Keynote Speakers

Frances Balkwill - Queen Mary University of London

Frances Balkwill is Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, where she leads the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation. She is especially interested in translating knowledge of cancer biology into new biological treatments for cancer and has published 250+ scientific papers and reviews during her career. Much of her work focuses on the tumour microenvironment of ovarian cancer. In 2006, she was made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and has served on its

Council. Fran is a frequent plenary and keynote speaker at international meetings.

Fran is also actively involved in communication of science to non-specialist audiences, especially young people. Fran is Director of the Centre of the Cell, a biomedical science centre for children, educational website and outreach project in East London. There have been more than 190,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities since opening in September 2009. Fran's science communication work has been recognised by the award of the 2004 EMBO prize for communication in the Life Sciences and the 2005 Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize. In 2017, she was awarded the Cancer Research UK Inspiring Leadership in Research Engagement Prize.
Together with illustrator Mic Rolph, Fran has also produced thirteen science books for children on cell and molecular biology with titles such as Enjoy Your Cells, The Egg and Sperm Raceand You, Me and HIV. These books have been translated into at least twelve foreign languages with over half a million copies sold worldwide.

From 2009-2019 Fran was a non-parliamentary board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, POST, and currently serves on CRUK and ERC grant committees. She is a Trustee of the charity Bloodwise. Fran was awarded an OBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. In 2015 Fran was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa by the University of Bristol where she studied as an undergraduate.

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Ernst Lengyel - Center for Integrative Science, Chicago

Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic malignancies, specifically, ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers. His primary clinical focus is on the treatment of ovarian cancer, including advanced surgical techniques designed to improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Lengyel performed the University of Chicago's first laparoscopic pelvic and para-aortic lymph node dissection for gynecologic cancer. He also performs radical vaginal trachelectomy (RVT) to preserve fertility in young patients who have cervical cancer.

Dr. Lengyel has been recognized by Chicago magazine as one of the city's "Top Doctors" for ovarian and cervical cancer care. He is also skilled in complex pelvic surgeries for benign gynecologic conditions, such as endometriosis and fistula repairs.

Dr. Lengyel's research laboratory in the Center for Integrative Science focuses on the investigation of new therapies for the treatment of ovarian cancer. His research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition to clinical and research activities, Dr. Lengyel mentors residents and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology.

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Kunle Odunsi - University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, is the Director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC), Dean for Oncology in the Biological Sciences Division, and the Abbvie Foundation Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago. His research in tumor immunology and immunotherapy focuses on mechanisms of immune recognition in human ovarian cancer and the pre-clinical and clinical development of tumor antigen-targeted therapies. Currently he is Co-Principal Investigator on the Roswell Park – University of Chicago Specialized Program

of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Ovarian Cancer.

As the Director of UCCCC, Dr. Odunsi oversees all programmatic aspects of cancer at the University of Chicago including the three primary missions of research, patient care, and education. He sets the strategic direction of UCCCC, which emphasizes basic, translational, and clinical research efforts; collaborative cancer discovery and care; outreach to and engagement of the catchment area; and expansion of development opportunities for early career and promising cancer researchers. Dr. Odunsi also continues to treat patients and mentor physicians in the clinic.

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Celeste Leigh Pearce, University of Michigan

Dr. Pearce earned her PhD at the University of Southern California and had extensive training in genetics at what is now the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She collaborates with investigators from all over the world and is a founding member of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium

and the Multidisciplinary Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Group. Consortia broaden the impact we can all have on ovarian cancer and she is proud to be a part of these multidisciplinary efforts!
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Yvette Drew - University of British Columbia

Dr Drew has a joint faculty appointment at the rank of Associate Professor with OBGYN and the Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology at UBC. This position was as a result of the faculty renewal program run by the Faculty of Medicine. Dr Yvette Drew previously worked as Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Medical Oncology at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) and the Clinical and Translational Research Institute, Newcastle University since 2014. She was regional
gynae medical oncology trials lead, deputy lead for the Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicines centre (phase 1 unit) and co-lead of the gynae-onc translational team. Dr Drew undertook specialist medical oncology training at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow and the NCCC. During this time she was awarded a CRUK-funded PhD fellowship investigating the role of PARP inhibitors in Homologous Recombination deficient ovarian cancer. During her PhD she won a Merit award for her research from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and was awarded the Medical Sciences Doctoral Prize (Newcastle university, 2013). She has played a key role in both the pre-clinical and clinical development of the PARP inhibitor rucaparib in ovarian cancer. In the UK she has also led on trials as national CI from first-in-human phase 1 to later phase 3 clinical trials and been active as a member of both the NCRI Ovarian and Endometrial clinical studies sub-groups. Research interests include the targeting DNA repair pathways as treatment for gynaecological cancers and PARP inhibitor resistance.
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Amit Oza -Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Dr. Oza is a medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM), Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He's Head, Division of Medical Oncology & Hematology and Director of Clinical Research at PM, as well as co-Director of the Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program. He serves as Chair of the NCI Investigational Drug Steering Committee (from June 2014) and co-chair (from June 2016) of NCI Gynecologic Cancer
Steering Committee. He's on the Executive Board of the international Gynecologic Cancer InterGroup and Chair (commencing October 2020). He's also co-founder and Director of the Fields Institute Centre for Mathematical Modeling.
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Hans Nijman - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands

Hans Nijman has made key contributions to the implementation of immunological concepts into clinical trials and clinical practice. From a basic science point of few, PI Nijman was the first to identify HLA-restricted antigenic peptides through innovative peptide predication algorithms that now form the basis for almost all cancer vaccines and T cell products entering the clinic (Eur. J. Immunol. 1993). He identified consensus pathways that underlie class II antigen presentation in dendritic cells and B cells (J. Exp. Med. 1995) and, in a hallmark study, was the first to demonstrate that B cells release functional antigen-presenting exosomes into the surrounding extracellular space

(J. Exp. Med. 1996). PI Nijman has also been a driving force in the development and clinical implementation of vaccines that treat or prevent cancer. In seminal work, he demonstrated that the essential cancer suppressor gene p53 was a tumor-specific antigen recognized by the immune system (J. Exp. Med 1997). He spearheaded an effort to translate this finding from bench to bedside for treatment of patients with ovarian cancer. He performed several innovative clinical trials using long peptide-based therapeutic vaccination against p53 alone, or in combination with immune-modulating agents (Int. J. Cancer 2009 and Clin. Can. Res. 2009). PI Nijman further pioneered the development of a Semlike Forest Virus-based cancer vaccine for treatment of patients with cervical cancer and/or premalignant lesions (e.g. Vaccine. 2010 and Int. J. Cancer 2014). He is co-founder of the biotech company Vicinivax that has just concluded a Phase I trial (EudraCT 2015-004979-74) of this vaccine with promising results. Prof. Nijman was also frontrunner during the clinical implementation of the preventive HPV vaccine in the Netherlands and remains actively involved in the long-term follow-up of this population. At present, Prof. Nijman runs several immunotherapy trials in patients with gynecological malignancies, including HPV vaccines (Clin. Can. Res. 2016 and EudraCT 2015-004979-74) and an innovative lipoplex vaccine for treating patients with ovarian cancer (Nat. Med. 2016). Finally, Prof. Nijman oversees a multidisciplinary group of health care providers, insurance organizations, IT specialists and liaises directly with the ministry of health to ensure optimal and equal cancer care is delivered for patients throughout the Netherlands. This €10 million national initiative is already delivering important changes to improving quality of life for cancer patients and is expected to become even more relevant over the coming years with the clinical advent of targeted (immune)therapies..
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Invited Speakers

Carolina Ilkow - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Carolina Ilkow, PhD. is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she obtained her combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Science. She then decided to move to Edmonton, Canada to continue her graduate studies at the University of Alberta, where she obtained her PhD in cell biology, after which she joined Dr. John Bell’s lab as a post-doctoral fellow. Carolina’s work in the Bell lab aimed at developing novel and tailored virotherapies to fight Pancreatic cancer. In July 2016, Carolina was recruited as

a Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute-Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, and she is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. Her research is focused on the development of innovative biotherapeutics for cancer treatment. Carolina is also involved in training the next generation of scientists. She is a member of the High Qualified personnel training committee for BioCanRx, a Canadian network that develops cancer biotherapeutics.
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Joanne Kotsopoulos - Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto

Dr. Joanne Kotsopoulos is a Scientist with the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at the Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College Hospital and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD from the University of Toronto in 2007 and subsequently conducted her post-doctoral research training at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Dr. Kotsopoulos directs a wide-range of research initiatives to further our understanding of BRCA-associated breast and ovarian cancer, with the goal of identifying viable strategies that confer substantial risk reduction and improve outcomes. Her studies have demonstrated an important role of hormonal, reproductive and modifiable exposures on BRCA-associated cancer development. This critical work has provided women and healthcare providers with evidence-based management options while contributing to our understanding of the pathogenesis of hereditary cancer.

Additional interests are aimed at identifying prognostic factors for ovarian cancer, a highly fatal disease, and furthering our understanding of how variation in treatment may impact outcomes.

She is also actively involved in the teaching and mentoring of students at the University of Toronto across various stages of their academic careers.

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Anita Koushik - Université de Montréal

Anita Koushik is a Research Scientist at the Centre de recherche du CHUM and an Associate Professor in the Département de médecine sociale et preventive at the Université de Montréal and. She received a BSc in Pharmacology from the University of Alberta, an MSc in Community Health & Epidemiology from Queen’s University, and a PhD in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from McGill University. She then conducted postdoctoral training in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Her research program aims to increase our understanding of the etiology of ovarian cancer in order to improve primary prevention and risk assessment efforts. She also conducts research on the identification of modifiable factors that can improve prognosis and quality of life of ovarian cancer survivors. Her research program is currently funded by grants from the Cancer Research Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
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Pamela Ohashi- Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto

Dr. Ohashi received her Ph.D from the University of Toronto with Dr. Tak Mak, and did her post-doctoral training at the University of Zurich with the Nobel Laureate Dr. Zinkernagel, and Dr. Hans Hengartner.  She is a Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer

Centre, and Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto. She is also the Director of the Tumor Immunotherapy Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Her interests include understanding CD8+ T cell biology and mechanisms that regulate anti-tumor immunity.
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Jim Petrik - University of Guelph

Dr. Jim Petrik is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph. Jim is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University and Experimental Oncology at Western. Jim's research program focuses on developing novel therapeutic approaches for advanced stage ovarian cancer. His research involves mechanisms to normalize dysfunctional tumor vasculature to improve the uptake and efficacy of various therapies. Jim is also interested in targeting

the mevalonate signaling pathway that appears to be upregulated in metastatic ovarian cancer cells. Jim has published more than 75 articles on his work on ovarian cancer and his research program is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Cancer Research Society, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
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Ben Tsang - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Professor Ben Tsang joined the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) in 1980 as the Director, Reproductive Biology Unit and subsequently served as the Associate Chair (Research) of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Director of Research of the Ottawa Civic Hospital. He is currently Full Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Cellular & Molecular Medicine and Senior Scientist in the Chronic Disease Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI).

Professor Tsang is internationally recognized for his translational research program in cell fate regulation in women’s reproductive health, especially in the area of anovulatory infertility and chemoresistant ovarian cancer. His research program has been supported continuously by national competitive grants from MRC/CIHR during the past 37 years. He has contributed over 215 full-length original publications and 21 reviews/book chapters, and holds 4 patents. The success of Dr. Tsang’s research is reflected in the numerous honours and awards he received, including the CFAS Award of Excellence in Reproductive Medicine, the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovations Research Award, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation Angel Award for cancer research excellence, the J David Grimes Research Career Achievement Award, and the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine Award of Excellence. He was appointed the World Class University Professor of Biomodulation at Seoul National University.

Dr. Tsang is the Co-editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Ovarian Research and Associate Editor of Molecular Carcinogenesis and Journal of Cancer Prevention. He has served on the Editorial Board of Endocrinology, Biology of Reproduction, Reproduction, Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine and Adaptive Medicine, and on various CIHR grant committees. He holds honorary professorships at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jinan University, Nanjing Medical University and Taipei Medical University.

Professor Tsang served as co-chairs of the China-Canada Bilateral Program on Reproductive Health and the Canada-Japan Bilateral Program on Women’s Health Research in the promotion of international research partnerships and academic exchanges. He served as President of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR). He is the Chair of the SSR Golden Anniversary Fundraising Campaign.

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Jean-Simon Diallo - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo obtained his Master’s degree in Biochemistry at McGill University in 2003 and his Ph.D in molecular biology at the Université de Montréal in 2008. He is a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa in the department of Biochemistry Microbiology and immunology. Dr. Diallo’s academic research focuses on using oncolytic viruses to treat cancer and small
molecules / antibodies that enhance oncolytic virus activity. Dr. Diallo has published over 65 manuscripts and is co-inventor on 10 licensed patents. He co-founded Virica Biotech in 2018 and, most recently, Virano Therapeutics in 2021.
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Julian Lum - BC Cancer Research, Victoria

Dr. Lum is a Senior Scientist at BC Cancer and Director of the Metabolomics Consortium of BC. His research program is focused on understanding how cellular metabolism regulates immune responses to ovarian cancer. He is studying how autophagy can be harnessed to enhance T CAR-T effectiveness. Using metabolomics approaches
Dr. Lum’s team will identify metabolites and metabolic pathways that are can be used as novel targets for cell-based immunotherapy.
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Claude Perreault - Université de Montréal

Trained as a hematologist and an immunogeneticist, Claude Perreault is a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal and a Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer. His research focuses mainly on two themes: i) the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines and ii) rejuvenating the immune system in aging individuals. His list of scientific publications and awards can be found at

Alicia Tone - Ovarian Cancer Canada

Alicia joined the Ovarian Cancer Canada team as Scientific Advisor in May 2019, and became OvCAN Project Manager the following November. Her deep well of experience in the ovarian cancer field includes a Ph. D. in ovarian cancer biology from the University of Toronto, postdoctoral studies in ovarian cancer genomics at B.C. Cancer Agency, and more than seven years as Scientific Associate in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.