Dr. Colleen Nelson

Dr. Colleen Nelson

B.Sc. (Honours) (Biochemistry), University of Wyoming, 1986
Ph.D. (Cell Biology), John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, 1990

Clinical and Research Scientists

Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Founder, Microarray Facility, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Associate Professor, Department of Urologic Sciences, University of British Columbia
Affiliated appointment: Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology/Translational Research Institute, Biomedical Precinct, Princess Alexandra Hospital


Dr. Nelson’s research interests focus on changes in gene expression in androgen-independence of prostate cancer, and use of high-throughput bioprofiling for screening, validation, and functional evaluation of targets.  This is a key initial step in converting genes from leads to targets and on to products with commercial values.  In collaboration with Dr. Gleave, she has brought several genes from discovery to licensing.  Together with Drs. Rennie, Gleave and Goldenberg, she co-founded The Prostate Centre at VGH in 1998, and has led successful large infrastructure grants (WEDF, Genome BC) and government and industrial contracts.  In 2004, Drs. Gleave and Nelson were awarded funding (CFI, RHF, MSFHR) for The Prostate Centre's Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development (PC-TRiADD), building on The Prostate Centre's multi-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians to increase their capacity to translate discovery science through clinical research and into improved treatment of prostate cancer.

In 1999 she established The Microarray Facility at The Prostate Centre for high throughput gene expression, second of its kind in Canada and the only large scale microarray facility in Western Canada.  The Platform quickly developed as a magnet for research activities and is currently a comprehensive platform that spans integrated activities including large-scale production, experimentation, analysis, on-site training, and technology development. The facility expanded with leveraged funding through Genome Canada and WED and provides microarrays and services nationally and internationally.

Dr. Nelson’s research applies microarray-based approaches to identify dysregulated genes during prostate cancer progression by expression profiling of patient samples and tumour models both in vitro and in vivo.  Information regarding dysregulated gene networks is used to develop diagnostics and therapeutics for prostate cancer.  In collaboration with Dr. Gleave, antisense oligo based therapies have been developed directed toward Bcl2, IGFBPs, HSP27, YB-1, and clusterin. Several other potential gene targets for prostate cancer progression are currently under investigation in her lab.  She has held a constant stream of competitive scholarships and fellowships throughout her undergraduate, graduate and PDF training and Faculty Scholarships from CIHR and MSFHR. Dr. Nelson is the recipient of numerous other meritorious awards.  Her research laboratory has a successful track record for receiving peer-reviewed funding from national and international agencies and industry.

She is Chair of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative and is on the Executive of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Foundation advisory committee. She is on the SAB for Molecular Templates (since 2001) and OncoGenex (since 2003), as well as being on the International Council of Advisors for Gerson Lehrman Group (2001-present).  She has been a member or chair of many peer-review panels (e.g. OCRN, MSFHR, NCIC, US DoD). She has been a leading organizer of the Pacific Rim Prostate and Breast Cancer Network between Australia and Canada, and is the proposed Director of an Australian-Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance co-funded by 2M$ from the State of Queensland that forms a resourced network of all major prostate cancer research groups in Australia and Canada.

A World Class Centre

The Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC) has a track record of success that has earned it a reputation as one of the world’s most respected cancer facilities. It is a National Centre of Excellence and a designated Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research.


VPC Terry Fox team 2016

Terry Fox Run - September 20, 2020

The 40th annual Terry Fox Run takes place on Sunday September 20 across Canada, as a virtual event.  Please consider donating to or joining our TFRI-VPC team as we raise funds to enable The Terry Fox Foundation & The Terry Fox Research Institute to continue their support of innovative and progressive cancer research programs


Work at the Vancouver Prostate Centre

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Dr. Collins awarded CIHR Project Grant

Dr. Colin Collins
Friday, January 22, 2021

Dr. Nappi receives MSFHR 2020 Health Professional-Investigator Award