Group photo from Trainee Research Day 2022

On June 13th and 14th of 2022, the Gynecologic Cancer Initiative hosted our second annual Trainee Research Day to celebrate and highlight the incredible work of gynecologic cancer trainees in British Columbia. With this being our first-time hosting Trainee Research Day as a hybrid event, it was super exciting to see our attendees, presenters, panelists, and keynote speakers online and in person. The in-person component of this year’s event was hosted at the Paetzold Health Education Centre at Vancouver General Hospital with social distancing and safety measures under play.

Day 1 Recap

We kicked off Day 1 of Trainee Research Day with an inspiring keynote presentation from Dr. Ian Graham, a medical sociologist and senior scientist joining us from Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Graham delivered a talk titled, “Knowledge Translation, Your Pathway to Impact.” His talk introduced us to the growing field of knowledge translation – the bridge between scientific discovery and impact. This powerful talk invited us to think about how we can use knowledge translation to better implement and disseminate new findings among individuals inside and outside of academia.

The event also featured an “Engaging Patients as Partners in Research Panel,” in which we were joined by Dr. Lori Brotto (Director of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory), Nicole Keay (GCI Patient Partner and Co-Host of the Gynecologic Cancer Sharing Hub Podcast), and Stephanie Lam (GCI Research Coordinator). Through their unique experiences and backgrounds, our panelists discussed the value of consciously and ethically collaborating with patients. They have graciously shared amazing resources for trainees to develop their patient engagement skills including workshops from the BC SUPPORT Unit and the GCI’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.

(From left to right) Dr. Lori Brotto, Nicole Keay, and Stephanie Lam discussing the mutual value patient engagement may have for the patient and the research community.

Throughout the day, trainees shared their research on survivorship, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gynecologic cancers in the form of rapid-fire and oral presentations. Amirali Darbandari, a Master’s student under the supervision of Dr. Ali Bashashati, delivered an intriguing presentation on his research titled Discovery of a novel endometrial cancer subgroup using artificial intelligence and was awarded one of the two Best Gynecologic Cancer Diagnosis/Treatment Presentation Awards. The Best Gynecologic Cancer Survivorship Presentation was then awarded to Dr. Kimberly Stewert for her engaging talk on Evaluating patient experience with extended post-operative venous thromboembolism prophylaxis after gynecologic oncology surgery: a cross-sectional study. Kimberly is a clinical fellow conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Justin McGinnis. Jeanie Malone, a PhD candidate working in Dr. Pierre Lane’s lab, was also awarded the Best Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Presentation for her talk titled Multimodal Optical Imaging of Ex Vivo Fallopian Tubes.

Day 2 Recap

Day 2 began with more wonderful presentations from trainees discussing their research on the improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancers. Alongside Almirali Darbandari, Céline Laumont won the second award for Best Gynecologic Cancer Diagnosis/Treatment Presentation. Céline is a post-Doctoral fellow in the Nelson lab who presented Deciphering B Cell Responses to Ovarian Cancer.

Before our break, we gathered together to cheer on Bianca Hayes, who is well on her journey to bike across Canada in 15 days in support of ovarian cancer research. Bianca bikes in loving memory of her sister, Dawn, who passed away from stromal ovarian cancer in 2018. You can help support Bianca by cheering her on throughout her journey, which you can track here, or you can donate to her cause. All donations will go to BC Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Canada. 

During our lunch break, we also hosted a trainee career panel titled, “What’s Next?: Navigating Life After Graduate School,” featuring Melissa McConechy, Jennifer Gillis, Candice Taguibao, and Joseph Ssendikaddiwa. It was a wonderful opportunity for the trainees to connect and learn from those who have moved onto careers outside of academia. The panelists shared wonderful advice with trainees including the importance of networking, reflecting on your “whys” to regain confidence, and being kind to yourself during challenging times. 

During the Trainee Carer Panel, Melissa McConechy, Jennifer Gilis, Candice Taguibao, and Joseph Ssendikaddiwa spoke about the benefits of using your personal statement to identify your values.

We were then joined by our second keynote speaker, Dr. Yvette Drew, a clinician-scientist and medical oncologist at BC Cancer. Dr. Drew delivered a powerful keynote presentation on The Evolution of PARP Inhibitors in High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer: From Bench to Bedside and Back Again! PARP inhibitors are cancer drugs that target DNA damage repair pathways and have a long history in ovarian cancer research. Dr. Drew’s presentation beautifully described the history, significance, and ongoing work regarding PARP inhibitors’ biomarkers, inhibitor resistance, and developing combination therapies.

To wrap up the event, we presented two ovarian cancer research awards in honor of Barbara Berthon, who was committed to research and fought a long battle against ovarian cancer. The first award, the Barbara Berthon Ovarian Cancer Publication Prize, was awarded to Helena Abreu do Valle for her publication titled Risk of cardiovascular disease among women carrying BRCA mutations after risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: A population-based study. Helena recently completed her Master’s degree at UBC and continues to work under the supervision of Dr. Gillian Hanley. The second Barbara Berthon award, the Barbara Berthon Ovarian Cancer Presentation Prize, was awarded to Jeffrey Boschman for this presentation titled, Deep Learning-Based Histotype Diagnosis of Ovarian Carcinoma Whole-Slide Pathology Images. Jeffrey is currently a Master’s student working in the Bashashati lab.

GCI Trainee Research Day Award Winners Céline Laumont, Amirali Darbandari, and Jeffrey Boschman with Dr. Gillian Hanley

Thank You

We would like to extend a thank you to all of you who have attended Trainee Research Day 2022 and those who continue to support the work of the GCI’s trainees. It was amazing to see everyone gathered to celebrate the promising future in gynecologic cancer research we have ahead of us. Thank you to our incredible judges, moderators, trainees, patient partners, and attendees. We are also extremely grateful to the leadership and core team at the Gynecologic Cancer Initiative including Dr. Gillian Hanley, Dr. Gavin Stuart, Dr. Michelle Woo, Stephanie Lam, Jocelle Refol, Madison Estrella, and Almira Zhantuyakova for making this event possible.

Thank you all and we hope you can join us for future events!

Stephanie Lam and Dr. Michelle Woo (middle) were presented bouquets as a token of appreciation by Dr. David Huntsman and Dr. Gillian Hanley on behalf of the GCI

More Photos From the Event