Scientific Advisory Board

Yanet Valdez, MSc, PhD

Research Specialty: Immunology, Pathogenesis, Infectious Diseases, Microbiology

Dr. Yanet Valdez obtained a master’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru. There she worked on a collaborative project between Dr. Robert Gilman of John’s Hopkins University and Dr. Douglas Berg of Washington University School of Medicine. This collaboration focused on the analysis of genetic polymorphism and drug resistance of Peruvian clinical isolates of Helicobacter pylori (Hp, a leading cause of stomach cancer) using DNA fingerprinting. This work had important implications for the administration of antibiotics used in Hp treatment.

She then moved to the University of British in Vancouver where she worked at the Biomedical Research Centre as the lab director for Dr. Sarah Townsend, who was performing seminal studies on the cellular communication between B and T cells in induction of tolerance.

Dr Valdez obtained her PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Brett Finlay at UBC where she dissected the host cellular and immunological response to Salmonella. This work revealed novel concepts in the area of innate responses to intracellular pathogens and has significant implications for human disease including the mechanisms driving diarrheal disease, infectious colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Another significant contribution was the development of a novel model of severe and persistent intestinal fibrosis. Intestinal fibrosis is a serious complication of Crohn’s disease, with one third of Crohn’s disease patients developing intestinal obstructions that require surgical intervention. Her model offers a platform for investigating both host and bacterial contributions to inflammatory bowel diseases as well as infectious colitis.

In 2014, Dr. Valdez joined StemCell Technologies in Vancouver as a scientist and was quickly promoted to Team Lead in 2016. Dr. Valdez currently supervises a team to develop innovative cell separation kits for the study of innate immune cells .

Kelly M. McNagny, PhD, Professor of Medical Genetics, U. of British Columbia

Research Specialty: Immunology, Inflammation, Hematology, Cancer Therapeutics

Kelly McNagnyDr. Kelly McNagny is a full professor in Medical Genetics at The Biomedical Research Centre where his work focuses on stem cell behavior, innate immune responses, inflammatory disease, cancer biology and therapeutics. He is an expert on animal models of human disease and has experience with neuro-inflammatory disease models in mice. Kelly obtained his Ph.D. in Cellular Immunology at the U. of Alabama at Birmingham in 1990. There he worked with Dr. Max D. Cooper (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Academy of Sciences) and his research focused on cell surface proteins that regulate B cell maturation and homing. He then moved to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany where he performed his postdoctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Thomas Graf from 1991 to 1996. There his work focused on transcriptional control of hematopoietic stem cell maturation and cell fate. In addition, he identified a number of novel hematopoietic stem cell surface proteins (the CD34 family) and began analyzing their function. He continued his studies at the EMBL as a semi-independent, Visiting Scientist from 1996 to 1998 prior to starting his own laboratory at The Biomedical Research Centre, at UBC. In 2015 he also served as the Scientific Director of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a National Centre of Excellence aimed at translating early stage scientific discoveries into therapies. He has garnered several awards including the 2004 Showell-Pfizer Junior Faculty Award from the American Association for Immunology, a MSFHR Career Investigator Award. Kelly is a member of the Canadian Stem Cell Network Centre of Excellence (Sub-Chair of the Trainee Education Committee), Associate Director of the AllerGen Network Centre of Excellence, and Co-Director of AllerGen’s Biomarkers and Bioinformatics Platform.

Experience: Kelly and his wife are parents of a survivor of Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and have first hand experience in the challenges associated with rapidly diagnosing and treating this disease.