On June 3rd to June 4th, the Gynecologic Cancer Initiative hosted our first Trainee Research Day to celebrate trainees who are conducting important gynecologic cancer research throughout British Columbia. The event featured various trainee presenters, keynote speakers, and panelists.  

Day 1 Recap 

To  kick off the event, Dr. Susan Porter from UBC Grad School delivered her keynote speech on Navigating a Turbulent World, highlighting key lessons learned from the COVID era while society transitions to a “post-normal age.” She talked about the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of “thinking in systems” when it comes to think about complex issues.  

The event also included a Trainee Experience Panel and we were joined by Madison Lackie, Dr. Amy Jamieson, and Dr. Derek Wong. Madison, who recently completed her MSc in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences at UBC, shared about her experience with imposter syndrome and how she realized that even if she were an expert, she still wouldn’t know everything, so there shouldn’t be pressure to know it all. Panelists also shared their tips for work-life balance and managing your thesis alongside other side projects.  

The day primarily revolved around the trainee oral presentations on research happening in prevention, survivorship, and quality of life for gynecological cancers. Dr. Anna Gottschlich, a postdoctoral fellow in the Ogilvie lab, was awarded the best Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Presentation for her work on Assessing 10-year safety of a single negative HPV test for cervical cancer screening: Evidence from FOCAL-DECADE cohort. Helena Abreu do Valle, an MSc student in the Hanley lab, was awarded the best Gynecologic Cancer Survivorship Presentation for her work on the Risk of cardiovascular disease women with BRCA mutations after risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: a population-based study. 

Day 2 Recap 

Dr. Federica Di Palma joined the event on day two to share her keynote speech on Understanding the processes that influence the diversity of life. During her talk she shared both about her academic journey and the excitement of genomic research. The second day also featured a career panel with Dr. Glenys Webster, Dr. Ali Bashshati, and Dr. Mina Park. All three panelists shared incredible insights on their career journeys post-graduate. As someone who made a sudden career change, Dr. Webster reiterated that even if change may be hard and scary, taking that leap of faith and staying true to who you are can lead to incredible experiences. Also, Dr. Bashshati and Dr. Park emphasized the importance of intentional network building as the key to your career after graduate school.  

On day 2, the trainee oral presentations centered around the theme of diagnostics and treatment of gynecologic cancers. The best Diagnostics/Treatment Presentation awards went to Joyce Zhang and Marisa Kilgour. Joyce is a MD/PhD candidate at the Huntsman Lab, whose research focuses on Modelling low-grade serous ovarian cancers with human fallopian tube organoids and single cell sequencing. Marisa is a PhD candidate in the Lum Lab doing her research on 1-Methylnicotinamide is an immune regulatory metabolite in human ovarian cancer.  

To close off the event, two more awards were distributed in honor of Barbara Berthon, who dedicated her life to research and fought a long battle with ovarian cancer. The Barbara Berthon Ovarian Cancer Presentation Prize is awarded annually to the top ovarian cancer presentation by a trainee at the annual trainee research day and was awarded to Diana Canals for her presentation entitled, “Novel tumour-restricted antibody against podocalyxin shows therapeutic potential for ovarian cancer”. Additionally, we also awarded the Barbara Berthon Ovarian Cancer Publication Prize to a trainee whose published work has made a significant discovery in advancing our understanding of ovarian cancer and/or impact on ovarian cancer control. This prize was awarded to Jennifer Ji for her paper published in Clinical Cancer Research, “Arginine depletion therapy with ADI-PEG20 limits tumor growth in argininosuccinate synthase deficient ovarian cancer, including small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type”.