People

Dr. Armand Keating, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Armand Keating, MD, FRCP(C)

Director, Cell Therapy Program and Philip S. Orsino Facility for Cell Therapy, Princess Margaret Hospital/Ontario Cancer Institute;
Professor of Medicine,
Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering,
Director, Division of Hematology
Epstein Chair in Cell Therapy and Transplantation,
University of Toronto

Dr. Armand Keating obtained his MD degree from the University of Ottawa, completed internal medicine and hematology training at the University of Toronto and a research fellowship at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He was a Cancer Research Scientist of the National Cancer Institute of Canada for 10 years upon his return to Toronto. In 1986, he established the University of Toronto Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and led it to become the largest stem cell transplant program in Canada. For a decade until 2006, he was Chief of Medical Services and Head of the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Princess Margaret Hospital/Ontario Cancer Institute as well as Director of Hematology-Oncology at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Keating has served in numerous capacities in learned societies and research institutes. He has served and chaired research review panels, including for the US National Cancer Institute, the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is the Secretary and an Officer of the American Society of Hematology and was previously a Councillor. He is a past president of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. He is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society responsible for Medical and Scientific Affairs. He is also Chair of the Steering Committee for Cell-Based Therapy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US National Institutes of Health. He is on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals, and is a co-editor of Bone Marrow Transplantation,, an Associate Editor of Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and guest editor of Cancer. He was recently listed in Best Doctors in Canada.

Dr. Keating's clinical and research interests focus on anti-cancer cell therapy, blood and marrow transplantation, leukemia, lymphoma and regenerative medicine. He has conducted laboratory and translational research in cell therapy, normal and malignant hematopoiesis, and on the biology and clinical application of marrow mesenchymal stromal cells. He is the author of over 300 publications on these subjects.

Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan, PhD

Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan, PhD

Associate Director, Cell Therapy Program

Sowmya Viswanathan received a B.A.Sc. Hon. Degree from the University of Toronto's Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. She obtained her PhD. In Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto working with Dr. Peter Zandstra (UofToronto) and Dr. Doug Lauffenburger (MIT). Dr. Viswanathan began her professional career as Manager of Scientific Affairs and Training at the Stem Cell Network, where she made significant contributions to research management, training initiatives and outreach programs. She was recruited to the position of Senior Scientist at Johnson and Johnson's Regenerative Therapeutics in Massachusetts in 2005. She lead multi-disciplinary projects focused on product development using cell- and recombinant protein-based therapies; a recombinant protein product is being investigated in 10 centers across the US in a Phase I FDA-approved clinical trial.

Dr. Viswanathan joined the Cell Therapy Program at University Health Network as Associate Director in 2009. She is responsible for translating cell-based research projects into Heath Canada/FDA-approved clinical investigations, and oversees the pre-clinical, manufacturing, quality assurance and regulatory aspects of the project leading a multidisciplinary team of project officers, clinical fellows, clinical nurses and manufacturing technicians. She is overseeing the expansion of our program and will be instrumental in setting up and operating our recently funded, 13,000 sq. ft regional Ontario-wide GMP-grade Center for Cell and Vector Production facility, which will be operational at the end of 2012. The Cell Therapy Program under Dr. Viswanathan's co-leadership has manufactured cells for 4 clinical trials, and is currently supporting preparations for 3 new clinical trials in 2011 along; these range from trials using cells for cardiac disease, renal disease to immunotherapy-based oncology trials. Dr. Viswanathan also conducts discovery research projects on the role of mesenchymal stromal cells in cardiac repair, pancreatic cancers, etc. Dr. Viswanathan acts as a consultant to the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) and is leading efforts on developing bioreactor platform technologies to mass produce clinical-grade cells.


Christine Frantz, MLT MSc

Project Manager, Cell Therapy Program

Christine obtained her BSc in Cell Biotechnology, followed by a MSc in Biochemistry, from the University of Alberta. She also holds a Medical Laboratory Technology diploma from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has worked in both diagnostic and research laboratories. With her background in process and assay design, Christine oversees the development and manufacture of Cell Therapy Program clinical cell products, and has an additional focus in the development and implementation of collaborative cell therapy-based clinical trials.


Matthew Scaife, MSc

Projects Officer, Cell Therapy Program

Matthew obtained his MSc at the University of Toronto with focuses in gene- and cell- therapy. He also brings his clinical research and product development experience from his former industry training at a Toronto based biotechnology company. As the program's Projects Officer, he will be working to develop and implement cell therapy-based clinical trials.


Dr. Xing Hua Wang, MD

Manager, Orsino Translational Research Laboratory

Dr. Xing Hua Wang obtained his medical degree from the renowned Shanghai University, with a specialization in Pediatrics and Hematology. He practiced as a pediatric general surgeon and taught in the hospital before pursuing a research fellowship in Hematology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada under the supervision of Dr. Zipursky. Following a second research fellowship in Hematology at Princess Margaret Hospital with Dr. Hans Messner, he joined Dr. Armand Keating's research group.

Dr. Wang has led the basic and translational research lab for many years, and during this time has undertaken research spanning both the mesenchymal and hematopoietic fields. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, from basic research to correlative studies for clinical cell therapy trials.


Dr. Pierre Villeneuve, MD PhD

Pierre Villeneuve is a recently graduated adult hematologist. He obtained his MDCM and PhD degrees from McGill University. He is currently enrolled in the post-doctoral pathway of the clinician-scientist training program at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the development of novel adoptive immunotherapies for the treatment of haematological malignancies. He is also interested into the applications of the immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stroma cells for the treatment and prevention of graft-versus-host disease.


Jan McCrae, RN

Jan graduated as a Registered Nurse from St. Joseph's Hospital, Hamilton Ontario. She initially worked as a staff nurse at the Jewish General, Montreal General, and Royal Victoria Hospitals in Montreal. Eventually moving to Toronto, Jan joined the Toronto Western Hospital team in the Cardiology and Cardiovascular Unit. While there, Jan pursued a career in clinical research as a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator, organizing all aspects of clinical trials in Hematology and Neuro Oncology. She moved with the Hematology Oncology Program to Toronto General Hospital and began working in the Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant Program. This program was moved to the Princess Margaret Hospital where Jan became involved with the Cell Therapy Program continuing to organizing all aspects of clinical trials.