Wes Wilson is a Canadian cancer researcher and science communicator currently based in Australia. His previous research looked at the epigenetic changes in childhood brain tumours, asking the kinds of questions like what kinds of gene expression changes made a low-grade glioma become a high-grade glioma? He then moved on to study the formation of breast cancer and characterized a new mechanism in tumorigenesis of this disease. His current work is in the adult cancer mesothelioma and focuses on developing new treatment approaches to this universally fatal disease by harnessing modern immunotherapy strategies and leveraging novel synergistic therapies. You can hear about some of his immunotherapy work here in his TEDx UWA talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFuRqKQwxKA .
Wes is the founder of the science communication page Mostly Science ( www.fb.com/mostlyscience ) and host of the corresponding Mostly Science Podcast ( https://mostlyscience.com/webcast/ ) where the look to pull the curtain back on science in the headlines and explores the what and why of the world around us. He also serves as the editor of science curation group Science Seeker (@SciSeeker), host of the LifeOmic series TumourTalk, and President of the Science Communication Society @ UWA.
His also has a passion for technology and has been an avid developer and tinkerer since he was a kid. Taking apart computers and devices to learn how they work and teaching himself how to code. This interest has led to many exciting projects including but not limited to creating a mobile app for delivering medical resources to expecting mothers in the Yukon Canada, creating a hardware wearable device for medication non-compliance, working on a machine learning algorithm for diagnosing brain tumours, and more machine learning algorithms for working with large data sets involved in single cell sequencing data.
Adam Marcus, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Marcus’ laboratory (marcuslab.com) studies how cancers invade and metastasize, with the goal of developing treatments that target cancer metastasis. Dr. Marcus’ research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, the Winship Cancer Institute, private foundations, and through philanthropy. Dr. Marcus is a former Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar, has over 75 scientific publications, and has received national and local awards for his research and teaching. He has given numerous seminars on his research to both scientists and the general public. He was a recent TEDx speaker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgntY0dOf_c) and part of the Atlanta Innovative Index and Atlanta 40under40. Dr. Marcus serves as the Director of the Emory Integrated Cellular Imaging Core (ici.emory.edu), which provides cutting-edge imaging technologies to scientific investigators, as well as Director of Graduate Studies for the Cancer Biology PhD program.
Dr. Marcus also leads a science education outreach program, Citizen Science HD (citizensciencehd.com). The goals of this program are to use STEM-based initiatives in K-12 classrooms to stimulate critical thinking, diversity, and enthusiasm for the sciences. This program has visited over 35 schools, 150 classrooms, and 3000 students. In this role, he serves as the Director of the Center for Advancing Health and Diversity through Citizen Science, which is funded through the NIH. Dr. Marcus has received institutional, regional, and national awards for his teaching, outreach, and research. He also is on Twitter and can be found at @notmadscientist
Brittany Lasseigne, PhD, is a Senior Scientist in the lab of Dr. Richard Myers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and a 2016-2017 Prevent Cancer Foundation Fellow. Dr. Lasseigne received a BS in Biological Engineering from the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University and a PhD in Biotechnology Science and Engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. As a graduate student, she studied the role of DNA methylation and copy number variation in cancer, identifying novel diagnostic biomarkers and prognostic signatures associated with kidney cancer. In her current position, Dr. Lasseigne’s research focus is the application of genetics and genomics to complex human diseases. Her recent work includes the identification of gene variants linked to ALS, characterization of gene expression patterns in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and development of non-invasive biomarker assays. Dr. Lasseigne is currently focused on integrating genomic data, functional annotations, and patient information with machine learning across complex diseases to discover novel mechanisms in disease etiology and progression, identify therapeutic targets, and understand genomic changes associated with patient survival. Based upon those analyses, she is building tools to share with the scientific community. She is also passionate about science education and community outreach.
Ever considered why you choose the field that you chose? The very first time I saw rectus abdominis contracting in frog’s ringers attached to lever and a smoked Sherrington drum, I was awestruck. That is when I realized why I chose scientific research as my career. I worked on several research projects in Pharmacology during my Bachelors. It is during that time that I learned what it takes to do research.
After my Bachelors in Pharmacy, I worked towards a Masters in Cell and Molecular Biology. I worked in a lab working on Neurological Effects of HIV-1. Though a lot is established about what HIV-1 does in the peripheral body, we do not have much information about what it does in the brain. The virus can cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) and infect astrocytes, replicate and cause a latent infection. What worsens the condition, is that the Antireterovirals, do not cross the BBB, and hence the virus in brain is not affected. I used several methods in the lab to ascertain the effects of some of the viral proteins in astrocytes.
Currently, I’m working in a research lab at Howard University, in Washington, DC. The lab’s focus is to understand the pathology of Breast cancer. Aside from my research, I’m a Photographer and I love it. I have an almost active Instagram account and a website (which is still in progress, typical researcher, right?). Recently, I started playing Ultimate Frisbee and I absolutely love it. I try to stay active, run, workout, and Science!
Hi, Biotweeps! I am a Senior Scientist at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute. A molecular and developmental biologist by training, I have a mad fascination for the study of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease characterized by the progressive loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Individuals with diabetes overcome this beta cell destruction or dysfunction by daily administration of exogenous insulin – a viable and long-standing therapy. However, the long-term complications associated with diabetes are never truly eliminated. So research efforts have recently moved to the generation of therapies that could fix, not just treat, the beta cell loss.
My lab uses the mouse and zebrafish model systems to study the signals that induce pancreatic progenitor cells to differentiate or insulin-producing beta cells to regenerate. Our work is motivated by the idea that once identified, we may be able to harness these growth, differentiation, or regeneration signals to create novel treatments for type 1 diabetes.
A Canadian by birth and at heart, I completed my BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph and my PhD in Cancer Genetics at the University of Toronto. I then moved south of the border for postdoctoral studies at Columbia University and began merging my interests in developmental biology and human disease by studying cell fate determination in mutant mouse models with dramatic diabetes phenotypes. My research interests eventually brought me to Indianapolis where I was recruited to the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (http://www.indianabiosciences.org ) — a non-profit research institute that brings together academic and industrial science. My lab has been going strong for a year and we’re excited about some pretty cool research that will be coming out soon!
When I’m not in the lab or writing, I absolutely love to travel. Seeing new places and meeting new people can open your mind to such extraordinarily unique perspectives. In fact, I’ve done some of my most creative scientific writing or experimental brainstorming on the plane rides home from somewhere. I’m excited to kick off May for the @biotweeps — I hope to share my love of developmental biology, diabetes research, and what’s new and exciting at IBRI!
Via Twitter you can reach me @tlmastracci or the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute @INBiosciences – keep up to date on exciting discoveries in general science, diabetes research, developmental biology as well as progress in biomedical research, technology and innovation in Indiana.
Hi Biotweeps! I am originally from North Carolina and was an Animal Science major as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. For graduate school, I stayed in NC and received my Ph.D. in cell biology from Duke University. I then moved with my lab across the US to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles during my second year to complete my graduate research on lung stem cell biology. My work was funded by NASA, who wanted to know the risk of cancer in astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation (harmful radiation found in space). To test this, we studied the behavior of lung stem cells in mice after exposure to simulated cosmic radiation and saw how that correlated to cancer development. This really interesting project led to the discovery that an important tumor suppressor gene, Trp53, is not only required for radiation response, but also controls normal lung stem cell division and differentiation, or the process of creating a more specialized cell. Seeing how changes in stem cell behavior directly affects cancer development made me want to better understand the process of tumor initiation and progression.
I am currently a postdoctoral fellow studying cancer biology in the Zon lab at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. My research involves investigating the signaling pathways that cause normal pigmented cells, or melanocytes, to become cancerous. I use a unique zebrafish model to visualize the earliest stages of skin cancer formation. I love imaging, so be prepared for lots of microscopy and adorable fish pictures during my Biotweeps take over!
When I’m not in the lab, I am spending time outdoors hiking with my husband and two dogs, Roxie (a one-eyed pit mix) and Charlie (a Border Collie). I am also an avid aerialist and dancer; I love being upside down! Follow me on twitter @DrAMcConnell.
My name is Moe Wehbe and I’m a 4th graduate student at the University of British Columbia doing research out of the BC Cancer agency in Pharmaceutical sciences. My goal is to create lipid nanoparticles for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumour. The human brain is naturally shielded from the rest of the body through the blood brain barrier. Although, this is important to keep us healthy it provides a unique barrier that needs to be overcome when trying to treat brain tumours. GBM is commonly treated with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Many chemotherapeutics are unable to reach the tumour due to this barrier, this makes treatment difficult. Cancer treatment through chemotherapy is often given as a combination of drugs, GBM cannot be treated this way due to the insufficient number of drugs able to enter the brain and reach the tumour. Thus, I would like to increase the number of drugs available to treat GBM. My hypothesis is that for drugs that have some propensity to cross the BBB, increasing circulation lifetime should increase the amount of drug accumulated in the tumour site. Increasing drug circulation lifetime can be achieved through encapsulation by liposomes. The alteration in drug pharmacokinetics has been well documented with different liposome formulations created using a variety of lipid compositions. The model drug I’m using for this work is Carboplatin which does show some propensity to cross the blood brain barrier and the ability to kill GBM cells. An important aspect in my approach to drug formulation development is to ensure that everything I do is scaleable to larger batches. This is a necessity to have what we do in the lab translatable to larger batches and eventually the clinic. For this reason, the formulations themselves remain very simple using a passive equilibration to achieve high and efficient loading in the liposomes themselves. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have on lipid based drug delivery, challenges associated with brain delivery and drug pharmacokinetics.