Representing Canada’s Leading Biobanks

The Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet) was established in 2004 as a non-profit association of leading Canadian biobanks. CTRNet’s mandate from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance was to establish, promote, and disseminate standards for biobanking. CTRNet’s Vision is that Canadian researchers will have unsurpassed access to the quality of human biospecimens and data they need to conduct research, translate their findings, and positively impact patient care/outcomes.

The two major components required to achieve this Vision are process interoperability and data interoperability between biobanks. CTRNet has created biobanking process standards (embodied in a set of Required Operational Practices and Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs) and biobanking data standards (embodied in the Advanced Tissue Information Management, ATiM, platform) .

Dr. Peter Watson
Executive Member and Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Peter Watson is Director of the Biobanking and Biospecimen Research Services (BBRS) program at BC Cancer, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) in British Columbia. He also holds appointments as Senior Scientist and as Professor of Pathology, University of British Columbia, and as adjunct faculty at the University of Victoria.

He completed his medical training at the University of Cambridge and St Thomas's Hospital London, UK and specialist training in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Manitoba. After fellowship training he established a career as a clinician-scientist at the University of Manitoba, prior to joining BC Cancer.

He currently combines a clinical practice as a breast pathologist with research interests in the molecular pathology of breast and ovarian cancer, and in biospecimen and biobanking resources. His research program focuses on biomarkers of breast tumour progression and response to therapies. This work has included the discovery, validation, elucidation of the mechanism of action, and exploration of the therapeutic potential of the S100A7 gene in breast cancer. This research has led to the publication of over 200 scientific research papers in the fields of cancer research and biobanking.

He has also led provincial and national biobanking initiatives to advance translational cancer research. In addition, Dr. Watson serves as co-lead of the Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet) and is Deputy Editor for the journal Biopreservation and Biobanking.

Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson
Executive Member and Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson is a molecular oncologist who obtained her Ph.D. degree in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of McGill University in 1984. From 1984 to 1986, she pursued her post-doctoral studies at UCLA's Molecular Biology Institute, researching the BCR-ABL gene implicated in chronic myelogenous leukemia. She was then appointed as a research associate at the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal. In 1989, Dr. Mes-Masson joined the Montreal Cancer Institute, and the University of Montreal's Department of Medicine, where she became a full professor in 2001.

From 2001-2017, Dr. Mes-Masson was the Scientific Director of the Montreal Cancer Institute and head of the Cancer axis at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM). Presently, Dr. Mes-Masson is the Associate Scientific Director, Basic and Translational Research at the CRCHUM. In 2003, Dr. Mes-Masson was nominated as director of the Cancer Research Network (Réseau de recherche sur le cancer RRCancer) for the Fonds de la recherche Québec - Santé (FRQS) where she has championed biobanking and accompanying standards for cancer biobanks in Quebec. Dr. Mes-Masson's research focuses on the development of cancer models and on the identification of molecular events implicated in ovarian and prostate cancer, and their translation into clinical tools for patient management. With her clinical collaborators, she has been instrumental in oncology biobanking at the CRCHUM.

Dr. Mes-Masson has co-led several large translational research programs that include biobanking components. This includes the Terry Fox Research Institute COEUR program, a pan-Canadian program for the study of ovarian cancer. In addition, she has pioneered multiple novel ovarian cancer models to study cancer, including the development of novel cell lines, the description of 3D spheroid cultures for oncology, and more recently the combination of live ex vivo tissue with microfluidics for empirical drug testing.

CTRNet was founded by six charter member biobank nodes. Today, CTRNet’s platforms are hosted by two nodes. The Biospecimen Quality Platform is led by CTRNet’s BC node under the direction of Dr. Peter Watson. Its components include a national biobank certification program, a unique and comprehensive biobanking education program, and biobanking process standards. The Data Quality Management Platform is led by CTRNet’s Quebec node under the direction of Dr. Anne- Marie Mes-Masson. It is comprised of the Advanced Tissue Information Management (ATiM) system and its embedded data standards.
These two nodes are supported by the CTRNet College of Advisors (COA) which consists of leaders of charter biobanks and experts in the area of translational research in Canada. The COA members are as follows:

Rebecca Barnes
College of Advisors Member

Rebecca Barnes is the Executive Director for the Network of Networks (N2). She has spent her career working in different leadership roles, all with the common thread of enhancing health research capacity through sustainable systems and processes and robust stakeholder engagement. This included serving as CTRNet’s Program Leader for close to ten years. Other previous roles include overseeing research engagement for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, serving as Lead for CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Initiative on Vancouver Island, and working as Director of the University of Victoria’s Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and a Master’s degree (Environmental Toxicology/Carcinogenesis).

Jonathan Bush
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Jonathan Bush is a pediatric and perinatal pathologist who completed his pediatric pathology fellowship training at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago/Northwestern University after obtaining his MD and anatomical pathology residency training at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Bush has been a staff pathologist at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, investigator at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and clinical faculty member at the University of British Columbia since 2015.
The primary research interests of Dr. Bush’s include pediatric tumors, with a special interest in osteosarcoma where he is a study member of the Children’s Oncology Group AOST2031 clinical trial. He also has an interest in using proteogenomics to evaluate inter and intra-tumoral heterogeneity in a wide variety of pediatric cancers. Non-oncologic interests include pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract, placenta, and embryo and fetus.
After completing courses offered by Dr. Peter Watson and the UBCx program in biobanking, Dr. Bush took on the role of Co-Director at the BC Children’s Hospital Biobank. His focus is on expanding the collection of pediatric solid tumor samples and expanding the specimen processing methods to include cryopreserved and primary culture formats.

Dr. Kathryn Graham
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Kathryn Graham is a cell and molecular biologist who obtained her Ph.D. in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, Ontario Cancer Institute. Her postdoctoral training was at the University of Alberta where she studied molecular virology. Starting in 1995 she pursued translational cancer research in the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta, Cross Cancer Institute. Her research interests include the expression of nucleoside transporter genes and in the analysis of gene expression signatures in breast cancer. Currently she manages the Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, a component of Cancer Research and Analytics, Cancer Care Alberta.

Dr. Leigh Murphy
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Leigh Murphy is a cellular/molecular endocrinologist and biochemist who obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Sydney, Australia in 1976. She has been working on various aspects of breast cancer research since her first postdoctoral position, in 1977. Since establishing her independent research program in 1987 as a Professor in Dept of Biochemistry at the University of Manitoba she has focused on understanding the multifaceted nature of estrogen receptors (ERs) in breast cancer and how ER dysfunction contributes to breast cancer progression and treatment resistance. Since establishing a collaboration with Dr Peter Watson in the early 1990’s she has been actively involved in research biobanking and the various components involved, including specimen science, tissue quality, data capture, inventory control, governance, ethics, and sustainability. Currently, she is a Distinguished Professor in the Dept of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, a Senior Scientist in the Cancercare Manitoba Research Institute (CCMR) and the Director of the Manitoba Tumour Bank, in the CCMR.

Dr. Lynne Postovit
College of Advisors Member
Dr. Brent Schacter
College of Advisors Member

Schacter is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Internal Medicine of the University of Manitoba and member of the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology at CancerCare Manitoba. He has published 90 manuscripts and over 100 abstracts and made about 70 invited presentations. From 1993 to 2003 he was President and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba. He then became CEO of the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies (CAPCA) from 2003 until 2008.  He was previously the Principal Investigator for CTRNet and he was President of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (2016/17) and was a member of the Board for eight years. Most recently he has lead the development and diffusion of the ISBER Qualification in Biorepository Science qualification examination for biobanking professionals. He has also been a member of the SCC Mirror Committee for ISO TC276 and contributed to the development of the ISO20387 – Biotechnology-Biobanking-General requirements for biobanking.

Dr. Dominique Trudel
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Trudel obtained her medical degree in Québec City at the Université Laval in 2005 while completing a master degree in Experimental Medicine in 2004 (combined MD/MSc program) working on biomarkers in prostate cancer. She completed her residency in Anatomical Pathology at the Université Laval in 2011. During her residency, she entered the Clinician-Investigator (CI) Program of the Royal College of Canada and she was appointed as residents' representative in the CI Program and she completed her PhD in 2014. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Trudel worked in the area of prostate cancer as part of The Terry Fox Foundation Strategic Health Research Training Program in Cancer Research at Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (Molecular Oncologic Pathology). Since 2014, Dr. Trudel is a clinician scientist at the CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal), and her main research interests are the characterization of an aggressive variant of prostate cancer, intraductal carcinoma of the prostate, and the application of Raman spectroscopy to clinical diagnosis of tumors. She is the only pathologist in Canada who received twice the Junior Scientist Award of the Canadian Association of Pathologists/Association canadienne des pathologistes. She is the co-director of the molecular pathology platform at the CHUM research center and is a reference pathologist in large biobanking initiative such as the Canadian Prostate Cancer Biomarker Network (CPCBN). 

Dr. Lois Shepherd
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Lois Shepherd is a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University. She completed her medical school training at McGill and spent three years in England where her interest in Hematology developed. She completed her training as a Hematopathologist at the University of Ottawa and moved to Queen's University, Kingston in 1987. Dr. Shepherd is currently the Director of the Transfusion Medicine Service and Immunology at Kingston General Hospital. Since 1989, Dr. Shepherd has worked with the Clinical Trials Group of the NCIC (NCIC CTG) as a Senior Investigator. Her focus has been in Haematology and Breast Cancer as well as the development of the National Tumor/Tissue/Data Repository associated with the NCIC Clinical Trials Group where she is the Operational Director of this resource.

Dr. Ming Tsao
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Tsao is a Pathologist and Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, and the Qasim Choksi Chair in Lung Cancer Translational Research. His research focuses on dissecting the genomic aberrations in lung cancers, identifying aberrations and gene expression signatures that can be used clinically as prognostic markers of survival and predictive markers of response to therapies. Many of these studies involve the use of banked snap-frozen and archival pathology samples from patients involved in pivotal lung cancer clinical trials. He has published more than 320 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Dr. Tsao is the co-Chair of the Correlative Science and Tumor Biology Committee of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG). He received the 2011 O. Harold Warwick Award from the Canadian Cancer Society. He is the Director of the Terry Fox Foundation Training Program in Clinician Scientists in Oncologic Pathology.

Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden is the inaugural Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research, a Distinguished University Professor in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a Senior Scientist in the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her current research program focuses on using new technologies to understand how cells communicate with each other in tumours, developing and improving models of ovarian cancer, and using those models to design and test novel cancer therapeutics. Dr. Vanderhyden has managed the Ottawa Ovarian Cancer Tissue Bank since 1995. She serves on the Board of Directors of Ovarian Cancer Canada, is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and chairs the OvCAN Governing Council which oversees a national strategic research plan to advance novel treatments for ovarian cancer.

Dr. Zhaolin Xu
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Zhaolin Xu is a Pulmonary Pathologist and Cytopathologist at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, Professor of Pathology at the Dalhousie University, and Senior Scientist at the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. He obtained specialist certification from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1997, and the American Board of Pathology in 1998. He is also the Chair of Research Committee, and Medical Advisory Committee member, Lung Cancer Canada. His research focuses on lung cancer molecular profiling, immune check point PD-L1, liquid biopsy for genomic analysis and proteomics in cancer cells. He is one of the two founders and the Director of the QEII Lung Tumor Bank since 2005, which has now become one of the largest and the most comprehensive lung tumor bank in the country. He is the driving force to establish multiplexed molecular profiling in a true reflexive fashion for lung cancer in a clinical setting in Halifax since 2012. Such practice and approach was the first of this kind in Canada, which is now widely accepted in the country.

Lincoln Stein
College of Advisors Member

Lincoln Stein is an MD/PhD who works on biological data integration and visualization. After his training at Harvard Medical School, where he became a board-certified pathologist, he worked at the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research developing databases used for the mouse and human genome maps. From 1998-2008 he worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on a variety of genome-scale databases including WormBase, the database of the C. elegans genome, Gramene, a comparative genome mapping database for rice and other monocots, the International HapMap Project Database, and a human biological pathways database called Reactome. He is now Head, Adaptive Oncology, at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, where he works on a number of large-scale genomic data integration projects, including the PanCancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Project, and the International Cancer Genome Consortium

Trevor Pugh
College of Advisors Member

As Director of the Joint Genomics Program of the University Health Network and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Dr. Trevor Pugh investigates clinical implications of clonal shifts in cancer and non-cancerous cell populations during treatment. He is a board-certified molecular geneticist (ABMG/ACMG) and cancer genomics researcher specializing in application of cell-free DNA, immune repertoire, and single cell RNA-seq sequencing to clinical specimens.

Under his leadership, the Joint Genomics Program has undergone accreditation by CAP and IQMH/ISO to enable clinical reporting of whole genome, transcriptome, and circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) sequencing. Major research contributions have included establishment of ctDNA changes as a predictor of immunotherapy response; invention of a hybrid-capture method for immune repertoire profiling; pioneering ctDNA sequencing and establishing clinical laboratory guidelines for multiple myeloma; genome characterization of several pediatric solid tumours; and deployment of genome technologies and software to support clinical genomic testing. He chairs working groups within national and international genomics data-sharing programs including AACR GENIE and the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. He leads one of four NIH-funded teams to develop cBioPortal, and has been funded by Genome Canada to build CReSCENT, a cloud-based system for analysis and sharing single cell genomics data. His translational role brings him in contact with a diversity of leading clinical trialists, many of whom are early adopters of the Pugh labs’ genome profiling methods

Jennifer Chan
College of Advisors Member

Dr. Jennifer Chan is a pathologist-scientist and the Director of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the University of Calgary. She earned a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dartmouth College, and an MD from McGill University. She then completed her residency in Anatomic Pathology, fellowship in Neuropathology, and research fellowship in oncology at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Following her clinical and research training, she held the role of Pathology Leader at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she oversaw the tissue and biospecimen support for its cancer studies. Jennifer's ability to traverse between the lab and the clinic has enabled her to bring together investigators from across the cancer research continuum. She has led, co-led, and contributed to several projects to discover new genes and therapeutic targets in a range of cancers through her expertise in tissue histopathologic and molecular analysis, biologic correlates of clinical studies, biobanking, and patient-derived model generation.

Tamsin Tarling
Program Leader, CTRNet and Project Manager, Biospecimen and Biobanking Research Services (BBRS)

Tamsin Tarling is the Program Leader for CTRNet and co-leader of the BC Cancer Biobanking and Biospecimen Research Services. Tamsin has worked in the field of biobanking since 2011 and was involved in reviewing and providing input to the CTRNet Education modules. Tamsin has extensive experience establishing biobanks, both disease specific biobanks and campus wide hospital biobanks, her experience encompasses all aspects of biobanking including the consent of patients, specimen collection, management of SOPs and ensuring good governance over the collection, storage and distribution of specimens. In addition, Tamsin has done a significant amount of work in regard to biobank standards, biobank audits and biobank legacy projects. Tamsin is chair of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) Education and Training.


Nicolas Luc
ATiM Project Leader

Nicolas Luc joined CTRNet in 2007. As the ATiM Lead Software Developer, he identifies, analyzes, prioritizes, and controls new requirements and change requests for ATiM based on the business needs and the comments of network biobank experts. He is also in charge of ongoing functional analysis and consolidating and communicating information to the developers. In addition, Nicolas works actively with network biobanks as an ATiM software consultant. He analyses the gaps between the ATiM core version and specific biobank requirements, designs custom solutions, customizes the ATiM source code, deploys the customized versions, and offers training and support to bank users. Nicolas has worked for six years on software development both for biomedical research and clinical research. Nicolas holds a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics.

Sheila O'Donoghue
Education/Certification Program Lead

Sheila O'Donoghue is the co-leader of the BC Cancer Biobanking and Biospecimen Research Services . She is also responsible for the biobanking registration, certification and associated education programs. She was a member of the BC Cancer REB and is currently the interim Director of BC Cancer Research Ethics. Prior to her current roles, she was the project manager for the BC BioLibrary and spent more than twenty years managing national and local clincal research trials. She is the past chair of the Education and Training Committee of the international biobanking society, ISBER.

Simon Dee
IT Project Manager

Simon Dee leads and maintains multiple application platforms relevant to the services and activities of the BBRS. He has over 15 years’ experience in understanding, building, and maintaining novel custom web-based applications and services for health researchers. These include the internationally recognized Biobank Resource Center and applications relevant to providing cutting edge biobanking solutions for cancer research including applications for maintenance and linkage of biospecimen and data inventories. 

Manon de Ladurantaye
Lead, French Registration/Certification

Manon de Ladurantaye is a research assistant in Dr. Mes-Masson’s laboratory at the Montreal Cancer Institute and the University of Montreal Research Center (CRCHUM). She performs quality control for CTRNet member banks and large scale projects such as the Terry Fox Research Institute pan Canadian COEUR Initiative. She oversees reception, shipment, storage, inventory, coordination, and communication of results with other centers to help them improve the quality of banked samples. She is also the CTRNet French Certification Coordinator. In the Biobank Certification Program, she provides information, supports, and adjudicates the registration and certification of French language biobanks.

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