Fall 2020 CSMB Newsletter

October 2, 2020

Message from the President

Dear CSMB Members,

Imogen R CoeI was honoured to take over from Dr. Tarik Moroy as President of CSMB in July. I am grateful to Dr. Moroy for his leadership over the last couple of years and his continued wise counsel as Past-President.  I also welcome Dr.Hans-Joachim Wieden (University of Lethbridge) as Vice-President. The change in CSMB Presidents coincided with the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic which has challenged the lives of all Canadians and impacted the research enterprise in unprecendented ways.  This crisis has also shown how important of science, research, evidence and data are in informing policy as provincial and federal governments effectively (or perhaps ineffectively) respond to this major health crisis.

The CSMB Advocacy and Communications Committee convened in Ottawa last February, just before the global pandemic announcement and lockdown, to meet with policy makers across the political spectrum on Parliament Hill to advocate in support of science.  Our voice was further heard when Dr. Tarik Moroy was invited, on behalf of CSMB, to present to the Standing Committee on Health, with respect to the government’s response to COVID-19 in May. We  are committed to continuing these activities on behalf of CSMB members – see details on the Advocacy and Communications Committee update.

We acknowledge and thank the many CSMB members who have scaled up their research activities, under very challenging circumstances, in response to calls, and supported by targeted funding, for accelerated understanding of the virus and the human cellular response, as well rapid development therapeutic options for treatment and prevention.  We acknowledge the burden and stress that other CSMB members have experienced as research activities were shut down or scaled back. We recognize the concerns about research productivity and career trajectories for our members and their trainees and will continue to advocate to the funding agencies on our members behalf.

As a leading organization in promoting the importance of fundamental science in informing policy, we are proud to announce the organization of the panel “Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Science Societies in informing Policy: Lessons & Observations from Around the World” at the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference (https://sciencepolicyconference.ca/program-2020/).  CSMB President, Dr. Imogen Coe, will lead an international panel of science society presidents to discuss the role of an academic science society in policy. Participants include Dr. Charles Bourque (McGill University) President of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience, Dr. Stephen Heard (University of New Brunswick), President of the Canadian Association of Ecology and Evolution and Dr. Shohini Ghose (Wilfrid Laurier University), President of the Canadian Association of Astronomy and Physics along with Dr. Hilary Lappin-Scott, President of Federation of European Microbiological Societies and Dr. Susan Amara, President of American Association for the Advancement of Science. This panel was proposed before the full impact of COVID19 was felt in Canada but will prove to be timely as we share information and observations with respect to the relationship between scientists and policy-makers in Canada, Europe and the US.  Please consider attending the virtual CSPC Conference for interesting discussions.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of the 2020 CSMB awards, and invite you to read their profile below – they are truly inspiring researchers.

We are hard at work planning our next meetings & opportunities to network. Our upcoming meetings, which will take place virtually, including the Life Sciences Career Expo, and the “Protein Homeostasis in Health and Disease”. These will be great opportunities for career development, sharing scientific data and networking. More details below.

The CSMB continues to grow as a vibrant, forward-looking national organization representing life scientists and researchers across Canada.  It is a community that has stepped up to recent challenges for a stronger Canada.  Please feel free to reach out to me with comments, concerns and ideas and continue follow us on social media. Stay engaged and take care!

Imogen R. Coe

President of the CSMB


2019 CSMB Bulletin now available

csmbbulletin2019Read the latest edition of the CSMB Bulletin, now available on our website.

Read it to learn more about your representatives on the CSMB board, our latest Annual General Meeting, our Financial Statements, our meetings, trainee committee activities, award winners, CSMB-sponsored events, and for updates from all our member departments across Canada.

Thank you to bulletin editor Dr. Frances Sharom for putting together the Bulletin again this year!


Advocacy & Communications Committee Update

CSMB submits a brief for Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations in advance of the 2021 budget

Read CSMB’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance for Pre-Budget Consultations in advance of the 2021 budget:

Boosting Investment in Scientific Research: An Important Piece for Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Readiness for Future Challenges

Panel led by CSMB at the Canadian Science Policy Conference -November 17.

We invite you to register for the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference, which will take place online, November 16-20, 2020.

CSMB has put together the panel:
Title: Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Science Societies in informing Policy: Lessons & Observations from Around the World
Date & Time: 8:30 am – 10:00 am Tuesday, November 17


  • Stephen B. Heard President, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, Professor at the University of New Brunswick
  • Charles Bourque President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, Professor in the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery, McGill University
  • Hilary Lappin-Scott President, Federation of European Microbiology Societies (FEMS)
  • Imogen R. Coe President of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, Professor of Chemistry and Biology, Faculty of Science, Ryerson University
  • Shohini Ghose President of the Canadian Association of Physicists,  Professor of Physics and Computer Science, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Susan Amara Scientific Director; Intramural Research Program , National Institute of Mental Health

A full description of the panel, and of the speakers can be found on the CSPC website:



Meeting of the Advocacy & Communications committee – October 1, 2020

The first meeting of the Advocacy & Communications committee took place on October 1, 2020. It was an opportunity to discuss the recent Throne Speech by the Prime Minister, the new leader of the opposition, and the general current political climate, and  how to adapt our advocacy efforts to the evolving situation.

The CSMB advocacy team is developing a strategy to engage with the government over the coming months. Stay tuned for more information and calls to action coming your way soon!

Advocacy reading list

Here are some readings of interest:

Also make sure you read this article, by Farah Qaiser, in Forbes:

Virologist Michael Houghton Is One Of The 2020 Nobel Prize In Medicine Recipients Where she explains why Houghton turned down the Gairdner award in 2013, a few years after joining the University of Alberta.

Reappointment of Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer

Mona NemerThe CSMB applauds the recent announcement by the Prime Minister of the renewal of the role of Chief Science Advisor, and the reappointment of Dr. Mona Nemer to this position.

We invite you to read the Chief Science Advisor Annual Report 2019-20 released on October 6th.

Dr. Mona Nemer is a well-respected member of our community, who was awarded the CSMB Arthur Wynne Gold Medal in 2018. We are proud to have her represent the voice of scientists to the government.

Dr. Nemer is very committed to young scientists. CSMB Trainee committee member Farah Qaiser is a member of the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council.

Here are a few images of Dr. Nemer at the CSMB 2018 meeting in Banff.


Update from the CSMB Trainee Committee

Recently, the trainee committee has been working on new initiatives to support trainees.

New outreach oppportunity: Gairdner awards

Are you interested in science outreach? Would you like to build your skills and connect with students?

We are excited to invite you to participate in a new initiative. In partnership with the Gairdner Foundation and Michael Smith Laboratories, the CSMB has commissioned a set of articles, zines, and videos to showcase the work of this year’s Gairdner Award winners.

With your help, we would like to introduce this content to as many high school science classrooms as we can. This is an opportunity to talk about your own research and briefly highlight the work of a Gairdner Award winner.

We’ll provide an informal webinar (tentatively scheduled the week of October 19) with Dr. David Ng, a Professor of Teaching with the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC. He’ll chat about the best ways to approach teachers, templates for your classroom session, and tips and tricks on facilitating discussions.

Please fill out our form to express your interest: https://forms.gle/h8BM9kSu49WX5dJr7

New twitter account

We recently started a new twitter page to promoter trainees’ work and highlight opportunities you may be interested in. Follow us @CSMB_Trainees. And if you have a paper, conference, interview, activity you’re running or anything else that might be interesting for the molecular bioscience community send us a message so we can tweet about it!

Webinar series in preparation

We are also working on a series of webinars for trainees which will be held throughout the 2020-2021 year in collaboration with Ryerson Career & Co-op Centre and Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium. The webinars will cover topics such as writing effective CVs, grant writing from an EDI perspective and careers beyond the lab. Keep your eyes open for links to register!

We are also happy to welcome a new member to the CSMB Trainee committee: Léonie Frigon, from Université de Montréal.

Update from the Membership and Diversity Committee

NEW MEMBERSHIP: New criteria for recently graduated undergraduate students for 2020-2022

CSMB recognizes the challenges COVID-19 has caused for many of our undergraduate and graduate students and we appreciate the uncertainty associated with your “next step”.  We believe that continued engagement with the Canadian scientific community will has lasting benefits beyond COVID-19.  Memberships criteria for students enrolled in their programs has not changed, however, we are now expanding our membership requirements to include undergraduate students and graduate students that have recently graduated from their University program.  Please see changes to Student Membership: https://csmb-scbm.ca/membership/

Student Membership (2 year membership $25). This membership category is for Canadian or International students undertaking undergraduate or graduate degrees in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology or Genetics at a Canadian educational institution. Undergraduate and graduate students that have graduated or will graduate with proof of graduation (May 2020-October 2021) are encouraged to join. It is also applicable to Canadian/landed immigrant undergraduate and graduate students studying in these areas abroad.

2020 CSMB Award winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 CSMB awards!

CSMB New Investigator Award: Dr. Greg Fairn

Greg Fairn - image source: St-Michael's HospitalStaff Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto; Associate Professor, Departments of Surgery and Biochemistry, University of Toronto

Greg Fairn received his Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in 2007 after studying yeast genetics, lipid biochemistry, and cell biology in the lab of Dr. Chris McMaster in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He then moved to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to work with Dr. Sergio Grinstein. His postdoctoral work focused on macrophage biology, phagocytosis, cell polarity, and advanced microscopy. Dr. Fairn’s research program continues to focus on lipid and membrane biochemistry and its importance to cell biology and physiology. Ongoing projects involve studying the role of ER-phagosome contact sites, phagocytosis of pathogens and apoptotic cells, protein lipidation, membrane nanodomains, and vesicular trafficking. These processes are studied in the context of heart disease, cancer biology, infection and inflammation. Previously, Dr. Fairn received the Walter Shaw Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, an Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Innovation Ontario, and a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Dr. Fairn’s research is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and previously by the J.P. Bickell Foundation and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging.

Canadian Science Publishing Senior Investigator Award: Dr. Daniel Durocher

Daniel Durocher - Photo credit: Matthew Plexman PhotographySenior Investigator and Director of the Biomedical Program, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute; Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto; Thomas Kierans Chair in Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer Development; Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular Genetics of the DNA Damage Response

Dr. Durocher grew up near MontrĂ©al and obtained a B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry at UniversitĂ© de MontrĂ©al before graduating with a Ph.D. degree in Experimental Medicine from McGill University. Dr. Durocher undertook his post-doctoral training and established his group at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, where he has been ever since. Dr. Durocher’s overarching interest lies in understanding how cells maintain genome integrity, with an emphasis on the detection, signalling and repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Dr. Durocher has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2015 Paul Marks Prize from Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Dr. Durocher also co-founded Repare Therapeutics, an oncology drug discovery company that aims to discover new drugs based on the principle of synthetic lethality that target genome instability in cancer based in MontrĂ©al.

Jeanne Manery-Fisher Memorial Award: Dr. Susan Cole

Susan Cole - image source: Queen's UniversityBracken Chair in Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Allie Vibert “Vi” Douglas Distinguished University Professor, Queen’s University

Dr. Susan Cole joined Queen’s faculty after her B.Sc. (Biochemistry), Ph.D. (Pharmacology), and post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (Molecular Biology). She has been a Cancer Care Ontario Scientist, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, and served as Queen’s first Deputy Provost. Using multidisciplinary approaches, her lab has been devoted to understanding the biochemical mechanisms that limit the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy. Dr. Cole is best known for her discovery and characterization of MRP1/ABCC1, an ATP-binding cassette membrane protein that acts as a multidrug and physiological organic anion efflux pump. She has published >240 research articles that have been cited >28,000 times, and has been primary mentor to >60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Cole has also made significant contributions to the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. She was Deputy and Senior Editor of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cancer Research, and Molecular Pharmacology. Dr. Cole has received multiple recognitions of her research including: the National Cancer Institute of Canada Diamond Jubilee Award; the Pfizer Senior Scientist Award (Pharmacological Society of Canada); and PARTEQ Innovations 25th Anniversary Award for “Most Licensed Technology”. She is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Arthur Wynne Gold Medal Award: Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson

Anne-Marie Mes-Masson - Credit photo CHUMProfessor, Department of Medicine, University of MontrĂ©al; Associate Director, Basic and Translational Research, Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’universitĂ© de MontrĂ©al (CRCHUM); Director of the RĂ©seau de recherche sur le cancer du Fonds de recherche du QuĂ©bec – SantĂ© (FRQS); Quebec node coordinator for the Terry Fox Research Institute

Dr. Mes-Masson trained as a molecular oncologist and obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University in 1984. From 1984-1986, she completed post-doctoral studies at the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California Los Angeles, in the laboratory of Dr. Owen Witte, where she was the first to clone the full length BCR-ABL transcript implicated in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. After a short period as a research associate at the Biotechnology Research Institute, Dr. Mes-Masson joined the Institut du cancer de MontrĂ©al and the Department of Medicine at the UniversitĂ© de MontrĂ©al in 1989. A full professor since 2001, Dr. Mes-Masson was the scientific director of the Institut du cancer de MontrĂ©al and Director of cancer research at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’universitĂ© de MontrĂ©al (CRCHUM) from 2003-2018 and in 2017 accepted the position of Associate Director, Basic and Translational Research, at the CRCHUM. In 2003, Dr. Mes-Masson was named the Director of the RĂ©seau de recherche sur le cancer du Fonds de recherche du QuĂ©bec – SantĂ© (FRQS), a provincial cancer network of over 100 scientists focussed on translational and clinical cancer research (www.rrcancer.ca). Dr. Mes-Masson is a founding member of the Canadian Tumour Repository Network that focusses on enhancing capacity and quality of biobanking to support research (www.ctrnet.ca). In 2008 Dr. Mes-Masson was named the Quebec node coordinator for the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI). Dr. Mes-Masson has authored over 250 publications in cancer research. In addition to her pioneering work in biobanking, the major focus over her research in the last three decades has been ovarian and prostate cancer. While maintaining an active basic research program that focusses on the molecular events that contribute to cancer initiation and progression, Dr. Mes-Masson has also established a translational research program largely focussed on delivering personalized medicine in oncology. Her recent fundamental research focusses on the prediction of therapeutic responses and the development of new therapeutic agents for ovarian and prostate cancers.

Meeting news

Given the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSMB Meeting has been working hard to adapt.

The Life Sciences Career Expo – virtual – May 12, 14, 19, 20, 26, 28 May 2021 – 3-6PM Eastern time

LSCE2021 will be a fully event, held over three weeks in May 2021.

Protein Homeostasis in Health and Disease – virtual – June 14-17, 12 noon – 6 pm Eastern time

The conference committee has decided to have the Protein Homeostasis in Health and Disease conference virtual as well. However, if the circumstances permit, they plan to have ‘local’ conference meeting rooms at different universities such as UdM, UofT, UofA, UBC, etc. where the ‘local’ people would gather together during the conference. This will allow participants to network, while minimizing risks associated with travel.

New CSMB committee membership announced

We are proud to announce the new membership of the CSMB committees, including new at-large members:


Costin Antonescu Costin Antonescu

Ryerson University

  • Nominations
Julia Brill Julie Brill

Hospital for Sick Kids

  • Awards
  • Conference
Bradley Doble Bradley W Doble

University of Manitoba

  • Awards
  • Membership and Diversity
LĂ©onie Frigon LĂ©onie Frigon

Université de Montréal

  • Trainee
Jyh-Yeuan (Eric) Lee

University of Ottawa

  • Membership and Diversity
Howard Lipshitz Howard Lipshitz

University of Toronto

  • Advocacy and Communications
Sanela Martic Sanela Martic

Trent University

  • Conference
  • Membership and Diversity
Elizabeth Rideout Elizabeth Rideout

University of British Columbia

  • Advocacy and Communications
  • Nominations
Jian Yang Jian Yang

University of Saskatchewan

  • Awards


We also wish to thank our returning at-large members for their continuing service

Christopher Beh Christopher Beh

Simon Fraser University

  • Advocacy and Communications
Cordula Enenkel Cordula Enenkel

University of Toronto

  • Awards
Christy Thomson Christy Thomson

Senior Scientist, Amgen

  • Membership and Diversity


Recent opportunities posted

Send us your content/input

We invite you to send us content for the CSMB website and for inclusion in the CSMB newsletter.  We are actively looking for

  • News about CSMB members
  • Images that represent molecular biosciences that could be used for our website and newsletter (full credits will be given to the image source)
  • Job openings
  • Advocacy opportunities open to our members

Write to us here: contact@csmb-scbm.ca

Thank you for reading our newsletter!

Renew your membership


The CSMB membership year ends on December 31st.  Renew today to make sure you don’t lose your membership benefits.

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Follow us to stay up-to-date on all our activities.

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Members will also receive an invitation to be part of the CSMB Slack discussion group upon membership renewal.

Share your research

Have you published a new study you would like us to share through our social media feeds?

Get in touch!

You can contact us here: contact@csmb-scbm.ca

Publish in our official journals

The official journals of the CSMB are Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Genome.