Principal Investigators

Dr. Kevin Gregory-Evans

Kevin Gregory-Evans is currently Professor of Ophthalmology in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, and holder of the Julia Levy BC Leadership Chair in Macular Research, Vancouver, Canada. Before 2009 he was Reader in Molecular Ophthalmology, Imperial College London, UK. He underwent clinical ophthalmology training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK and basic science research training with Professors Alan Bird and Shomi Bhattacharya (Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK) and Professor Richard Weleber (Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon, USA). In 1985 he achieved an MBBS, at St. Bartholomew's Medical School, University of London; in 1989 was awarded FRCS, Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians, Glasgow, UK; was awarded FRCOphth, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, London, in 1990; an MD (Res) in molecular biology in 1994, University of London; in 2009 was awarded a PhD in cell biology, University of London; and in 2012 was awarded the FRCSC of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

His research interests include novel approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease. In total, Dr Gregory-Evans has published 82 peer-reviewed, original research articles, 18 peer-reviewed research review articles, and 9 book chapters. This has included basic science studies in molecular genetics, molecular therapeutics in model systems and stem cell therapeutics. Dr Gregory-Evans current lab includes two Research Associates, one Research Fellow, one Research Assistant and one post-doctoral student. In 1994 he reported one of the first localisations for a retinal disease gene and since then has reported on another 15 retinal disease genes. Dr Gregory-Evans has recently led two pre-clinical molecular therapeutic studies and two pre-clinical stem cell interventional studies. Clinical studies have included investigator-led descriptive studies in patients with retinal degeneration, corneal disease, cataract and glaucoma, and a number of investigator-led interventional studies in retinal degeneration, cataract and glaucoma. He has acted as a lead investigator for three pharma-led interventional studies: SUSTAIN (Study of ranibizumab in patients with subfoveal choroidal neovascularization secondary to age-related macular degeneration, Novartis Pharamceuticals); VIEW2 (VEGF trap-eye: investigation of efficiency and safety in wet AMD, Bayer Schering Pharma) and STAR (A Phase 2, Multicenter, Randomized, Double‑Masked, Placebo‑Controlled Study of the Safety and Efficacy of Ataluren (PTC124) for the Treatment of Nonsense Mutation Aniridia, PTC Therapeutics).

In 2008 he was elected to the Macular Disease Advisory Group at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, UK, to advise on setting up retinal disease treatment clinics throughout the UK. In 2006 he was elected an Examiner for post-graduate examinations of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and between 2004 and 2009 was Theme Lead for undergraduate ophthalmology, Imperial College London, Currently, he is Council Member and Chairman, of the Research Infrastructure Working Group of the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. He is also an active panel member for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Panel, California, USA. He is an active speaker for lay audiences including: the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society; and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (UK) and the Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada. In 2013 he was awarded the Lang Medal by the Royal Society of Medicine (UK) for work on translational therapeutics for retinal diseases.


Dr. James Shapiro, M.D., Ph.D., FRCSC

Born in Leeds, England, Dr James Shapiro obtained his Medical Degree at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and trained in Surgery at the University of Bristol. In 1993, He came to the University of Alberta in Canada to train in liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery, continuing research studies in experimental islet transplantation begun as a medical student. He earned a Ph.D. studying new drug combinations for possible testing in islet transplantation. He then further trained in liver surgery in Vancouver, in living donor liver transplant surgery in Japan, and in whole pancreas transplant surgery at the University of Maryland. In 1998, he returned to the University of Alberta as a multi-organ transplant surgeon.

Dr. Shapiro was asked to lead the Clinical Islet Transplant Program team in Edmonton; Together with Drs. Lakey, Ryan, Rajotte, Kneteman and Korbutt, he developed and tested a new protocol that used a steroid-free anti-rejection regimen coupled with sufficient numbers of transplanted islets. This research has since become known as the "Edmonton Protocol." In 1999, Dr. Shapiro initiated the pancreas transplant program at the University of Alberta, and in the same year performed the first emergency living-related donor liver transplant in Canada.

Dr. Shapiro is Principal Investigator of the international multi-center trial of islet transplantation testing the Edmonton Protocol at 9 international sites, sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network. He is also Principal Investigator and Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Clinical Center for Islet Transplantation created in 2001 at the University of Alberta. In 2002, Dr. Shapiro was awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Wyeth Clinical Research Chair in Transplantation at the University of Alberta.

In 2005,Dr. Shapiro received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada for his work towards the development of a new treatment for Diabetes. He was also named one of the "Physicians of the Century", by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the Alberta Medical Association. In 2006, he was named one of Nature Biotechnology's most remarkable and influential personalities from the past 10 years, in Biopharmaceuticals.

Dr. Shapiro maintains an active immunology/transplant research laboratory focused on aspects of tolerance induction relating to islet transplantation with emphasis on costimulatory blockade and chimerism, with translational potential to clinical islet recipients. In early 2004, Dr. Shapiro was awarded an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Scholarship to support his on-going tolerance research.


Dr. Kelly McNagny

Dr. Kelly McNagny 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. He performed some of the first studies to identify transcription factors that regulate the gene expression and differentiation of eosinophils, which are known to play a major role in allergic and asthmatic responses.  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.

He is currently a full professor in Medical Genetics at The Biomedical Research Centre where his work focuses on stem cell behavior, inflammatory disease, cancer biology and therapeutics.

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 and a visiting professorship at the Phillip's University of Marburg. 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'sBiomarkers and Bioinformatics Platform.


Dr. Thomas Pulinilkunnil - Biochemist

Dr. Thomas Pulinilkunnil is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University and an adjunct professor at UNBSJ. He is also an affiliate scientist at the Saint John Regional Hospital and was formerly the research director at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.

After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science and his Master’s degree in neuropharmacology in India, Dr. Pulinilkunnil moved to Canada and achieved a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of British Columbia. He then completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Harvard Medical School and the other in energy metabolism at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Pulinilkunnil’s research mainly examines the mechanisms of energy metabolism in diseases such as diabetes, obesity and breast cancer. He has also studied nutrient regulation of lysosome metabolism, signaling and autophagy in health and disease, and amino acid biology.