The CHS would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Dr. Connie Eaves and Dr. Peter Zandstra on their recent appointment to the Order of Canada. Dr. Connie Eaves is recognized as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her outstanding lifetime contributions in advancing our understanding of cancer development, and for her national and international leadership in stem cell biology. Dr. Zandstra was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada and is being recognized for his significant contributions to stem cell bioengineering and ground-breaking work in the field of regenerative medicine.
Dr. Eaves is a Distinguished Scientist at BC Cancer’s Terry Fox Laboratory and a University Distinguished Scholar and Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics and the School of Biomedical Engineering at UBC. Her work spans more than five decades and has led to impactful advances in the field of leukemia and breast cancer research. Dr. Eaves is recognized for her development of robust functional methods to quantify and characterize distinct types of primitive hematopoietic, mammary and cancer cell precursors, which are now internationally considered as gold standards. Their use has enabled many discoveries, including Dr. Eaves’ first demonstration of quiescent malignant stem cells from studies of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia.
While initially one of very few women accepted into medical school, Dr. Eaves decided to pursue laboratory research in Biology and Chemistry, and went on to obtain a Masters of Science in Genetics at Queens University. She pursued doctoral training at the Paterson Laboratories of the Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute and obtained a PhD from the University of Manchester in England. Dr. Eaves did postdoctoral work on hematopoiesis at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, Canada, as a member of the research team of James Till and Ernest McCulloch, and then moved to British Columbia for an academic faculty position at the University of British Columbia. In 1981, she co-founded the Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency with her husband, Dr. Allen Eaves.
Dr. Eaves has numerous accolades and honors of recognition, including election as a Fellow of the Royal Societies of Canada, Edinburgh, and UK, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and receipt of the Canadian Robert Noble and Chew-Wei Memorial Prizes for Cancer Research, the International CML Foundation Rowley Award, the Stratton Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Hematology, and the 2019 Gairdner Wightman award. However, her proudest accomplishment is being a devoted mentor to hundreds of postgraduate trainees from all over the world. As well, she is a steadfast advocate for early-career female scientists, and has been recognized for her efforts to encourage more women to enter STEMM fields (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine).
Regarding being a member of the Canadian Hematology Society, Dr. Eaves says, “it has been and continues to be important for the Canadian Hematology community to have a society to reinforce our values, communicate, set directions, share ideas and new directions with each other”.
Dr. Peter Zandstra began his career as a chemical engineering undergraduate student at McGill University. At that time, there was emerging interest for biomedical engineers in biotechnology. A biotechnology class sparked his interest in being able to use his engineering skills to help people and have an impact on people’s health. He subsequently pursued a PhD with Dr. Connie Eaves (and Dr. Jamie Piret – UBC CHBE), an ongoing mentor for Dr. Zandstra and for many other investigators. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This led to over two decades of pioneering leadership work in the field of stem cell bioengineering, including the development of technologies to grow blood stem cells, and to generate blood progenitors cells and T-cells from pluripotent stem cells.
Dr. Zandstra is the Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering at University of British Columbia. Dr. Zandstra also serves as Director of Michael Smith Laboratories and as head of the Stem Cell Bioengineering laboratory at UBC. He is the co-founder of the biotechnology companies ExCellThera and Notch Therapeutics. In addition to his recent appointment to the Order of Canada, Dr. Zandstra has received numerous awards and honors, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, NSERC’s E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship and appointments as fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Zandstra states that his proudest accomplishment however is mentoring the people that have worked in his lab over the years and having a positive influence on their work and careers.
As an active member of the CHS, Dr. Zandstra feels proud to part of the CHS community and support its efforts to surface exciting science and help in the adoption of new technologies and connect them to clinical practice.