Brad Nelson, Ph.D.
Scientific Co-Director, Immunotherapy Program,
BC Cancer Research Institute,
Victoria BC, Canada

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Phil Greenberg and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, he became the founding Director of BC Cancer’s Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria.

Dr. Nelson’s lab uses genomic and molecular approaches to study the immune response to cancer. As Scientific Co-director of BC Cancer’s Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on CAR-T cell therapy for lymphoid cancers and novel T cell engineering strategies for gynecological cancers and other malignancies. Dr. Nelson is co-founder of two biotech start-ups: Innovakine Therapeutics, which is using protein and cell engineering approaches to improve the efficacy and safety of cell-based therapies, and Overture Therapeutics, which is using oncolytic viruses to help immune cells recognize and destroy malignant tissue.

Deciphering & Re-Engineering the Immune Response to Cancer

Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are associated with survival in virtually every human cancer, but the mechanisms by which they confer protective immunity remain incompletely understood. Focusing on ovarian cancer, our group applies genomic and molecular pathology approaches to define the mechanisms by which the human immune system responds to the evolving tumor genome over space and time. We find that optimal anti-tumor immunity involves interactions between T cells, antibody-producing B cells and myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment. Our findings suggest new approaches to immunotherapy that overcome the inherent limitations of the T cell response. These insights are being used to design novel T cell engineering strategies that induce multi-modal effector responses against tumors. To enable clinical translation, we have helped create an academic network to develop, manufacture and deliver CAR-T cells and other engineered cell products to cancer patients in Canada.

Event Date: October 31st, 2023