Dr Christine Bruce who was just awarded a CBCF-Prairies Fellowship! There were only 3 fellowships awarded for the Prairie/NWT region and Christine is the only Manitoban recipient!
Christine is working in Dr Murphy's lab investigating recruitment of S6K1 and mTOR to estrogen response elements in ER+ breast cancer cells.
Congratulations also to Dr Sabine Mai, who was awarded an operating grant from the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to classify the recurrence of ependymomas in children based on the tumour's 3D telomere profile. For more information, please click here

May 2013

We'd like to welcome all of our undergraduate and BSc Med students to MICB for the summer! We are always excited to have familiar faces come back and welcome new students. For a complete list of students and their projects please click here.


For more photos, please click on the slideshow. CancerCare Manitoba's 15th annual Research Days for Trainees was a tremendous success! Congratulations to all of the winners.
Rebecca Dielschneider - 1st place Basic Science Oral
Sabrine Lafarge - 2nd place Basic Science Oral
Sajesh Babu - 3rd place Basic Science Oral
Pratima Basak - 1st place Basic Science Poster
Laura Thompson - 2nd place Basic Science Poster
Amy Cisyk - 3rd place Basic Science Poster


Congratulations to Michael Xu, a grade 11 student in Dr Sabine Mai's lab, gold medal winner at the 2013 Manitoba Student Science Symposium and best Individual Health Sciences Project at the Senior Level. Michael represented Manitoba at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Lethbridge, Alberta where he won a gold medal and an Excellence Award for top Senior Project!
For more information about the Canada-Wide Science Fair, please click here

April 2013



Photograph provided by the Winnipeg Free Press
Congratulations to Dr Sabine Mai, recipient of the 2013 Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad grant to support her research on characterizing circulating tumour cells in intermediate risk prostate cancer patients. The Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad is a local prostate cancer awareness and fundraising organization that has raised over $370,000 for research and patient services.



Photo provided by Sanofi

Congratulations to Daniel Huang a Grade 11 student from St. John's Ravenscourt School who trained in Dr Gibson's lab and discovered a potential new tactic to induce autophagy in brain cancer. Danny placed 5th at the national Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) in Ottawa.







Congratulations to Dr Spencer Gibson, recipient of a 2013 NSERC grant to support his research in BNIP3 in cell survival!

March 2013


Photo provided by Robert Brown Congratulations to Daniel Huang, a grade 11 student at St Johns-Ravenscourt high school and trainee in the Gibson lab, for placing 2nd in the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge. Danny will represent Manitoba at the Nationals in Ottawa on April 8-9th. His project looked at inducing apoptosis and autophagy in glioblastomas. Please click here to go to the article.
Click here to go to the WRHA website.
Clinician-scientist Dr Ryan Zarchyanski was featured in this month's WRHA Wave magazine for his recent meta-analysis which investigated the safety and efficacy hydroxyethyl starch, a blood volume expander frequently used in the intensive care. Dr Zarychanski's research was published in JAMA and has shown that this blood product actually increases the risk of patient death. Please click here to download a pdf of this WAVE magazine.

February 2013



Photo provided by LSAM


Congratulations to Alexandra Kuzyk, recipient of a 2013 winner of the Life Sciences Association of Manitoba "Most Promising Life Sciences Student" award for 2013. This award recognizes a Manitoba student who has demonstrated potential to pursue a career in life sciences. The selection was based on aptitude, academic success and involvement in the Manitoba life sciences community.

Alexandra was also recently awarded a Nancie J. Mauro Scholarship in Oncology Research, Sheu L. Lee Scholarship in Oncology Research, and E.I. Benjaminson Memorial Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE Scholarship. These scholarships recognize an outstanding graduate student conducting oncology research that shows the greatest promise as a researcher.





Congratulations to Dr Spencer Gibson, recipient of a 2013 Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Innovation Grant.

January 2013





Congratulations to Dr Kirk McManus, recipient of a 2013 Colon Cancer Canada operating grant

November 2012

Congratulations to Ju-Yoon Yoon, this year's recipient of the Nancie Mauro Scholarship in Oncology Research from the University of Manitoba. The impact of the research of Dr Lyonel Israels to health research in Manitoba, as well as the next generation of excellence in health sciences with Dr Davie and Dr Hicks, was profiled in this month's WRHA Wave magazine.

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Liz Henson and Eilean McKenzie-Matwiy established a new collaboration with the International Space Station and Argyle School. With expert help from Dr. Dan Gietz (UofM BMG) and direction from Ms Leslie Fuerst and her grade five students Ryan, Avery and Ethan, they came up with an experiment where samples of yeast will be sent to the International Space Station on April 5, 2013. One yeast sample will be suspended in saline and another sample in green tea made in saline. Since the space station is exposed to higher levels of cosmic radiation than on Earth, the grade five students will measure whether yeast undergo DNA damage and whether this DNA damage is protected by antioxidants in green tea by scavenging free radicals. This project will teach the students about preventing cancers. There were 1,254 entries from across North America and Argyle's is the only Canadian entry that won.The commander of the space station will be Chris Hadfield, the first time a Canadian takes the helm of the ISS. Canadian yeast in space for cancer research is truly remarkable. We are proud of the students and to be part of this project. Congratulations!



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MICB and the Manitoba Tumour Bank were pleased to welcome Premier Greg Selinger and Health Minister Theresa Oswald to discuss the important role bio-banking has in cancer research. Dr Sadi highlighted some of the success stories from the Tumour Bank including Dr Murphy's role in the international collaboration to subtype breast cancers, the results of which were published in Nature in May this year, and that MICB is the only Canadian centre participating with Duke University and the Mayo Clinic to investigate the genetics of familial chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Premier Selinger and Minister Oswald were at CancerCare Manitoba to announce the province's 5-year cancer strategy
. MICB is excited to announce that Dr Issai Vanan has joined us as a clinician-scientist and will be starting a research program with us in pediatric neuro-oncology. Dr Vanan received his basic medical training at Bangalore Medical College and his Pediatric Residency at PGIMER, Chandigarh and BUHMC, NY. He completed his Pediatric Heam-Onc and Pediatric Neuro-Oncology fellowships at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York. He was a St Baldrick's Cancer research fellow (2008-2011) and currently the Fr. Peter J Mckenna St Baldrick's research scholar. His main research interests are in translational Neuro-Oncology with special emphasis on Radiation and Chemotherapy sensitivity of Pediatric Brain tumors. In addition to his research, he was an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York. Dr Vanan has publications in numerous pediatric, hematology and oncology journals




Congratulations to Dr Jim Davie, Leigh Murphy, Mike Mowat and Yvonne Myal as this year's recipients of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Prairies NWT Resarch Grants.

For more information about the research supported by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,
please click here

October 2012


Click to go to a slide show Every year, MICB and CancerCare Manitoba put on a special day of Trick or Treating for the kids undergoing chemotherapy in Pediatric Oncology. We celebrate by decorating the labs and handing out goody bags of toys, candy, posters, and stickers to all the kids. This year, MICB went above and beyond with the costumes. Please click here to watch a slide show of our creative and dedicated crew of Hallowe'en goblins. Special thanks to Eileen McMillan-Ward for organizing this activity each year and donations from McDonald's, Old Dutch, and The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Alexandra Kuzyk (in the KFC outfit) and Eileen McMillan-Ward (a platelet) won 1st and 2nd prize respectively for their costumes in the CancerCare Manitoba Costume Competition.
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The Manitoba chapter of Motorcycle Ride for Dad, along with their presenting sponsor Manitoba Lotteries, have made a $50,000 grant towards Dr. Sabine Mai's prostate cancer research program at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology (MICB). The funds were raised by over 800 Manitoba motorcycle enthusiasts during their 4th annual ride in May 2012 and will be used to support Dr. Mai's collaborative work with Dr. Jeff Saranchuk and Dr. Darrel Drachenberg from the Manitoba Prostate Centre. Dr. Mai is the director of the Genomic Centre for Cancer Research and Diagnosis which is housed within MICB.

"Members in the Manitoba chapter are a dedicated group focused on men's health, in particular fighting prostate cancer through research and awareness," remarked Kirk Van Alstyne, co-chair, Manitoba chapter, Motorcycle Ride for Dad. "To achieve this we raise funds and turn these funds over locally to research against prostate cancer."

"Dr. Mai's microscope is leading-edge technology that will allow for earlier detection of prostate cancer which has the potential to give clinicians the information they need to tailor a patient's treatment to their individual disease," remarked Dr. Spencer Gibson, Director, MICB. "In an era of personalized medicine, treatment planning and long term outcomes will be improved by better understanding the nature of this cancer. My sincere appreciation and thanks to the Manitoba Chapter of Motorcycle Ride for Dad for supporting our work."

September 2012





New investigators, Drs Versha Banerji, Kirk McManus and Shantanu Banerji were profiled in CancerCare Manitoba Foundation's annual report.

Dr Versha Banerji's lab is investigating the differences in energy use between CLL cells and normal cells as a target for eliminating CLL cells from patients.

Dr Kirk McManus's lab is identifying and characterizing changes in chromosomes in colorectal cancers as new targets for novel drugs.

Dr Shantanu Banerji is developing a DNA sequencing facility at MICB to improve diagnosis and therapy for aggressive cancers, like lung and triple negative breast cancer.

Please click here to read the report.



Congratulations to Dr Mowat, one of this year's recipients of the University of Alberta Alumni Honour Award. This award recognizes the significant contributions made over a number of years by University of Alberta alumni in their local communities and beyond.

Michael R. A. Mowat, '79 PhD, is a cancer researcher whose work focuses on tumour suppression genes. Over the last 30 years, Michael is a senior scientist and professor at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology and has published in many high-impact scientific journals, including his seminal paper in the journal
Nature in 1985 that clarified the true role of the gene p53. He showed it to be a tumour suppressor, not a tumour-causing gene, and p53 is today the most studied gene in human disease. In 1992, the U.S. National Cancer Institute invited Michael to serve on its committee for research excellence in lung cancer. He is also recognized for his teaching, mentoring and relentless dedication to community service.

August 2012




Dr Sara Israels was recenly profiled in CancerCare Manitoba Foundation's Community Check Up for her work in pediatric cancers and clinical trials. To read more about her work, please
click here.



Congratulations to Dr Mowat, one of this year's recipients of the University of Alberta Alumni Honour Award. This award recognizes the significant contributions made over a number of years by University of Alberta alumni in their local communities and beyond.

Michael R. A. Mowat, '79 PhD, is a cancer researcher whose work focuses on tumour suppression genes. Over the last 30 years, Michael is a senior scientist and professor at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology and has published in many high-impact scientific journals, including his seminal paper in the journal
Nature in 1985 that clarified the true role of the gene p53. He showed it to be a tumour suppressor, not a tumour-causing gene, and p53 is today the most studied gene in human disease. In 1992, the U.S. National Cancer Institute invited Michael to serve on its committee for research excellence in lung cancer. He is also recognized for his teaching, mentoring and relentless dedication to community service.

July 2012




We are pleased to announce Dr Spencer Gibson's appointment as Director, Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology (MICB).
Dr. Gibson joined MICB in 1999 as a Senior Scientist after graduating from the University of Toronto with his PhD. and completing his post-doctoral fellowship at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. Dr. Gibson was also appointed to the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics in 1999 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2003 and Full Professor in 2008. He was cross-appointed to the Immunology Department in 2006. Over the past 12 years as an independent research scientist, he has successfully brought researchers from diverse fields (clinical medicine, epidemiology and basic sciences) together to create a nationally and internationally recognized translational research program at MICB. He is active in teaching and training many researchers and technologists who have gone on to successful careers. He has served as interim Provincial Director of Research at CancerCare Manitoba, a role in which he will continue in until September 1, 2012.
Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Spencer to this very important role.

June 2012




A top medical oncology researcher at CancerCare Manitoba is being credited with a breakthrough in breast cancer gene mutation discovery. The findings of Dr. Shantanu Banerji and a team of researchers from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and the Insituto Nacional de Medicina Genomica (Mexico), were published on June 21, 2012, in Nature, the world's most preeminent science Journal. Dr. Banerji's study discovered several new mutations in breast cancer samples. One of the more significant findings is the mutation of two normal genes that first broke apart, then rejoined to create a breast cancer fusion gene. This gene fusion was found in Triple Negative breast cancer patients, one of the more aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer. Triple-Negative breast cancer means the cells tested negative for hormone receptors and HER2 receptors, so the tumour is unresponsive to commonly used anti-hormone or protein based cancer treatments. About 10 - 20 percent of breast cancers cases are Triple Negative. "As a result of our findings, we now have a new target in select patients" this fusion gene," said Dr. Banerji. "With further study, specialized therapies can be developed to turn this gene off. This will eventually allow physicians to select targeted, less toxic treatments, based on a patient's genetic profile." Dr. Banerji conducted the study at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while furthering his study in cancer genomics, the study of critical genes in cancer cells. Both he and his wife, Dr. Versha Banerji, a hematologist who trained at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, were sponsored by CancerCare Manitoba and the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation for the majority of their four year research fellowships at Harvard, and their return to Manitoba. Dr Banerji's research was made possible through the support of CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
The article can be downloaded here.

MICB's Senior Scientists, trainees, and their research have been highlighted in the Spring issue of WRHA's Wave magazine. Dr Geoff Hicks and Dr Afshin Raouf discuss the new research that they will be undertaking at the University of Manitoba's Regenerative Medicine Program. The lab is the first of it's kind in Western Canada devoted to studying stem cells to better understand, and hopefully cure, diseases like breast cancer, Rett Syndrome and spinal cord injuries. Also in this issue is a special report Quest for the Cure, which profiles Dr Spencer Gibson, Dr Shannon Healy, Dr Sadrine Lafarge, Dilshad Khan and Heather Champion for their research into unlocking cancer's secrets, finding ways to kill cancer and explaining why cancer affects one person but not another. Their research was made possible through the support of CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and the Manitoba Health Research Council.
The entire issue can be downloaded here.

May 2012

Dr. Sabine Mai and her Post Doctoral Fellow Dr Macoura Gadji will have their innovative research on MDS and AML published in Clinical Cancer Research. This further emphasizes that high quality and impact of our research. Dr. Leigh Murphy is an author on recent Nature paper characterizing breast tumours. This was part of an international effort to sequence breast tumours to potentially develop personalize medicine. This article was featured in the Globe & Mail and Dr. Murphy was interviewed for CBC International. Congratulations to Dr Kirk McManus on being awarded an NSERC Discovery grant for his project "Identifying the Molecular Determinants of Chromosome Stability in Humans."

Congratulations to Dr Jim Davie and Dr Sabine Mai on receiving support from the University of Manitoba to operate Basic Science Core Platforms that support the biomedical research community of Manitoba. 8 platforms are being supported with funds from Manitoba Health Research Council and the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr Davie's Next Generation Sequencing Core Platform allow us to do genetic and epigenetic research. Our Next Generation Sequencing platform consists of three different sequencers which use different technologies and have different capacities. Our largest instrument is the Life Technologies SOLiD5500xl which can sequence 2 genomes per week. Our two small instruments are the Ion Torrent PGM and the Illumina MiSeq which can be used to sequence small genomes, such as bacterial genomes or identify mutations within genomes of diseased cells. These techniques are critical to basic, translational and clinical research as well as the advent of personalized medicine.
Dr Mai's Core Platform for Molecular Imaging, which is part of the GCCRD is a regional/national facility for all cutting edge imaging applications. The goals of the GCCRD are basic and translational research using molecular imaging approaches, as well as the education of students and highly qualified personnel in genomic instability, cancer genetics and all aspects of imaging.

April 2012

Kuzyk CancerCare Manitoba Research Day was held on May 2nd and MICB did quite well with Alexandra Kuzyk (graduate student supervised by Dr. Mai) receiving 1st place for Basic Science Oral Presentation. Sandrine Lafarge (PDF supervised by Dr. Gibson) received 2nd place for Basic Science Oral Presentation and the Rick Heister award for best post-doctoral presentation. Rebecca Dielschneider (graduate student supervised by Dr. Gibson) received Best Poster for Basic Science presentation by a graduate student and the Arnold Portigal award. Other winners include Brent Guppy, Yuequin Zhou, Sajesh Babu, Amy Cisyk, Ju-Yoon Yoon, and Sumanta Chatterjee. Photos from Research Days can be found on the MICB Facebook page.

Congratulations to Dr Sabine Mai on being award regional partnership funding from CIHR for "The Impact of 3D Nuclear Chromosome and Gene Postitions in Cancer" and Dr Jim Davie for his CIHR grant to develop techniques in epigenetics. Congratulations to Brent Guppy from Dr McManus' lab for receiving the Dieter Hettig Scholarship award! Two students in Dr. Mai's lab received scholarships: Alexandra Kuzyk received both the Sheu L. Lee Family Scholarship in Oncology Research and Nance J Mauro (nee Tooley) Graduate Studentship in Oncology Research, and Eric Dupas received an undergraduate studentship from NSERC. Congratulations!

March 2012

FASD Dr. Hicks and Dr Fainsod hosted a workshop on March 27th entitled "Identifying Children at Risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder". The workshop looked at the clinical diagnosis and genetic basis of FASD, as well as brought in members of the community to discuss the socioeconomic impact, prevention strategies, and programs to care for individuals and families coping with an FASD diagnosis.

October 2011

Halloween MICB staff got into the spirit of Hallowe'en by dressing up and handing out goody bags of candy to the brave kids in Pediatric Oncology. Dr. Leigh Murphy's research and the Manitoba Tumour Bank are featured in the latest issue of Wave Magazine. Dr. Shantanu and Versha Banerji are welcomed back to Winnipeg and MICB in the latest issue of Community Check Up magazine.

Dr. Spencer Gibson is featured in Wave Magazine as one of seven important Manitoba researchers tackling the toughest questions in medicine.


RIOH gratefully acknowledges the generous support of



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