Dennis MaAlumnus Dennis Ma credits his UWindsor education with preparing him for his career researching drugs to treat cancer.

Grad a senior scientist investigating drugs to treat cancer

Science alumnus Dennis Ma (BSc 2010, PhD 2016) will start in 2023 with a new role as a senior scientist at Calico Life Sciences, a company focused on longevity, aging, and diseases related to aging.

“I will be focusing on cancer drug discovery and studying cellular mechanisms driving metastasis, the spread of cancers from a primary tumour to secondary sites in the body,” says Dr. Ma.

“Metastasis is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths, so it is my goal to leverage my discoveries to drive the design of new and effective therapeutics for metastatic cancers.”

The former Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar received his doctorate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry under the supervision of professor Siyaram Pandey.

“Because of Science at UWindsor I’ve had extensive training in cancer drug discovery and testing during my PhD with Dr. Pandey,” he says.

“Combined with my latest postdoctoral training with patient tumour samples and metastasis in the labs of Dr. Kai Kessenbrock and Dr. Devon Lawson at the University of California, Irvine, I feel well prepared heading into this new position.”

Ma is currently finishing his postdoctoral research in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine.

“Notably during my postdoctoral training, I was the first scientist in the world to genetically engineer patient tumour cells to functionally study mechanisms driving metastasis in animal models,” says Ma.

“I hope to adapt and combine my new technologies and workflows with my background in cancer drug discovery from my PhD to develop new therapies for cancer at Calico.”

Pandey calls Ma an impressive researcher with outstanding research productivity, and says he is expecting transformational development in anti-cancer therapeutics from Ma’s novel approach.

“His cutting-edge technologies and impactful work on metastasis have been published in Nature Cell Biology, Nature Methods, and Communications Biology and have earned him the prestigious and competitive K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health to start up his own academic lab and fund his research program as an independent investigator,” says Pandey.

Ma credits his UWindsor education with preparing him for his new job.

“While completing my doctorate with Dr. Pandey, I learned to be an effective collaborator, mentor, and leader and have led my students and collaborators to the publication of over 20 research papers,” says Ma.

“I’m ready to bring my teamwork and leadership skills to Calico to develop new and effective therapeutics for cancer.”

Because of Science

Because of Science at UWindsor is a series designed to showcase Faculty of Science alumni and the impact of their journey through science.