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PLANNING COMMITTEE

Michelle Geddes, MD, FRCPC
CCMDS/AML 2024 Chair

Clinical Associate Professor
University of Calgary
Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies
Department of Medicine, Department of Oncology
Calgary, AB

Dr. Geddes is a hematologist and clinical associate professor at the University of Calgary and Tom Baker Cancer Centre in the departments of Medicine and Oncology.  She trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Alberta and in Hematology and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Calgary.  She has an interest in acute leukemias, myelodysplasia, myeloproliferative disorders and aplastic anemia and has a practice in general hematology and hematopoietic cell transplantation.  She is active in clinical trial enrolment and teaching at the medical school and resident level.

Rena Buckstein, MD FRCPC

Clinical Hematologist, Odette Cancer Center
Associate Professor, Dept of Medicine University of Toronto
Chair MDS-CAN
Chair, Hematology Clinical Trials
Toronto, ON

Rena Buckstein is a clinician investigator at the Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences who specializes in malignant hematology.  She is an associate professor in the department of medicine at University of Toronto.

She completed her medical school training at Boston University and Internal Medicine/Hematology specialty and subspecialty training in Toronto, followed by a fellowship in lymphoma and high dose therapy at Sunnybrook Hospital. She also completed a diploma in clinical epidemiology.

She chaired the hematology site group for 15 years and currently leads the hematology clinical trials program at the Odette Cancer Center. Rena founded and chairs a national registry for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS-CAN) of more than 1400 patients and is an affiliate scientist of Sunnybrook Research Institute. She is a member of the International MDS Foundation scientific advisory board, the Canadian Cancer Society hematology clinical trials sub-committee, a co-chair of an international MDS Guidelines panel for MDS-RIGHT and has chaired national clinical trials in lymphoma and MDS.  She has authored and co-authored 144 publications and holds peer reviewed grants from Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI), Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) that fund investigator-initiated research in MDS and lymphoma.  She is a recipient of the LLSC/UFCW award for leukemia research in Canada. As an associate professor in the department of Medicine at University of Toronto, she enjoys teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.

Her interventional research focuses on novel targeted biologic and immunologic therapies for hematologic malignancies focusing on myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myelogenous leukemia and improving the transfusion experience for MDS patients.   Her non-interventional research focuses on documenting QOL longitudinally and its predictors and  the impact of patient-related factors like frailty and disability on quality of life and clinical outcomes independent of disease-related prognostic factors.  She collaborates on health services research pertaining to ‘real-life’ experience of approved therapies in MDS and the cost/predictors of health care resource utilization. Currently,  she is evaluating the impact of  age-related clonal hematopoiesis (ARCH) on chemotherapy outcomes in older adults with lymphoid cancers, the association of specific mutations with occult coronary artery disease in MDS patients.

Aly Karsan, MD, FRCPC

Molecular Hematopathologist, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, BC Cancer
Distinguished Scientist, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer
Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Myeloid Cancers
Vancouver, BC

Dr. Karsan is a clinician-scientist at BC Cancer, Professor of Pathology at UBC, and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Myeloid Cancers. His current research is focused on epigenetic mechanisms of resistance and relapse in the myeloid cancers using various omic, in vitro and in vivo models, with a focus on single cell approaches, to understand normal and leukemic stem cell function. His clinical interest centres on developing genomic methodologies, and improving automation and quality assurance in clinical genomics. In 2010 he established the first accredited next-generation sequencing lab in Canada, and one of the first in the world, to deliver clinical genomic results. Dr. Karsan has mentored over 60 trainees at the graduate or postdoctoral level, many of whom have gone on to lead their own labs in academia and industry, or are clinician-scientists who hold positions at academic hospitals in Canada and internationally. Funding for Dr. Karsan’s research is supported by grants from CIHR, TFRI, Genome BC, Genome Canada, CCSRI, LLSC.

Wendy Lam, B Sc(Pharm), MD, FRCP(C)

Hematologist / Medical Oncologist
Burnaby Hospital Regional Cancer Centre
Director of BC Community Oncology Trialists
Burnaby, BC

Dr. Wendy Lam is a hematologist and medical oncologist at the Burnaby Hospital Regional Cancer Centre. She received her B.Sc(Pharmacy) at Dalhousie University and her MD from University of British Columbia. She then completed her Internal Medicine residency at UBC and Hematology fellowship at McMaster University.

She is the Director of the British Columbia Community Oncology Trialists, which is a collaborative group of oncologists and hematologists involved in clinical research.

Her other interests include education of patients through meeting with patient groups. She has also been instrumental in organizing meetings for continued medical education.

Brian Leber, MD, FRCPC

Hematologist,
Leukemia and Cell Therapy Programmes
Juravinski Cancer Centre/Hamilton Health Sciences
Professor of Medicine, McMaster University
Hamilton, ON

Dr. Leber is a hematologist in the Leukemia and Cell Therapy Programmes of the Juravinski Cancer Centre/Hamilton Health Sciences, and a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University.

Heather Leitch, MD, PHD, FRCPC

Clinical Professor
Division of Hematology
Department of Medicine
University of British Columbia
Hematologist,
St. Paul’s Hospital
Vancouver, BC

Dr. Heather Leitch is a Hematologist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, and Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Leitch’s clinical and research interests include transfusional iron overload in acquired anemias such as the myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and a longstanding interest in lymphoproliferative and other blood disorders in the setting of HIV infection. She is Director of Hematology/Oncology Research at St. Paul’s Hospital, a reviewer of scientific papers for several medical journals and an active member of the UBC Department of Medicine Research Advisory Committee.

M. Lynn Savoie

Clinical Associate Professor
Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies
University of Calgary
Calgary, AB

Dr. Lynn Savoie is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Oncology at the University of Calgary as well as a member of the Department of Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplantation at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary.  She received her medical degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax where she also completed her internal medicine residency.  Her hematology fellowship was completed at the University of Manitoba followed by a clinical Leukemia/Bone marrow transplantation fellowship with the Leukemia/BMT program of British Columbia.

Her interests lie in myeloid malignancies and medical education. She is the local primary investigator for a number of clinical trials including in CML, AML. MDS and ALL. She is the current secretary of the recently formed Canadian Leukemia Study Group and the co-chair of the leukemia subcommittee at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. She is the previous chair of the hematology component of medical education at the University of Calgary as well as chair of the Hematology exam committee at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

SPEAKERS

Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center
San Diego, CA

Dr. Rafael Bejar an Associate Professor at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center where he directs the MDS Center of Excellence. In addition to caring for patients, Dr. Bejar conducts laboratory research exploring the clinical impact of genetic mutations and epigenetic alterations observed in MDS. He is a prior American Society of Hematology Scholar and has served on the NCCN Guidelines Committee for MDS. He is a member of the IWG for MDS Molecular Prognosis Committee, the WHO Classification Committee, and the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of the MDS Foundation. As of January 2020, Dr. Bejar has taken a partial leave to serve as the Chief Medical Officer for Aptose Biosciences.

Tobias Berg, MD FRCPC

Associate Professor, McMaster University
Clinical Hematologist,
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre
Hamilton, ON

Dr. Berg is Associate Professor with McMaster’s Department of Oncology and clinical hematologist at the Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. He is the Director of the Translational Oncology Program with McMaster’s Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research and is the lead on the HHS/McMaster University Cancer Research Stem Cell Bank. He is Associate Member with the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, as well as with McMaster’s Medical Sciences Graduate Program, and he holds the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation Chair in Leukemia and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Translational Research.

Dr. Berg is a clinician scientist with a strong interest in acute leukemias and allogeneic stem cell transplantation as well as translational research in this area. Dr. Berg received his medical degree from the University of Freiburg, Germany and Habilitation, Dr. med. habil in Internal Medicine & Hematology & Oncology from J.W. Goethe Universitat Frankfurt, Germany.

Dr. Berg’s research program is centered around understanding determinants of treatment response in hematological malignancies with a particular emphasis on epigenetic regulation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The focus of his group in this context is to study the impact of epigenetic interventions on cellular mechanisms in myeloid leukemia cells such as differentiation, metabolism, or immune activation. His group uses state-of-the-art model systems based on both murine models as well as primary human material and functional metabolic assays as well as global multi-omic approaches to understand the effects of interventions on AML cells. His research program is in direct relation to his clinical work that focuses on treating patients with acute leukemias and more specifically allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

Lucy Godley, MD

Jeffrey and Marianne Silver Family Professor of Oncology
Director of the Silver Family Blood Cancer Institute
Clinical Director of Cancer Genetics
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center & Division of Hematology/Oncology
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Dr. Godley received scientific training in the Marchesi (Yale), Wiley (Harvard), and Varmus (UCSF/NIH) laboratories and medical training at Northwestern. After training in Internal Medicine and Hematology-Oncology at The University of Chicago, she held a long-time faculty position at the University of Chicago and relocated in May 2023 to Northwestern University where she is the Jeffrey and Marianne Silver Family Professor of Oncology; Director of the Silver Family Blood Cancer Institute and Clinical Director of Cancer Genetics for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and Division of Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Godley also runs an independent research laboratory focused on understanding the molecular pathways that drive hematopoietic malignancies, especially how germline predisposition alleles contribute to individual and family risk. Dr. Godley has contributed to the recognition of germline DDX41, ETV6, and CSF3R variants as risk factors to developing hematopoietic malignancies. She is also studying how deleterious germline RUNX1, CHEK2, and BRCA1/2 variants drive these cancers, especially considering how the development of clonal hematopoiesis and inflammatory pathways contribute to tumorigenesis. Dr. Godley has shown that germline contribution to hematopoietic malignancies occurs throughout the entire age range of life and is more common than previously anticipated, which has important implications for the allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell donor pool. Along with David Wu (Univ of Washington), Dr. Godley co-chairs the Myeloid Malignancy Variant Curation Expert Panel, which has provided variant curation rules for RUNX1 that are now in use throughout the world and is currently developing similar rules for GATA2 and DDX41. Dr. Godley’s group also studies how covalently modified cytosines in DNA control cellular differentiation, specifically how hypoxia alters epigenetic modifications with hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, especially during erythropoiesis. Dr. Godley practices bench to bedside medicine that advances patient care through a deep appreciation of the latest scientific findings.

Prof. Dr. Michael Heuser

Chair for Molecular Therapies in Hematology
Hematology, Hemostasis, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation Hannover Medical School
Hannover, GR

Dr. Heuser is a professor of medicine and holds a Chair for Molecular Therapies in Hematology at Hannover Medical School, Germany. He is the chair of the European LeukemiaNet MRD working party ELN-DAVID. His research focuses on developing improved treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), on the pathogenesis of AML, and on measurable residual disease in AML patients. Dr. Heuser has been a clinical investigator in 70 clinical trials and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed publications.

Florian Kuchenbauer

Clinician-Scientist
Vancouver General Hospital
Vancouver, BC

As a clinician-scientist at Vancouver General Hospital, I specialize in treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients, with a research focus on enhancing treatment outcomes. My work includes extensive preclinical studies aimed at understanding molecular mutations in AML subtypes and using animal models to investigate oncogene functions, all with the aim of translating these findings into improved patient care. Additionally, I advocate for translational interfaces, such as clinical trials, to bridge the gap between research and practice.

Céline Moison, PhD

Research Associate
Dr. Guy Sauvageau Research Unit – Molecular Genetics of Stem Cells
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer
Université de Montréal, Pavillon Marcelle-Coutu
Montreal, QC

Céline obtained her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University Paris 6, France. In collaboration with Pierre Fabre Pharmaceutics, she studied epigenetics and the mechanisms involved in tumor suppressor gene silencing in breast and prostate cancers. In 2013, she joined Dr. Guy Sauvageau’s lab first as a Postoctoral Fellow and then as a research associate and now leads the chemo-genomic group of the Leucegene project, which aims to find alternative therapeutic options for poor-prognosis subtypes of AML.

Monika Oliver, MD FRCPC

Hematologist
Assistant Professor
Division of Hematology
University of Alberta

Dr. Monika Oliver received her MD from the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, Alberta. She then completed both her Internal Medicine residency and Hematology fellowship at the University of Alberta. Her clinical interests include thrombotic microangiopathies and complement mediated disorders, with a particular emphasis on Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH). She also has a keen interest in the area of apheresis with a focus on quality improvement. She was the 2021 recipient of the Marshall Eliuk Fellowship Award in Hematology which she utilized to complete a clinical fellowship in complement disorders and apheresis at the University Health Network in Toronto. She has since returned to Alberta and assumed the position of staff Hematologist and assistant professor with a cross appointment as Apheresis co-lead in the division of Hematology at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Alexander Perl, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Leukemia Program
Division of Hematology/Oncology
Perelman School of Medicine at the
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Alexander Perl, MD is a member of the leukemia program in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. He earned his MD degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a MS degree in Translational Research from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Perl completed post-graduate medical residency training in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and fellowship training in medical oncology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has been a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania since 2003 where his clinical and research expertise are in molecularly-targeted therapeutics for acute leukemia. In particular, Dr. Perl played a key role in the clinical development of a number of FLT3 inhibitors for AML including serving as lead investigator for the first-in-human and pivotal trials of gilteritinib. Dr. Perl has published over 100 original research articles, invited reviews, commentaries, or book chapters and is a frequent invited speaker internationally on the topic of clinical management of AML in the era of novel therapeutics. He also contributes to US national practice guidelines by serving on the National Comprehensive Cancer Center Network (NCCN) AML panel. Dr. Perl’s laboratory efforts have focused upon late pre-clinical drug assessment, pharmacodynamic analysis of targeted agents from trials, and analysis of resistance mechanisms to targeted therapy.

Keith W. Pratz, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Leukemia Program

Abramson Cancer Center
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Pratz is a clinical investigator of novel therapeutics for acute leukemias and is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Leukemia Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

David Sallman, MD

Leukemia & MDS Section Head
Associate Member, Department of Malignant Hematology
Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Oncologic Sciences
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL

David Sallman, MD, is an associate member in the Department of Malignant Hematology at Moffitt Cancer Center and assistant professor in the Department of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida, both in Tampa. Dr. Sallman is the myeloid section head of the malignant hematology department. He earned his medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine and completed an internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before completing a hematology/oncology fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center. He is board certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine.

Dr Sallman’s clinical interests are myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and myeloproliferative neoplasms. His research interests focus on the development of novel targeted therapeutic strategies (phase 1 and 2 clinical trials) for patients with MDS and AML, based on the underlying mutational drivers of each disease. Specifically, he studies the genetic drivers of myeloid diseases to improve prognostication for patients and to allow for more personalized treatment. He has published significantly on this topic, including recently in highly regarded journals such as Leukemia and Haematologica, and these works are the foundation of clinical trials/translational studies designed to improve the quality of life and survival of patients with MDS. He is the principal investigator for multiple ongoing studies focused on higher-risk MDS. Furthermore, his recent work has focused on TP53-mutant MDS, where he and his team identified and validated that the clonal burden of TP53 mutation is strongly concordant with patient outcomes and are intimately tied with the clinical trajectory of these patients. Additionally, they have identified that serial next-generation sequencing has significant prognostic value and can be an early biomarker of outcome with novel agents. He has been the lead principal investigator for phase 1-3 trials TP53-mutant MDS and AML patients.  Additionally, Dr. Sallman serves as lead PI for multiple cellular therapy trials including CAR-T and TCR therapies.

Dr Sallman has authored or coauthored numerous articles, books, book chapters, and abstracts and serves as reviewer for multiple journals. He received the Young Investigator Grant from the MDS Foundation in 2017 and the Dresner Foundation Career Development award in 2018.

Mikkael A. Sekeres, MD, MS

Chief, Division of Hematology
Professor of Medicine
Sylvester Cancer Center, University of Miami
Miami, FL

Mikkael Sekeres is Professor of Medicine with Tenure and Chief of the Division of Hematology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He earned a medical degree and a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr Sekeres completed his postgraduate training at Harvard University, finishing an internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in hematology-oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He is chair of the medical advisory board of the Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) International Foundation, and formerly chaired the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the F.D.A.

Dr Sekeres’ research focuses on patients with MDS and older adults with acute myeloid leukemia, and he has been the national and international primary study investigator on dozens of phase I/II/III trials. He is the author or co-author of over 450 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 650 abstracts. He was the inaugural editor-in-chief of the ASH Clinical News magazine; he is on the editorial board of several journals; has written over 100 essays for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Slate, and The Hill, among others; and has authored 8 books, including When Blood Breaks Down: Life Lessons from Leukemia (The MIT Press 2020) and Drugs and the FDA: Safety, Efficacy, and the Public’s Trust (The MIT Press 2022).

Ryan Stubbins, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Hematologist, Leukemia/BMT Program of BC, BC Cancer and VCH
Medical Director, Clinical Cell Therapy Laboratory, BC Cancer Research Center
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC

Dr. Ryan Stubbins is a Hematologist and Stem Cell Transplant physician in the Leukemia/BMT program of BC. He previously did his medical school, residency training, a MSc, and hematology/BMT training at the Universities of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. He has performed additional research training at the BC Cancer Genome Sciences Center and the University of Chicago. He has clinical and research interests are focused on transplant and cell therapy, as well as myeloid malignancy.