September 3, 2010 (Toronto, ON)
Venture Sinai, a group dedicated to applying its experience and business savvy to investing in medical research, supports various scientific activities at the Lunenfeld. Two young trainee scientists supported by Venture Sinai were recently recognized for their research endeavours.
Dr. Alicia Tone, a fellow in Dr. Ted Brown’s laboratory who is supported by Venture Sinai Women, focuses on identifying early events involved in the development of epithelial ovarian cancer. Dr. Tone hopes to improve the identification of women at greatest risk, and ultimately help improve treatments for the illness.
Dr. Tone presented her work on the molecular and genetic factors underlying ovarian cancer at the 5th annual Canadian Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research held in Toronto in May. In recognition of her innovative research, Dr. Tone was awarded a Sue Bernier Award for Outstanding Oral Presentation. She also presented recently at the University of Toronto’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research Day, and received the Dr. J.W. Knox Ritchie Research Award in the Post-Doctoral Category.
“Recognition as the Venture Sinai Women Fellow helped me secure a new post-doctoral position to continue my research and establish new scientific collaborations,” said Dr. Tone.
A new study by Dr. Tone and her colleagues, which explores inflammatory signaling in fallopian tubes from women with an inherited BRCA1/2 mutation, was recently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Azadeh Golipour, the inaugural Venture Sinai 2 Fellow, is a rising star in Dr. Jeff Wrana’s lab, and her work in cancer and stem cells is on the cutting edge of international research. Golipour’s hypothesis is that differentiated cancer cells can reprogram in vivo to give rise to new cancer stem cells, resulting in recurring tumour formation. A better understanding of cancer stem cell biology will help lead to more effective treatments for cancer.
“Usually there is a gap between scientists and the general public,” said Golipour. “Venture Sinai acts as a bridge to connect the two groups. This is a very important mission to accomplish, as it brings the two groups closer together and leads them to work toward a common goal.”
In February, Golipour was invited to speak at a Keystone Meeting (a prestigious international series of biomedical conferences), and was awarded a Travel Award by the International Society of Stem Cell Research to present at its annual meeting in June.
Along with other members of Dr. Wrana’s lab including Payman Samavarchi-Tehrani and Laurent David, Golipour is working to explore the process of changing fully mature cells of the body (known as somatic cells) to pluripotent cells (cells that can develop into all other cell types), toward understanding the molecular and genetic changes that occur during the cells’ reprogramming.
Understanding this process will help researchers identify and circumvent the road blocks in making induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are a source of great hope for use in regenerative medicine, as well as in the development of new drugs to prevent and treat various diseases. Results from Golipour’s research and the Wrana lab were published in the July 2010 issue of the top stem cell journal, Cell Stem Cell.
Begun in 2009, Venture Sinai consists of three main groups, with new affiliates launching later this year. To date, Venture Sinai has collectively committed nearly $750,000 to research at the Lunenfeld.