Cancer metabolism & immunology

Goodman Cancer Research Centre | Department of Physiology | McGill University

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Lab opportunities

Anyone wishing to pursue research at the undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral level should send their CV and interest to Dr. Russell Jones by email.

Current lab members

Principal Investigator


Russell Jones
Ph.D. Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry, University of Toronto

Research: Dr. Jones has over 18 years of research experience with expertise in Immunology and Cancer Biology. His current focus is on the influence of cellular metabolism on immune function and cancer progression.

Expertise: Immunometabolism, oncometabolism, cancer immunology, and using metabolomics to answer biological problems.

Research staff


Bozena Samborska, Research Assistant
M.Sc. Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry (Co-op), University of Guelph

Research: Research and project support mainly in the area of cancer cell metabolism.

Expertise: Cancer cell metabolic assays, protein biochemistry, molecular biology, CRISPR/Cas9, and assay development. Bozena has previously studied protein-protein interactions and protein structure/function using FRET based assays and crystallography. She has both academic and industry experience, including pharmaceutical assay development and drug screening, lab management, and confectionery product development.


Jaclyn Chabot, Lab Manager
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry, Carleton University

Research: Lab management and cell based research projects in cancer metabolism.

Expertise: Acquired expertise from the private sector, academia, and public sector in the areas of cell biology, tissue culture and cell based assays, cancer immunology, genomics, neuroimmunology, drug discovery and pre-clinical development, as well as some experience in pharmaceutical sales.


Radia Johnson, Research Associate (Bioinformatician)
Ph.D. Immunology, University of Toronto
B.Sc. Honours Immunology, McGill University

Research: Research scientist and bioinformatician who specializes in immunology and cancer biology. Radia routinely uses R and other programming languages to analyze and integrate biological data to understand the molecular changes that contribute to immune cell function and cancer development.

Expertise: Oncology, hematology, immunology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, R programming, flow cytometry

Postdoctoral Fellows


Maya Poffenberger
Ph.D. Immunology, University of British Columbia
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry and Microbiology (Co-op), University of Victoria

Research: Inflammation associated tumours. Maya is interested in how mutations in the serine/threonine kinase LKB1 lead to increased inflammation and tumour development. She aims to determine the mechanism by which LKB1 mutations lead to dysregulated production of inflammatory mediators in the hopes to prevent and/or treat mut-LKB1 dependent tumours such as those observed in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.

Expertise: Hamartomatous polyp development, LKB1-dependent regulation of inflammation, inflammation associated tumours, viral-induced autoimmunity

Funding: Canderel Fellowship; FRSQ Postdoctoral Fellowship; CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship


Lisa Kellenberger
Ph.D. Biomedical Science, University of Guelph
B.Sc. Honours Life Sciences, Queen's University

Research: Ovarian cancer metabolism. Lisa is interested in how the metabolism of transformed cells adapts to changes in glucose and amino acid availability, and how these cells interact with the tumour microenvironment to survive starvation conditions. She hopes to compare how cell cultures, organoid cultures, and in vivo models can be best used to understand these interactions.

Expertise: Ovarian cancer, oncometabolism, glucose transport, systemic and micro-environmental effects on tumour development, tumour angiogenesis, diabetes

Funding: Charlotte and Leo Karassik Foundation Oncology Postdoctoral Fellowship


Dominic Roy
Ph.D. Biochemistry - Human and Molecular Genetics, University of Ottawa
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry (Co-op), University of Ottawa

Research: T cell metabolism. Dominic is interested in how cellular metabolism affects T cell development and function, with a focus on anti-tumour immunity and T cell exhaustion. He hopes to characterize the metabolic state of exhausted T cells and to identify metabolic networks that contribute to the development and survival of exhausted T cells, with the goal of identifying strategies to reinvigorate T cell function.

Expertise: Oncolytic viruses, cancer therapeutics, RNAi screens, immunotherapy.

Funding: FRSQ Postdoctoral Fellowship

PhD students


Said Izreig
B.M.Sc. Honours Medical Science, University of Western Ontario

Research: Said's work focuses on how the microRNA cluster miR-17~92 coordinates metabolic reprogramming in lymphoma.

Expertise: Lymphoma metabolism, small RNA biology, metabolomics, in vivo drug dosing

Funding: Cole Foundation Fellowship; FRSQ Doctoral Award


Takla Griss
B.Sc. Honours, McGill University

Research: Senior Ph.D. student interested in studying metabolic adaptations of cancer cells to different stresses, including chemotherapeutic drugs and limiting environments.

Expertise: Metabolomics analysis with GC-MS/LC-MS and stable isotope tracer analysis (SITA)

Funding: MICRTP; FRSQ Doctoral Award


Eric Ma
B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry, McGill University

Research: T cell metabolism and in vivo T cell stable-isotope tracing. Eric is interested in the metabolic pathways essential for T cell activation and function, with a focus on serine/one-carbon metabolism for T effector cell function. Through understanding the metabolic pathways essential for optimal T cell function, he hopes to develop better cancer immunotherapies and potential metabolic targets to combat autoimmunity.

Expertise: GC/LC-MS, T cell metabolism, one-carbon metabolism, stable-isotope tracer analysis (SITA), flow cytometry, listeria monocytogenes infection model, IV injection.

Funding: MICRTP; FRSQ Doctoral Award


Rebecca Raboinovitch
B.Sc. Honours Biology, University of Ottawa

Research: Metabolism of late-stage cancers. Rebecca is interested in the metabolic adaptations undergone by cancer cells in order to metastasize and evade chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. She aims to characterize the metabolic mechanisms behind these processes in order to elucidate new potential avenues of treatment for advanced tumours.

Expertise: Oncometabolism, chemoresistance, AMPK regulation and activity, metabolic adaptation in specialized invertebrate tissues.

Funding: MICRTP; Richard Birks Physiology Fellowship; CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's)

Masters students


Ali Gariépy
B.Sc. Honours Biology, Queen's University

Research: The effects of miR17~92 on the metabolic program of B cell lymphomas. Ali is interested in how upregulation of miR17~92 promotes tumor aggressiveness in lymphoma. She aims to determine the mechanism by which miR17~92 modulates metabolism in support of malignancy and to identify new therapeutic avenues for treating lymphoma.

Expertise: microRNAs, Warburg metabolism, mTOR signaling, MYC-driven cancer, serine biosynthesis

Funding: MICRTP


Jocelyn Chen
B.Sc. McGill University

Research: Metabolic control of epigenetic modifications in T cells. Jocelyn is interested in the role of the methionine cycle in histone methylation in T cells. She aims to characterize functional and epigenetic differences in T cells in response to methionine availability and to understand CD4+ T cell lineage plasticity.

Expertise: T cell epigenetics, histone methylation, methionine cycle, one-carbon metabolism

Funding: MICRTP


Alison Wong
B.M.Sc. Honours Biochemistry, Western University

Research: Tumour immunology. Alison is interested in how T cell metabolism affects the ability of T cells to infiltrate into the tumour, and kill tumour cells. In particular, she is interested in the function of the energy sensor AMPK as it relates to T cell anti-tumour functions. She hopes to find ways to improve T cell anti-tumour immunity by targeting AMPK activity in T cells.

Expertise: T cell biology, cancer immunology, AMPK regulation and activity, flow cytometry

Funding: CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's)



Avi Metcalfe-Roach
B.Sc. (in progress) Honours Biochemistry (Co-op), University of Waterloo

Research: Research trainee working under Dr. Poffenberger. Avi is investigating the role of gut bacteria in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome development, and how increased levels of gastrointestinal bacteria may cause increased rates of polyposis as a result of chronic inflammation. He aims to elucidate the body's immune and inflammatory response over time as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome develops by characterizing immune cell activation and changes in cytokine and inflammatory gene expression.

Expertise: LKB1-dependent inflammation, AMPK deficiency in Treg cells, DNA and RNA based assays, tissue sample collection and analysis, histology slide analysis using Imagescope software.

Funding: CIHR and CCSRI Student Training Program; MICRTP Summer Studentship