Dr. Blay’s main research focus is in understanding the tumour microenvironment of solid cancers, particularly colorectal carcinoma.
His laboratory focuses on mechanisms that lead to the spread of colorectal cancer, and ways to interfere with that dissemination of disease, or metastasis.
- Tumour microenvironment of solid cancers (colorectal carcinoma)
- Mechanisms of metastasis and its regulation by proteins at the cell surface
- Development of drugs (both synthetic and natural product-derived) that interfere with cancer metastasis
Dr. Blay’s research group applies a range of techniques in molecular and cellular biology to understand how cell behaviour and the action of existing anticancer drugs are affected by the unique physiology of the cancer. This research involves investigations of chemokine pathways, and tumor-initiating cells; as well as the capacity of both synthetic and natural product-derived agents to interfere with the steps that favor metastasis. Researchers in the group identify novel pathways that may be the targets for future anticancer drugs, both derived from natural products and synthesized with the aid of colleagues through molecular design.
Dr. Blay teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Course offerings have included:
PHARM 322 Clinical Application of Pharmaceutical Science
PHARM 613 Principles and Practices in Systemic Treatments for Cancer
These publications illustrate our past research in key areas of interest. Names that are underlined represent trainees in the Blay laboratory.
and Blay J (2013). Apigenin and its impact on gastrointestinal cancers. Mol Nutr Food Res, 57(1) 126-144.
and Blay J (2011). The dietary flavonoid apigenin enhances the activities of the anti-metastatic protein CD26 on human colon carcinoma cells. Clin Exp Metastasis, 28, 337-349.
and Blay J (2008). CXCR4 in cancer and its regulation by PPARγ. PPAR Research, Article ID 769413, 19 pages, doi:10.1155/2008/769413.
and Blay J (2007). Thiazolidinedione Drugs Down-regulate CXCR4 Expression on Human Colorectal Cancer Cells in a peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-g-Dependent Manner. Int J Oncol, 30, 1215-1222.
and Blay J (2007). 15-Deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 down-regulates CXCR4 on carcinoma cells through PPARγ- and NF-κB-mediated pathways. Exp Cell Res, 313, 3446-3458.
Blay J (2012). Adenosine and Tumor Microenvironment. In: Schwab M (ed). Encyclopedia of Cancer, 3rd edn. Springer Verlag: Heidelberg. pp 49-52.
, , Zhang H, Hoskin DW and Blay J (2006). Adenosine down-regulates DPPIV on HT-29 colon cancer cells by stimulating protein tyrosine phosphatase(s) and reducing ERK1/2 activity via a novel pathway. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 291, C433-C444.
and Blay J (2004) Adenosine down-regulates the surface expression of dipeptidyl peptidase IV on HT-29 human colorectal carcinoma cells: Implications for cancer cell behavior. Am J Pathol 165, 319-330.
Blay J and Hoskin DW (2006) Impaired lymphocyte activation in the presence of adenosine: Mechanism(s) and physiologic relevance. In “Adenosine Receptors. Therapeutic Aspects for Inflammatory and Immune Diseases (Haskó G, , Cronstein BN and Szabó C, eds), Ch 5, pp 69-88 , Taylor and Francis, London.
, Hoskin DW and Blay J (2002) Adenosine suppresses α4ß7 integrin-mediated adhesion of T lymphocytes to colon adenocarcinoma cells. Exp Cell Res 276, 90-100.
Blay J, White TD and Hoskin DW (1997) The extracellular fluid of solid carcinomas contains immunosuppressive concentrations of adenosine. Cancer Res 57, 2602-2605.
, and Blay J (2006). Adenosine upregulates CXCR4 and enhances the proliferative and migratory responses of human carcinoma cells to CXCL12/SDF-1α. Int J Cancer, 119, 2044-2053.
, , and Blay J (2004) Adenosine stimulation of proliferation of breast carcinoma cell lines: Evaluation of the [3H]thymidine assay system and modulatory effects of the cellular microenvironment in vitro. J Cell Physiol 201, 429-438.
, and Blay J (2003) Adenosine stimulation of the proliferation of colorectal carcinoma cell lines. Roles of cell density and adenosine metabolism. Biochem Pharmacol, 66,1737-1747.
Awards and Distinctions
- 2016 Chartered Scientist of the Science Council (UK)
- 2015 Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
- 2012 Honorary (Life) Membership of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute “In recognition of his long-standing commitment and strong contributions to the goals of the Institute”.
- 2012 Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI) Award from the Board “In grateful recognition of your outstanding leadership and dedication during the initial years of BHCRI. For your diligent efforts toward establishment of a framework for the Institute and insightful guidance for the evolution of future collaborative research in Atlantic Canada”.
- 2010 Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) Inaugural Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award. “The award is intended to recognize an individual within a member institution who has demonstrated vision, dedication and outstanding service in building bridges and collaboration to advance knowledge infrastructure in Canada.”
- 2007 Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, Community of Scholars Award of Excellence in Medical Education.
- 2006 Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Award for Service on Board of Directors of CCS Nova Scotia Division.
- 2003 Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, Outstanding Teaching Award in Undergraduate Medical Education.
- 1993 Professor of the Year, Medicine Year 3.
- 1989-93 National Cancer Institute of Canada, Terry Fox Salary Award.
Professional Associations and Service
In addition to research and teaching, Dr Blay works to promote a wider understanding of science and biology in advancing human endeavour. He is past President of the Nova Scotia Institute for Science (NSIS) and a Fellow of the Society of Biology. He also works to support the roles of libraries in support of science and medicine, particularly through the free dissemination of digital information. He has worked extensively with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and was inaugural recipient of the CRKN Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award, which is “... intended to recognize an individual within a member institution who has demonstrated vision, dedication and outstanding service in building bridges and collaboration to advance knowledge infrastructure in Canada.”
In addition to his own research efforts, Dr Blay is widely engaged in initiatives to promote relevant cancer research, in areas of discovery, clinical application and support of the cancer patient. He was inaugural Scientific Director of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, a pioneering effort to bring together these different research perspectives across the Atlantic Provinces of Eastern Canada. He is currently Chair of the emerging Waterloo Cancer Research Network, a collective of researchers focused upon novel and innovative approaches in cancer therapy.
Further activities include:
- 2016-19 Member, Central Animal Facility Advisory Committee
- 2014-16 Board of Directors, Centre for Bioengineering & Biotechnology (CBB).
- 2007-10 Chair, Senate Review Committee for the Library System.
- 2011-12 Member, CARL-CRKN (Canadian Association of Research Libraries – Canadian Research Knowledge Network) Joint Open Access Working Group.
- 2011 Invited Session Chair, Anticancer Drugs Targeting Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) and Chemokine Receptors, 4th World Cancer Congress (WCC-2011), Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
- 2010 Regional Steering Committee for the Atlantic Dialogue, Terry Fox Research Institute, Atlantic Node.
- 2009-11 Chair, Research Committee, Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute.
- 2009-10 Member, Canadian Research Knowledge Network Human Resources Task Group.
- 2009-10 Chair, Canadian Research Knowledge Network VITaL Task Group.
- 2008-09 Member, CRKN Working Group on Value and Impact.
- 2008-10 Member, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) Copyright Working Group.
- 2004-10 Board of Directors, Canadian Research Knowledge Network.
- 2006-10 Member, Executive Committee, Canadian Research Knowledge Network.
- 2004-09 Member, Evaluation Committee, Canadian Research Knowledge Network.
1981 BSc Medical Sciences (University of Bradford)
1985 PhD Cell Biology (University of Cambridge)