CIBC Summer Research Assistantship Sponsors

The following is a list of CBS faculty who are looking for candidates to endorse for the CIBC summer research assistantships. Please read the faculty's research interests to see who may match with your personal and professional goals, prior to submitting your application to them. Students may approach other CBS faculty not listed on this page, who are conducting cancer related research however please note not all faculty are looking for summer research assistants. 

Department of Human Health and Nutritional Science

Dr. David Ma

My lab investigates the metabolism and biological role of fatty acids. Essential and long chain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are a primary focus and their involvement in cancer, brain health, fatty liver disease and exercise. Experimental model systems include knockout and transgenic mouse models and cell lines to examine mechanisms of action.  In addition, the role of fatty acids in human health are explored within the context of the Guelph Family Health Study, a cohort of 300+ families involving parents and young children to study and test interventions for the prevention of childhood obesity.

Dr. Lindsay Robinson

Obesity is associated with a state of chronic low-grade inflammation that contributes to whole-body metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance, as well as various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. Such chronic inflammation is partially driven by changes in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle immune cell populations, including macrophages and T cells. My lab is interested in understanding how such immune cells interact with adipocytes and myocytes in inflammatory processes involved in chronic disease states, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer.  In particular, we are investigating the role of bioactive nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and/or exercise in immune and inflammatory processes in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. We use both animal models and cell lines to study mechanisms of action. 

Dr. Jeremy Simpson

Fatigue is a common complaint among cancer patients, which reduces daily activity and quality of life.  Cancer-related fatigue is commonly associated with anemia, present in ~75% of cancer patients.  While recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) therapy is the most successful biopharmaceutical to correct anemia, several clinical trials using EPO in cancer patients have been stopped early because of increased mortality. The problem is that EPO also protects cancer cells making them resistant to chemotherapy. Our overall aim is to investigate a novel mechanism to treat anemia.  Our lab is working on a new biopharmaceutical that is able to correct anemia while not protecting cancer cells.  A summer student will be responsible for working with our team to help validate our new biopharmaceutical therapy.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Dr. Marc Coppolino

Tumour cell invasion through extracellular matrix (ECM) is required for cancers to spread, and is dependent upon partial degradation of ECM components by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) secreted by tumour cells.  A semester project is proposed to examine how the transport and targeted release of MMPs are regulated during invasion of ECM by breast cancer cells.  The project will involve experimentation using cultured tumour cell lines, expression of GFP-tagged proteins, and cell-based assays to assess cell invasion. 

Dr. Nina Jones

Multicellular organisms rely on signal transduction cascades to control important biological responses such as cell growth, differentiation and survival. Understanding the biochemical basis of these protein-protein interactions is of key importance in defining how particular mutations can contribute to pathological conditions such as cancer. In this summer research project, the student will aid in determining the signalling pathways that are mediated by several phosphotyrosine adaptor proteins by identifying the molecular components and biological functions associated with these proteins.  Techniques such as DNA cloning, PCR, bacterial and mammalian cell culture, protein purification, electrophoresis, immunohistochemistry and microscopy will be employed by the student.

Dr. Rod Merrill

Bacteria rely on virulence factors to facilitate diseases in plants, animals, and man. A recent, new strategy to combat infection in immunocompromised patients (cancer, burn, and AIDS) is to neutralize these factors by small molecule therapy, thereby helping to disarm the offending microbe rather than threaten its survival. Cell-based strategies for identifying and testing inhibitory compounds against virulence factors have the advantage of not requiring purification of the target protein, testing of inhibition in a cellular context, and selecting for compounds that possess useful pharmacokinetic properties. We recently identified a suite of compounds that function as potent in vitro inhibitors of mART toxins and these provide protection of both yeast and mammalian cells against DT-group mART toxins. These exciting results provide proof-of-principle that an inhibitor designed against mART toxins may be important for reducing the virulence of bacterial pathogens.  The summer student will work on this project alongside a postdoctoral researcher to develop new therapeutics for treating infections in immune-compromised patients, such as those suffering from cancer.

Dr. Jim Uniacke

Cancer is a complicated, multifactorial disease and the paths taken by cells en route to malignancy are highly variable. Yet, solid tumours share common features regardless of their tissue of origin or genetic makeup. These are referred to as the “tumour microenvironment” and include factors such as hypoxia (low oxygen availability), which has been linked to aggressive tumours and poor prognosis. My laboratory studies how cancer cells synthesize proteins in hypoxia, and how these unique protein synthesis machineries can be targeted in cancer therapy to selectively disable tumour cells, leaving normal oxygenated cells unharmed. The student will be using cultured tumour cell lines, biochemical techniques such as western blot and immunoprecipitation to measure protein-protein interactions, and 2D/3D cell-based assays to assess cell migration, invasion, and tumour formation.