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Our Team

Meet the members of the Auer Lab

Dr. Rebecca Auer

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rebecca Auer is a Surgical Oncologist specializing in Colorectal Surgery and Abdominal Sarcomas at The Ottawa Hospital and an Associate Scientist in the Center for Innovative Cancer Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Auer is interested in all aspects of cancer surgery, from diagnosis to surgery for metastatic disease. As a Surgeon-Scientist, Dr. Auer heads a research laboratory and is the principal investigator in related clinical trials. Her translational research program focuses on understanding the promotion of metastatic disease in the perioperative period, following surgical stress. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Ottawa; Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of Ottawa.

Michael Kennedy

Senior Research Associate

Mike received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in pathology and lab medicine. He has a diverse research experience having spent time studying molecular aspects of cilia formation and function, neurodegenerative disease, yeast genetics and immune responses to viral vectors. Mike provides support and direction for the diverse research programs currently underway in the Auer lab.  

Christiano Tanese de Souza

Senior Researcher and Animal Technician

Christiano graduated in 1997 as a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine from the Universidade Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He now has over 15 years of animal work experience and 10 years of research laboratory experience, with an emphasis on ‘in vivo’ techniques. During his time at the lab, he collaborates to create innovative ideas, provides technical support to students and trainees, participates in the development of new animal research models, and is responsible for the general management of the lab.

Leonard Angka

PhD Candidate

Leonard Angka is a PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at the University of Ottawa. His research is focused on understanding and investigating the effects of cancer surgery on the innate immune system. Specifically, Natural Killer cells which are extremely important for our bodies to destroy residual cancer cells are dysfunctional following a major surgical procedure due to suppressor cells known as Myeloid derived suppressor cells. He is characterizing the interaction between these cell types and discovering novel therapies to administer before and after surgery to target the suppressive mechanisms.  

Katherine Baxter

PhD Candidate

Katherine is a PhD candidate in Dr. Auer’s lab, enrolled in the Microbiology and Immunology program at the University of Ottawa. Katherine is an Ottawa native, and graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Science

(honours) in Biopharmaceutical Sciences, specialization in Genomics. Her current research focuses on pancreatic cancer. She has been developing a surgical model of pancreatic cancer for the future testing of immunotherapies and is creating an oncolytic prime-boost vaccine platform specifically targeting this deadly cancer.

Marisa Market

MD/PhD Candidate

Marisa has completed two years of medicine at the University of Ottawa, and is now working on her PhD which focuses on understanding postoperative NK cell dysfunction. She is currently studying NK cell function by investigating defects in IFN-gamma signaling and production in cancer patients. Marisa is from Windsor and completed her Honours B.Sc in Biological Sciences at the University of Windsor. Her previous lab work involved studying the interaction of cell cycle proteins Tuberin and Cyclin B1 in the context of tuberous sclerosis. In the future, Marisa hopes to pursue a career in surgery.

Sarwat Khan

MSc Candidate

Sarwat, MSc student in Dr. Auer's lab, is pursuing his degree in Microbiology and Immunology (MIC) at the University of Ottawa. He finished his BSc in Biochemistry (MIC) at uOttawa in 2016 before joining us. He previously worked on Hepatitis C and CD8+ T-cell immunology with Drs. Angela Crawley and Curtis Cooper at The Ottawa Hospital. He has also worked at Agriculture Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the University of Ottawa. In the lab, Sarwat is evaluating immune responses to oncolytic virus-based vaccines in murine models of peritoneal carcinomatosis, in an attempt to overcome tumor-mediated immune suppression. Sarwat comes from Bangladesh, and is enjoying his time in Ottawa.

Juliana Ng

Research Technician

Juliana comes to the Auer lab with over 10 years of experience in laboratory research development, both in academia and in industry. She earned her B. Sc in Biotechnology and Biology, Honours with thesis from Carleton University. Her current work in the lab is to develop and optimize an infected cell vaccine production protocol, which combines oncolytic viruses and autologous tumour cell vaccines.

Marlena Scaffidi

Clinical Research Coordinator

Marlena is in her third year of her Honours B.Sc in Biochemistry, option in Microbiology and Immunology. She began her cooperative education in the Auer lab in January 2018, and is staying for two consecutive work terms. As a research coordinator, she oversees many of the various ongoing clinical trials in the lab. She manages these research projects by coordinating and overseeing recruitment of study participants, and collecting and analyzing study related material.

Meghan Chapados

Honours Student

Meghan started as a volunteer and went on to complete a UROP project in Dr. Rebecca Auer’s lab. She is now working in the lab as a summer student after receiving a BioCanRx research grant. Her project is designed to investigate the role of immunogenic cell death (ICD) markers in the context of improving the therapeutic efficacy of an infected cell vaccine. Meghan will be continuing her work in the Auer lab as an Honours student beginning in Fall 2018.

Dominique Boucher

Summer Student

Dominique has just completed her second year in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ottawa. She was previously a UROP student in the Auer lab, and is now working in the lab as a summer student. Her project involves characterizing the role of IFN-beta in generating the antitumour response for an infected leukemia cell vaccine. Outside of the lab, Dominique is an equestrian and a runner, in the process of training for a half marathon. In the future, she aspires to pursue a career in medicine.

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