Dr. Laurie Ailles

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ailles got her B.Sc. in Biology at Carleton University (Ottawa), an M.Sc. in Pathology at Queen’s University (Kingston), and her Ph.D. in Genetics at the University of British Columbia (Hogge Lab, Terry Fox Labs). She then did a post-doc at the Candiolo Cancer Institute (Naldini Lab) in Turin, Italy, and a second post-doc at Stanford University (Weissman Lab). She came to Toronto to join the research faculty at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 2008. Throughout her research career her interests have been focused on stem cell and cancer stem cell biology, and the use of patient-derived models to study cancer.

Dr. Christina Karamboulas

Scientific Associate

Christina obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in the field of cardiac muscle development and continued her work in this area as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa. She then joined the lab of Dr. Ailles as a post-doctoral fellow investigating the role of cancer stem cells in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC). Christina has contributed to the generation, molecular profiling, and pre-clinical testing of HNSCC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models; a model system that has expanded over the years to become an invaluable resource. Christina’s current work involves the use of PDX models for the discovery of more accurate prognostic biomarkers and the assessment of personalized treatments. 

Jalna Meens

Lab Manager/ Research Technician

Jalna originally trained in Veterinary Technology at St. Lawrence College. After graduating in 2002 she worked as a research technician at Queen’s University where she was involved in many research projects and developed expertise in various imaging platforms, including confocal imaging, flow cytometry, ultrasound, and intra-vital live animal imaging.  She then became an Imaging Technician with the Queens Biomedical Imaging Center.  At the same time, she earned a degree in Environmental Science.  She joined the Ailles lab in 2013 and has become an expert at working with patient material and PDX models, as well as providing expert support for lab members in all aspects of their work.

Dr. Ngoc Bui

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ngoc received her B.S. in Biotechnology and M.S. in Genetics from Ho Chi Minh University of Science, Vietnam. She completed her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Elsa Flores at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where she focused on deciphering the roles of p63, a transcription factor of the p53 family, in tumorigenesis and metastasis.  In the Ailles lab, Ngoc is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of how cancer-associated fibroblasts contribute to the progression of high-grade serous ovarian cancer and identifying novel compounds targeting epigenetic machineries to treat ovarian cancer.

Dr. Kunal Karve

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kunal received his Ph.D in Biochemistry and Molecular biology from the University of Calgary. His thesis research project explored novel mechanisms that regulate Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in breast cancer. With his continued interest in cancer research, Kunal joined the lab of Dr. Allies as a post-doctoral fellow. Currently, his research focuses on establishing high-throughput 3D-spheroid invasion assay drug screens targeting tumor-microenvironment (cancer-associated fibroblasts) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Kunal is also involved in establishing patient-derived organoid models for HNSCC.

Joe Walton

Ph.D. Candidate

Joe completed a B.Sc. in Biochemistry at McMaster University and went on to graduate studies in Biotechnology and Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto.  He has worked in a diversity of fields including management consulting, pharmaceutical marketing at Astra Zeneca, and as a physical therapist. A love of science and a strong desire to pursue a research career inspired Joe to return for doctoral studies in the Medical Biophysics department at the University of Toronto.  His current work focuses on understanding and determining the utility of novel epigenetic-based therapies in Kidney Cancer, specifically the potential therapeutic effects of inhibiting arginine methylation in this disease.

Stephanie Poon

Ph.D. Candidate

Stephanie completed her Honours B.Sc at the University of Toronto in the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology specialist program with an additional major in Immunology. She is continuing her studies at the University of Toronto as a Ph.D Candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics. Her current work focuses on further characterizing the role of carcinoma-associated fibroblasts in tumour cell invasion, specifically in the context of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Rita Gill

Research Technician

Rita completed her undergraduate education in Biochemistry and Physics at Brock University and subsequently pursued graduate studies at the University of Toronto, where she investigated the use of mesenchymal stromal cells and their derivatives as an anti-inflammatory agent. In the Ailles lab, she works in various projects involving HNSCC patient derived xenograft models.

Karen Arevalo

Ph.D. Candidate

Karen completed her Honours B.Sc. at McMaster University in the Integrated Science program and concentrated in the Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour stream. During her undergrad, she developed a passion for cancer biology and decided to pursue this field by working for a Ph.D. in the Medical Biophysics program at the University of Toronto. Her current work focuses on understanding and exploiting the effects of inhibiting PRMT1 in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.

Angel Ng

Ph.D. Candidate

Angel completed her B.Sc. and MPhil in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Before joining the Ailles lab as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics, she worked on characterizing dysregulated signaling cascades driving tumorigenesis in breast cancer. Her current work focuses on investigating the functional role of cancer-associated fibroblasts in the development of chemoresistance in ovarian cancer.