Report from the Department Head

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the new website for the Department of Urologic Sciences.

The Department of Urologic Sciences (DUS), part of the UBC Faculty of Medicine, was founded on July 1, 2006. Within the DUS we strive to develop and deliver programmes of excellence in key areas of urology. With its energetic, passionate, and expert clinical faculty, the DUS is a leader in education, clinical care, and research.

The DUS continues to grow with now 28 full-time faculty: 11 Professors, 11 Associate Professors, and 6 Assistant Professors including a UBC Distinguished University Professor, a BC Leadership Chair in Prostate Cancer Research (awarded to Dr. Martin Gleave), several endowed chairs including Dr. Larry Goldenberg to the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Urologic Sciences at VGH and Dr. Peter Black has recently been named the Khosrowshahi Chair in Bladder Cancer Research. We also have 16 PhD research scientists. The DUS is also closely integrated with the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC), a UBC and VGH Centre of Excellence and since 2008, a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). The DUS supports strong clinical and research leadership in its sections of oncology, pediatrics, functional, stone, transplantation, and Men’s Health.

Our educational programs are strong and comprehensive. Our 15 residents in the UBC urology program come from medical schools across the country and are, in addition to outstanding clinical training with high volume surgery, exposed to a rich translational research environment within the VPC, offering cross-training in genomics, computer science, informatics, proteomics, pathology, tumour biology, oncology, pharmaceutical sciences, imaging, clinical trials, and drug development, key for training scientists of the future with multi-skill sets. Over 156 students or fellows have been trained over the past 5 years from around the world.

The past 3 months has seen some terrific achievements in peer-reviewed funding, publications and grants. DUS faculty have been awarded many significant grants, including two Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Innovation to Commercialization (I2C) grants to Dr. Chris Ong (Development of a novel biotherapeutic fusion protein inhibitor for treatment of advanced prostate cancer) and Dr. Caigan Du (Development of a novel organ preservation solution in transplantation). Dr. Alex Wyatt and his team were awarded a Movember Discovery Grant for their project, “Genomic truncation of the Androgen Receptor in poor-prognosis castration-resistant prostate cancer.” while Dr. Amina Zoubeidi was awarded a 2017 PCF Challenge Award entitled “Targeting BRN2 in Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer”.  Finally Dr. Art Cherkasov was awarded a $23M CFI titled Accelerated Drug Discovery Using Clinical Translation (ADDUCT), which will enhance computer-augmented drug design and development for prostate, bladder and renal cancer patients.  Hearty congratulations to all for attracting these highly competitive grants!

Our clinical research continues to drive important publications and shape clinical practice: Dr. Peter Black’s work in bladder cancer genomic signatures developed with GenomeDx will help subtype patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer into those more or less likely to benefit from neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Alex Wyatt’s work in plasma ctDNA assays (published in JAMA Oncology and JNCI) define genomic alterations in liquid biopsies that will feasibly subtype CRPC patients to more precisely guide treatment, already serving a national CCTG umbrella trial.

Dr. Andrew MacNeily has also been elected CUA President for 2018-19. Please join me in congratulating these successes, and join me in welcoming our new trainees, recruits, and faculty. You can read more about our three new residents and our featured postdoctoral fellow further into this newsletter. I hope that you all have a wonderful year.

 

Martin Gleave, MD, FRCSC, FACS
British Columbia Leadership Chair
Distinguished Professor and Head, Department of Urologic Sciences, UBC
Director, Vancouver Prostate Centre