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 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 in 1983 and specialist training in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Manitoba in 1988. After fellowship training he established a career as a clinician-scientist in 1993 at the University of Manitoba, and since 2005 has been at 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 175 scientific research papers.

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 he is currently the director of the University of British Columbia, Department of Pathology Office of Biobank Education and Research, serves on the executive of the Marble Arch International Working Group for Biobanking 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:

Dr. John Bartlett
College of Advisors Member

Dr. John Bartlett is pursuing an integrated platform of research focused on the development of novel cancer diagnostics.

In 2011, Dr. Bartlett became Director of OICR’s Transformative Pathology Platform and the Ontario Tumour Bank. He is developing new diagnostic approaches to improve patient diagnosis and treatment. By gaining an understanding of the molecular complexity of cancer, accurate diagnostic approaches can be developed to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatment. Novel diagnostic tools are required to accurately identify molecular sub-types of cancer and to predict the effectiveness of treatment. Dr. Bartlett has contributed to the development of translational research within multi-centre clinical trials, several of which have led to new insights into selecting appropriate therapeutics for breast cancer patients. He aims to foster research in other laboratories across the province to accelerate the discovery of novel diagnostics for cancer.

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 Edmonton node of the cbcf Tumour Bank and MicroArray Facility, a component of the Alberta Cancer Research Biorepository.

Dr. David Lebrun
College of Advisors Member
Dr. Leigh Murphy
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. Lynne Postovit
College of Advisors Member
Dr. Brent Schacter
College of Advisors Member
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. 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. She completed her PhD in 2014, mainly investigating biomarkers in ovarian carcinoma,. 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). Effective January 2014, Dr. Trudel commences clinical practice as a clinician scientist at the CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal).

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. Zhaolin Xu
College of Advisors Member
Rebecca Barnes
Program Leader

Rebecca Barnes is the Program Leader for CTRNet. She is responsible for helping with strategic planning and for overseeing some of CTRNet's current initiatives, including ATiM. Rebecca has worked in a project management capacity for a number of large, complex health research projects for the past ten years, successfully seeing these through the entire project life cycle. She has worked in health research and biobanking for nearly 15 years, in various positions that relate to establishing research infrastructure within ethical, privacy, safety, and other regulatory requirements, such as biobanking and participant engagement. In addition to her CTRNet role, Rebecca works at the University of Victoria as the Director of the Office of the Vice-President Research. The common thread for her various roles has been the enhancement of research capacity through sustainable and standardized systems and processes. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and a Master's degree (Environmental Toxicology/Carcinogenesis).

Nicolas Luc
ATiM Project Leader

Nicolas Luc 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 Biobank Leader, Tumour Tissue Repository, BC Cancer Agency and a Project Manager for UBC Office of Biobank Education and Research. She is responsible for the education and certification programs offered by the Biobank Resource center. She is an active member of the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) Education and Training Committee and the ISBER 2014 Annual meeting Organizing Advisory Committee. She was the project manager for the BC BioLibrary and also spent ten years managing national clinical trials for academic researchers.

Lise Matzke
Project Manager, Biobank Resource Centre

Lise is the Biobank Resource Centre (BRC) Project Manager at the UBC Office of Biobank Education and Research. She is responsible for developing biobank tools and templates for the BRC as well as providing biobank support including consulting services. Lise has participated in technical, research and administrative aspects of biobanking for over a decade and her activities have focused on basic, clinical, translational, forensic and archaeological focused biospecimen research. Lise is a member of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) Education and Training Committee; Canadian Association of Pathology (CAP) and Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA).

Simon Dee
IT Project Manager

Simon Dee leads the application platform and services development for BC Cancer Agency's next-generation Bio-banking platform. He has experience in building technically challenging web-based applications and services. He has implemented the TTR (Tumour Tissue Repository) Information Systems Architecture and has also provided a cutting edge solution to support the BC Cancer Agency TTR Database Repository initiative of storing patient clinical data, pathologist annotations, outcomes, and specimen inventories for cancer research. This solution will be groundbreaking in supporting and directing new research initiatives as well as allow the exploration of data mining not possible in the past.

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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