Spencer Martin

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Tumour-specific therapeutic cancer vaccines
Brad Nelson and Rob Holt
Williams Lake
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I started undergrad at the University of Victoria with the purpose of attaining a PhD in biomedical research. During 4th year, I participated in an honours program at the Deeley Research Centre (DRC). I thoroughly enjoyed the project, the culture at the centre, and I found cancer research personally fulfilling. Therefore, I decided to continue with the same project and supervisor in a PhD graduate program.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

My project involves next generation DNA sequencing, and the Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver is one of the top sequencing facilities in the world. By attending grad school at UBC, I was able to work at the GSC under a co-supervior. UBC offered the flexibility to continue my research in Victoria at the DRC after my first year (and all of my classes) was finished.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

If successful, this project will pave the road to a new form of cancer treatment. As the cost of sequencing an entire human genome approaches the $1000 mark, I and others believe it will become feasible to routinely subject patients' tumours to genomic sequencing. The mutations identified by sequencing could be used to design personalized vaccines that trigger the patient's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells that have spread throughout the body.

What are your future career goals?

I have just completed my comprehensive exam to bypass a master's program and enter directly into a PhD program. Once I acquire a PhD degree, I intend to do a post-doc, possibly in sub-Saharan Africa. Eventually, I would like to return to North America to run my own lab.

What has been your most memorable Vancouver experience so far?

Having a world class beach within 5 minutes walk from my front door is incredible. The lab barbeques and social gatherings on the beaches overlooking a gorgeous bay, in the shadow of epic mountains is like a dream. When the weather is good in Vancouver, there is not a more beautiful city in the world.

Personal Interests / Hobbies

I am an avid soccer player. I play on multiple teams in multiple leagues. In addition, I enjoy playing volleyball at one of Vancouver's fantastic beaches. I also enjoy hiking through the many trails that surrounds the city.


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