Andre Martel

November 2020

  • Residency Program: University of Ottawa
  • Supervisors: Dr. Rebecca Auer,

When did you become interested in Research? I would say this was pretty early on in my training. Before med school, I spent a few years in a biochem lab working on regenerative medicine in skeletal muscle injury and loved the experience. During med school and junior residency, I became increasingly interested in clinical research, first with a few simple chart reviews but then developed a specific interest in periop research.

How has research influenced your career goals?
During my CIP MSc in cancer immunology, I was lucky enough to be involved in a few periop clinical trials for cancer surgery patients. I loved the experience, being able to bridge the gap from bench to bedside. While I’m not sure yet whether I want to run my own lab in my career, I definitely plan on collaborating with basic scientists to come up with novel and unique agents for periop trials.

What is one piece of advice you would share to other residents interested in research?
When considering research, ask, ask, ask. Chat with current and recent CIP residents to get their advice, meet with staff to discuss ongoing projects. Research can be very interesting and fulfilling, but it’s also a lot of work. Make sure you start a project that truly motivates you, and not the other way around. It can be tempting to pick up a project to please a staff, but without passion it will likely not lead to completion. I’ve learned this the hard way.

What are the challenges of conducting research during residency?
I think the two main challenges are the lack of time and (feeling) lack of support initially. While on clinical duties, the days are already full with eat, sleep, work, repeat. It can be difficult to squeeze in research in there. But I find writing myself deadlines really helps, and I tend to get most of my work done on weekends off. It can also be difficult to get the ball rolling in the junior years, not knowing where and how to start doing research. But chat with people – start with the CIP residents. They’ve built a wealth of knowledge through the years and will be happy to give you advice from reaching out to staff, to analyzing data, to writing grants and manuscripts.

What do you enjoy doing outside of residency/research? 
I’m all about the simple things to rest & recharge. I meditate almost daily, exercise regularly (more accurately, struggle painfully on the Peloton), and try to play at least one round of golf per week year-round (indoor simulator in the winter). Other than that, I love spending time with my girlfriend and our big goldendoodle, staying connected with friends & family and diving into fiction novels.

Any advice for approaching a potential research mentor?
Early in residency, I think it’s key to keep an open mind and meet with several research supervisors. Inform yourself on the various research happening in your division. Keep this informal and light, non-committal at first. If your interests and vision will align with one of the staff as potential supervisor and mentor, then go for it! Try setting up a research block in your junior years if you’re considering CIP. This gives you a good sense of what the research years will look like.

Most memorable moment in research?
Two moments really stand out. First, taking home best basic science translational paper at SSO 2018 in Chicago for our work analyzing NK cell function in colorectal cancer patients. Second was when I found out that the results of my MSc research may turn into a periop clinical trial – learning first-hand how to bridge that gap from bench to bedside.

Selected Publications 
My main thesis manuscripts are in preparation, but these are a few of my immunology translational papers:

Market M & Angka L,Martel AB, Bastin D, Olanubi O, Tennakoon G, Boucher D, Ng J, Ardolino M & Auer RC. 2020.Flattening the COVID-19 Curve with Natural Killer Cell Based Immunotherapies.Frontiers

Angka L & Martel AB, Kilgour M, Jeong A, Sadiq M, Tanese de Souza C, Baker L, Kennedy MA & Auer RC. 2018. Co-first author. Natural Killer Cell IFN gamma secretion is profoundly suppressed following colorectal cancer surgery. Annals of Surgical Oncology.