MEDTalks | Cellular and Gene Therapies

Immerse yourself in the frontier of medical advancements with our UBC wide online panel dedicated to cellular and gene therapies. Join leading experts in the field from across the Faculties of Applied Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, and Pharmaceutical Sciences as they unravel the potential of these therapies in treating various diseases. From groundbreaking research to real-world applications, our panelists will share insights into the latest developments, challenges, and prospects in cellular and gene therapy. Engage in a thought-provoking discussion and discover the transformative impact of these therapies on the future of healthcare.

Moderator

Dr. Saranaz Barforoush (she/her) – Assistant Professor of Teaching and Coordinator of the Minor in Journalism and Social Change, School of Journalism, Writing and Media, UBC

Panelists

Dr. Hugh Kim, Dip. Perio’05, MSc’05 Associate Professor, UBC Faculty of Dentistry, Principal Investigator, Centre for Blood Research, UBC and Associate Member, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Alina Kunitskaya (she/her) – PhD Candidate, Michael Smith Laboratories, School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science and Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Dr. Colin Ross, BSc’93 (he/him/his) – Professor (tenure) and Interim Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC and Scientist, BC Children’s Hospital

Event Details

Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm PT
Location: Online

Registration deadline: February 26, 2024

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Saranaz Barforoush (she/her)

Assistant Professor of Teaching and Coordinator of the Minor in Journalism and Social Change, School of Journalism, Writing and Media, UBC

Saranaz Barforoush is a tenure-track assistant professor of teaching at the UBC School of Journalism. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2017 with her dissertation, “The Dictator & The Charmer: U.S News Media Coverage of Chinese and Iranian Leaders.” Her research interests include foreign affairs, international reporting ethics, political communication, implications of new media technology on foreign news reporting, immigrant, and framing studies.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Allameh Tabataba’i University in Iran, Dr. Barforoush worked as a reporter and translator for more than a decade in Tehran, where she reported on various subjects such as women’s issues, arts, culture and technology. She completed a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies and Media from the University of Tehran in 2008, where she studied the social effects in popular Iranian cinema before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

After moving to the United States in 2011, she earned a Master of Science degree from Southern Illinois University in 2011, where she wrote a thesis on the news production of Persian television channels broadcast from Britain and the United States. She also worked as a public relations officer for SIUE’s School of Business and its Emergency Operation Center.

At UBC, Dr. Barforoush has co-taught courses on integrated journalism, new media and society, social media and international reporting. She is affiliated Bachelor of Media Studies faculty.

Dr. Hugh Kim, Dip. Perio’05, MSc’05 

Associate Professor, UBC Faculty of Dentistry, Principal Investigator, Centre for Blood Research, UBC and Associate Member, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Hugh Kim is a periodontist (DMD, Université de Montréal; M.Sc./Dip. Perio., UBC) and clinician-scientist (Ph.D., University of Toronto; postdoc, Harvard) with fundamental research interests in platelet physiology. Dr. Kim is appointed to a research-intensive academic position in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with a cross-appointment to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Kim's laboratory is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Michael Smith Health Research BC, and is part of the UBC Centre for Blood Research (CBR).

Alina Kunitskaya (she/her)

PhD Candidate, Michael Smith Laboratories, School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science and Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Alina Kunitskaya holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary and is currently a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering in the Piret Lab at UBC. Alina’s bioprocess engineering research aims to improve economical manufacturing of safe and effective cell-based therapies. This includes developing tailored manufacturing technologies and improving process understanding. Outside of her PhD, Alina volunteers at SEDS-Canada (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space), working to provide post-secondary students with hands-on experiences in the Canadian space sector. She enjoys running, hiking, and martial arts.

Dr. Colin Ross, BSc’93 (he/him/his)

Professor (tenure) and Interim Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC and Scientist, BC Children’s Hospital

Colin Ross is a Professor, and currently the interim Associate Dean of Research at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia and a Scientist at BC Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Ross’ expertise spans pharmacogenetics, genomics, drug development, drug safety, adverse drug reactions, predictive genetics, and genetic/clinical factors of drug response. Ross Lab researchers investigate the genetic basis of disease and severe adverse drug reactions using genomics-guided precision medicine approaches to help make drugs safer, improve disease diagnosis, and develop new, targeted therapeutics.

Dr. Ross’ research capitalizes upon national and international collaborations with clinicians, researchers and industry partners. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety (CPNDS), a nation-wide collaborative network of researchers. He currently holds a leadership role on the network’s executive steering committee.

Dr. Ross has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, a New Investigator award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a Champions of Genetics Award from the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation, the Boehringer-Ingelheim Award in Pharmacology Research from the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the Excellence in Research Award from the American Society of Gene Therapy.