Aly Karsan

Terry Fox Labs

After receiving his MD from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and a rotating internship at Lion’s Gate Hospital, North Vancouver, BC, Dr. Karsan practiced medicine in rural BC and the Northwest Territories before working as a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières. He then completed his residency in Hematological Pathology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) followed by a Research Fellowship at the University of Washington.

Currently, Dr. Karsan is Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC, and Distinguished Scientist at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer. Dr. Karsan has been supported by several prestigious awards over the years, including 10 years as a Clinician-Scientist awardee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 10 years as a Scholar of the Michael Smith Foundation of Health Research and currently as the recipient of the John Auston BC Cancer Foundation Clinical Scientist Award.

Dr. Karsan is internationally recognized in the field of blood cancer research. His translational research lab has generated seminal work on the role of noncoding RNAs and innate immune signaling in blood cancers. He currently leads a team of six principal investigators in a Terry Fox Research Institute Program Project in acute leukemia research. He is a member of various international hematology committees including: the International Working Group for Prognosis in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), the Experimental Hematology Subcommittee of the Society for Hematopathology, and the Laboratory Assays Working Group for the Myeloid Malignancies Precision Medicine Initiative. In 2002, he co-founded the Centre for Blood Research at UBC with nine other principal investigators.

Dr. Karsan is also a recognized leader in delivering clinical genomic assays. He established the first clinically-accredited Next Generation Sequencing lab in Canada, the Centre for Clinical Genomics (CCG), which was among the first few in the world. The CCG delivers cancer genomic testing to the entire population of BC. This pioneering work in using next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies for clinical delivery has led to the development of various novel technologies for clinical genomic testing including a unique genetic barcoding system to track patient samples, development and implementation of clinical reporting software for NGS, development of a transcriptomic (RNA sequencing) test for leukemia and clinical validation of a non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) by whole genome sequencing in partnership with the Prenatal Screening Program of BC. He has led clinical trials in leukemia and solid tumour genomics and hereditary cancer diagnostics. These innovations led to a reduction of wait times for hereditary cancer testing, reduced per test costs and have increased the breadth of genes being tested. His work has been recognized with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) Gold Apple award for Innovation.