Student Achievements

Student Profiles 2011

BCCGN Student Awards 2011

Eric Zhao, Peter Wang, Chelsea Fauth
BCCGN’s 2011 summer students are already encountering success beyond their BCCGN award. Eric Zhao’s experience helped shape his future plans: “My current career goal is an MD/PHD in Bioinformatics or a Medical Genetics field,” says Eric, who continued his work on “Identifying genomic causes of mental retardation,” in the Friedman Lab during the fall of 2011 as a work study student. Peter Wang and Chelsea Fauth both had opportunities to present their research more widely. Peter presented on “Clinical and gene signatures of autism spectrum disorders,” in a poster for the MedGEN Research day and the CMMT Scientific Symposium. He says that the BCCGN award “has been one of the most educational and enjoyable processes of my green academic career.” Chelsea presented her research on ‘Genomic signatures that discriminate early from dual responses in allergic asthma and rhinitis subjects after allergen challenge,’at the James Hogg Research Center. Chelsea says “I had the best experience and learned more than I thought I could in the summer; BCCGN made that possible.”

BCCGN Faculty of Medicine SSRP Awards 2011

Namrata Jhamb and Jay Wang
Namrata Jhamb and Jay Wang are medical students at UBC. They received this award from BCCGN’s partnership with UBC’s Faculty of Medicine which provided them with funding to do research in the area of clinical genomics. Jay’s research on “Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the complement factor H (CFH) gene in eye tissues,” was so sucessful it led him to submit an abstract for the ARVO conference in March 2012. Namrata presented her research om “Genetic obesity disorders: visceral fat and biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk,” at the CFRI Research Day. She is now writing a piece for the UBC Medical Journal based on her summer study. She also continued her work with BCCGN this fall as a judge for the 2011 Gene Screen BC competition and hopes to work with BCCGN in the future.

CFRI Summer Students 2011

Emma Broderick
Emma was able to present the research she did with CMMT and UBC, ‘Nicotine driven DNA methylation modifications’ at the CFRI Research Day this summer. “The CFRI program was very well organized and the required power point presentation and poster day were very valuable experiences and excellent practice for the future. I would certainly recommend the program to anyone interested in gaining some insight about what life is like as a scientific researcher. My post doc, Dr. Jennifer Wilking, was an excellent mentor and taught me more than I could have imagined.” Although she did not produce data from her project, she optimized protocols for future research projects.

Student Profiles 2010

CFRI Summer Students 2010

Gareth Evans
Gareth’s project was titled ‘Targeting aurora kinase A (AURKA) in aggessive familial breast cancers that affect young women.’ A paper coauthored by Gareth, reporting on the findings of this study, was accepted by PLos Biology in September 2011. The paper is called ‘Interplay between BRCA1 and RHAMM regulates epithelial apicobasal polarization and may influence risk of breast cancer.’ Gareth finished his BSc in Microbiology at UVic. He is currently a medical student at UBC and “[he] can already see that [his] knowledge of genetics that [he] gained during [his] undergraduate degree and [his] summer project with BCCGN will serve [him] well during [his] medical training.”

Sarah Konefal
Sarah’s project in the spring of 2010 was called ‘Biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles: functional characterization of novel AP-3 regulators identified by genomic screening in yeast.’ Since that time, Sarah and a few others presented a similarly themed poster: “Functional characterization of novel AP-3 regulators identified by genomic screening” at the Genetics Society of America “Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology” meeting, July 27-August 1, 2010 in Vancouver. She is currently a graduate student in the Neuroscience program at McGill university, studying the role of cytokine-mediated synaptic plasticity in animal models of psychiatric disorders. “Of course genetics is important for almost all fields of biology, so I still use genetic approaches today… Actually, I will soon be doing a screen to look at global changes in gene expression in neurons and glia following certain changes in synaptic plasticity.”

Xiao Yu (Cindy) Zhang
On top of winning the BCCGN award, Cindy had her CFRI Research Day poster, ‘Pharmacogenomics and Regulatory Sequence Variation Analysis,’ abstract selected for the 2010 Symposium of Canadian Hospital Pharmacy. Unfortunately, due to scheduling concerns, she was not able to present. Despite that, Cindy says her “2010 summer project with BCCGN was a precious experience. The project has allowed me to work with experts at the frontier of genome bioinformatics. I am especially thankful for my dedicated Principle Investigators Dr. Wyeth. W Wasserman and Dr. Virginie Bernard who have generously shared their profound knowledge and provided excellent guidance all through my project.” She continued her work this summer on a project that also studied the three important transcription factors that have significant medical implications such as angiogensis in tumor development. She hopes these secondary research objectives will be followed up as she believes they’re worth further investigation.

BCCGN Student Award 2010

Scott Brown
Scott received this award to work on a project entitled ‘Detection of polymorphisms in regulatory regions isolated by the formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements (FAIRE) technique.’ His work has since been used by others in the field. Loubna Akhabir, a PHD student in Andrew Sandford’s lab, has used the FAIRE results in her studies and is presenting at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting this month. Additionally, Aabida Saferali, a research technician in the Sandford lab, has used the FAIRE DNA in her studies of CF modifiers. Scott completed a co-op position at the GSC in the summer of 2011 (in the Holt lab) and is currently completing a joint-major in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Computing Science at SFU. He says ” I definitely have a lifelong interest in genetics!”

Valerie Taylor
In the spring of 2010, Valerie was awarded funds by BCCGN to work University of Victoria under Dr. Arbor on an ‘Investigation of the genetic factors contributing to the high rate of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) in first nations people of the pacific northwest coast.’ Beyond BCCGN, she was able to present her work at Genetics Rounds at Victoria General Hospital “The funding from BCCGN” she says, “certainly did increase my interest in genetics! I enjoyed the project so much that I applied for other funding to return to Dr. Arbour’s group this past summer. This summer I was able to help complete the second phase of the project – analyzing the SNP linkage data – that wasn’t available the first summer I worked there.” Now Valerie has graduated from UVic with a BSc in Microbiology. She is working as a laboratory assistant for BCMB 406, a laboratory course at UVic in biochemistry and microbiology. This year, she applied to medical school and is hoping to attend starting in September 2012.

Student Profiles 2009

BCCGN Student Award 2010

Allison Wallace
In May 2009, Allison won the BCCGN award, allowing her to work with icapture on a project titled ‘Sequencing a cigarette smoke element within the matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP1) promoter.’ Since then, in in May 2011, Allison presented at the American Thoracic Society International conference on the ‘Characterization of the MMP-1 Cigarette Smoke Responsive Region.’ She is currently working on a manuscript for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine which she will be submitting it in November 2011. Allison is now a general surgery resident at UBC.

Pierre Cheung
With his Student Award, Pierre worked at the BC Cancer Agency on ‘Genomic analysis of uridine monophosphate synthetase reveals novel mRNA isoforms associated with fluorouracil resistance in colorectal cancer,’ He is now working on a manuscript for the study and is employed at the BC Genome Sciences Centre.

CFRI Summer Students 2009

Paul Atkins
Paul Atkins, a student that was sponsored by the BC Clinical Genomics Network to do a summer studentship at CFRI, was celebrated at the CFRI Student Awards. He was awarded third place in the Basic Science Category for his project entitled ‘An investigation of the role of estrogen receptor beta in human cognition.’ He later presented this project to the Children and Women’s Hospital Medical Genetics Journal Club, Boerkoel lab and for the CFRI Summer Students. Since then, in the summer of 2010, Paul received an NSERC grant to work on a project, also pertaining to genetics, at Queen’s University. He is currently on a one year academic exchange to Germany (studying German and Biochemistry/Genetics at the University of Tübingen). He will be starting Schulich School of Medicine in London, Ontario in Fall of 2012.

Anna Sinova
Anna Sinova, another student sponsored by BCCGN to do a summer studentship at CFRI in 2009, received an honorable mention at the CFRI Student Awards in the the Basic Science category for her project “Candidate genes underlying autism spectrum disorders.”


  • Allison Wallace presented a poster : CHARACTERIZATION OF THE MMP-1 CIGARETTE SMOKE RESPONSIVE REGION at the American Thoracic Society International conference in May 2011
  • Valerie Taylor’s research was presented at ICHG by a senior research associate
  • Lu Li presented a poster at Genome BC’s 9th Annual Genomics Forum 2011- Research Exchange & Poster Competition
  • Sarah Konefal presented a poster: “Functional characterization of novel AP-3 regulators identified by genomic screening” Sarah Konefal, Mike Davey, Helen Burston, Elizabeth Conibear at (The Genetics Society of America “Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology” meeting, July 27-August 1, 2010, Vancouver
  • Cindy Zhang had a poster abstract selected for the 2010 Symposium of Canadian Hospital Pharmacy
  • Peter Wang presented posters at the UBC Med Gen Research Day and the CMMT Scientific Symposium: Frontiers of Genetic Medicine
  • Katherine Santos planned to present her poster at the BC Cancer poster day
  • Jay Wang submitted an abstract for the ARVO conference in March 2012


  • Valerie Taylor presented at Genetics Rounds at Victoria General Hospital
  • Namrata Jhamb provided two presentations at medical Genetics Rounds – 1) A Case of Peripheral Neuropathy in a Patient with a Rare Genetic Disorder and 2) Whole-Exome Sequencing with Candidate Gene Filtering in a Patient with Congenital Cataracts and Neuropathy
  • Eric Zhao  Gave three presentations: 1) “Identifying disease-causal genes using Semantic Web-based representation of integrated genomic and phenomic knowledge” which he gave to the Friedman lab journal club and 2 & 3) “Variant prioritization for the investigation of genetic variants causing cognitive disability by the development of an interactive bioinformatics research platform” which he presented to the Friedman lab group and to the CFRI Summer Student program
  • Chelsea Fauth presented her project to the JHRC


  • Gareth Evans   CA Maxwell*, J Benítez, L Gómez-Baldó, A Osorio, N Bonifaci, R Fernández-Ramires, SV Costes, E Guinó, H Chen, GJR Evans, P Mohan, I Català, MH Barcellos-Hoff, M Vidal, SB Gruber, C Lázaro, SE Dunn, G Capellá, L McGuffog, KL Nathanson, AC Antoniou, G Chenevix-Trench, MC Fleisch, V Moreno, MA Pujana*. Interplay between BRCA1 and RHAMM regulates epithelial apicobasal polarization and may influence risk of breast cancer. PLoS Biology ( accepted Sept 23, 2011).
  • Roozbeth Ahmadi’s project produced one paper: Gorman, K. F., Christians, J. K., Parent, J., Ahmadi, R., Dreyer, C., Weigel, D., and F. Breden.  2011.  A major QTL controls susceptibility to spinal curvature in the curveback guppy.  BMC Genetics 12:16.  PMC3039624
  • Allison Wallce is currently working on a manuscript for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care.
  • Pierre Cheung’s group has produced a paper
  • Valerie Taylor’s group is currently working on a manuscript
  • Peter Wang’s group is currently working on a manuscript

To see a complete listing of our awards and award winners, click here.