Name: Professor David Stojdl
Position: Principal Investigator
Bio: Dave earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Western Ontario. He obtained his Ph.D from uOttawa in the lab of Dr. John Bell in 2000, followed by four years of postdoctoral research at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre. He obtained his first appointment as a scientist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO RI) in 2004, together with an assistant professorship in the Department of Paediatrics at uOttawa. He is currently a senior scientist at the CHEO RI, and an associate professor in the Departments of Paediatrics and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at uOttawa. He is also an affiliate investigator in the Centre for Innovative Cancer Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dave is a co-founder and director of Turnstone Biologics, a biotechnology company focussed on the rapid clinical development of immune-stimulating virus biotherapies for cancer. He previously co-founded, directed and consulted for Jennerex Biotherapeutics Inc. (sold to SillaJen in March 2014).
Name: Melanie Labelle
Position: Part-Time Technician
Bio: Melanie completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at uOttawa, with a minor in lettre français. She started in the Stojdl lab in April 2009, during the second year of her degree.
Project: After Farmington virus (FMT) was identified by the Stojdl lab as a novel oncolytic agent, Melanie began working to characterise every aspect of this virus. She analyses how the virus behaves once it infects a human cell, including what signalling pathways get activated and what tricks the virus uses to survive and replicate. In her work, she compares and contrasts Farmington virus to other other clinical oncolytic candidates to see what makes this virus so special.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: CAPPAero's multichannel pipette
Name: Kristina Allan
Position: Ph.D student
Bio: Kristina completed her BSc. degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences (with a specialisation in genomics) at the University of Ottawa. She first worked in the Stojdl lab as a co-op student, and enjoyed the work so much that she returned later as a graduate student. A few of her favourite things to do, besides fussing with finicky experiments, are kayaking, playing the piano and kicking back with family and friends.
Project: Kris uses high-throughput robotic screens to discover tumour-specific genes that can help or hinder oncolytic virus activity. This will help to engineer better oncolytic virus immunotherapies. Kris has recently launched a new high-throughput project that systematically probes the genome of vaccinia virus to identify a minimal set of genes needed to build the ultimate oncolytic vaccinia virus. The application of such robotic biotechnology is the first of its kind in Canada.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: KiNEDx Robot
Name: Charles Lefebvre
Position: Head Technician
Bio: Charles trained as a biotechnologist at Algonquin college in Ottawa. Following a period working in other labs at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (for Dr. Alex Mackenzie & Dr. Bob Korneluk) and Aegera Therapeutics Inc., Charles moved to the Stojdl lab in 2006. He attributes his good cloning karma to the mysterious workings of a voodoo doll brought back from New Orleans.
Project: Charles is the lead research technician in the Stojdl lab, and is responsible for several key projects in our oncolytic virus program. Chief among these is using state-of-the-art biochemical and genetic techniques to break oncolytic viruses down into their component parts to understand how these biomolecular machines work at their most basic level. This information is used to engineer safer and more potent therapeutics targeted to an array of paediatric and adult cancers.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: QIAvac vacuum manifold
Name: Dr. Stephanie Swift
Position: Scientist and Science Writer
Bio: Stephanie completed her undergraduate degree in Bioveterinary Science at the University of Liverpool in the UK. After completing her Ph.D at the University of York in the UK, Stephanie worked as a postdoc and a clinical lab manager for 5 years at the McMaster University Immunology Research Centre, before moving to the Stojdl lab as a science writer in 2013. She loves writing about the wonderful world of science, especially on her blog, and drinking nice cups of tea.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: Minifuge
Name: Dr. Justyna Kmiecik
Position: Postdoctoral Researcher
Bio: Justyna completed her Masters degree in Biotechnology at the Wrocaw University of Technology in Poland, and did her Ph.D at the University of Bergen in Norway. She started in the Stojdl lab in June 2015.
Project: Justyna's research project focusses on using Farmington virus as an oncolytic vaccine and immunotherapeutic agent to boost T cell responses against foreign viral and neoepitope antigen targets associated with aggressive brain tumours.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: BD Fortessa Flow Cytometer
Name: Phil Charron
Bio: Phil completed his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science with a minor in Physics, then did a MSc in Bioinformatics, both at the University of Ottawa. He is now enrolled part-time in a BASc in Biomedical Mechanical Engineering. Phil started working in the lab in July 2016. Outside the lab, he likes to work his way out of Escape Rooms, and write code for his Raspberry Pi.
Project: Phil's project aims to harness the power of big data to mine new and powerful tumour targets on a personalised, per-patient basis. He is currently focussed on exploring neoepitope targets within large pools of clinical patient data. Neoepitopes emerge as "foreign" antigenic targets from the tumour mutanome, and can be recognised as pathological targets by T cells. These T cells can be powerfully activated by oncolytic virus vaccines.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: His iMac and associated cloud data storage!
Name: Zachary Jilesen
Position: MSc. student
Bio: Zachary completed his BSc. degree in the Health Science Honours program at McMaster University. He joined the Stojdl lab in 2017 to pursue a research project that fuses his core interests of immunology and oncolytic viruses. When he's not in the lab, Zach enjoys playing sports, cooking delicious meals, and baking delectable desserts.
Project: Zach is researching ways to harness a patient's own immune response to target their tumour by coupling the benefits of individualised vaccines with Farmington virus’s oncolytic activity. This work is designed to enhance the therapeutic effect of oncolytic virus immunotherapies.
Favourite piece of lab equipment: Nanodrop 1000