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Kevin L. Bennewith

Department of Integrative Oncology - Radiation Biology Unit

Senior Scientist    Rm. 10-108 • 675 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 1L3

Tel.  604 675 8042    Lab. 604 675 8000 x7041 

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Current Appointments

Senior Scientist, Department of Integrative Oncology, Radiation Biology Unit, BC Cancer Agency (2016)

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia (2016)

Co-Director, Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, UBC

Previous Appointments and Education

Scientist, Department of Integrative Oncology, Radiation Biology Unit, BC Cancer Agency (2011-2016)

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia (2011-2016)

Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC (2009-2011)

Research Scientist, Department of Integrative Oncology, BC Cancer Agency (2008-2011)

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Division of Radiation and Cancer Biology, Stanford University (2004-2008)

PhD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC (1999-2004)


Honours and Awards

Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Basic Science Research, Faculty of Medicine, UBC (2017)

Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, UBC (2016)

Early Career Excellence in Research and Discovery Award, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC (2016)

Excellence in Education Award, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC (2014)

Biomedical Research Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Career Investigator Award (2011-2019)


Dr. Kevin L. Bennewith, PhD - Principal Investigator


Dr. S. Elizabeth Franks, PhD - Post-Doctoral Fellow

Rachel Cederberg - PhD Student

Lisa Decotret - PhD Candidate

Natalie Firmino - PhD Candidate

Che-Min Lee - MSc Student

Brennan J. Wadsworth - PhD Candidate



Dr. Judit P. Banath, PhD - Research Assistant

Momir Bosiljcic - Research Assistant; MSc Graduate; CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Master's Award recipient; Technician

Jenna L. Collier - MSc Graduate; CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Master's Award recipient; Walter C. Koerner Fellowship recipient

Dr. Elizabeth C. Halvorsen - PhD Graduate; CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Master's Award recipient; UBC four-year fellowship recipient; Li Tze Fong Memorial Fellowship recipient

Dr. Melisa J. Hamilton, PhD - Post-Doctoral Fellow; Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation BC/Yukon Division Post-Doctoral Fellowship recipient

Bryant T. Harbourne - MSc Graduate

Jessica X. Jia - Technician

Ada Y. Kim - MSc Graduate; Summer Student; Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (BC/Yukon) Studentship Award recipient; Undergraduate Honour's Thesis Student

Martin Koehler - MSc Graduate; Maastricht University MSc Internship Program

Patrick Lai - Medical Summer Student; Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (BC/Yukon) Studentship Award recipient

Hannah Lee - Summer Student;  Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (BC/Yukon) Studentship Award recipient; Undergraduate Honour's Thesis Student

Nancy E. LePard - Research Assistant

Dr. Sahar Mahmoud, MD, PhD - Post-Doctoral Fellow

Rose Shumiatcher - Undergraduate Summer Student; BC Cancer Foundation Studentship Award recipient

Alvina So - Summer Student; BC Cancer Summer Studentship Award recipient; Undergraduate Honour's Thesis Student 

G.R. Tom Walton - Medical Summer Student; UBC Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Research Program Award recipient 

Ada Young - MSc Graduate


Most solid tumours contain cells that are poorly oxygenated, and these hypoxic tumour cells are refractory to a variety of cancer treatments including radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  Not only are hypoxic cells the most difficult tumour cells to kill with conventional therapies, but hypoxia also promotes a more aggressive tumour phenotype. In the clinic, patients with primary tumours that contain large fractions of hypoxic cells have poor outcome, due in large part to limited treatment response and the presence of distant metastatic disease. My lab is interested in the role of tumour hypoxia (and the tumour microenvironment) in cancer therapy and in the development of tumour metastases.

Tumour Perfusion and Hypoxia

The extent of hypoxia in solid tumours can be measured by exogenous hypoxia markers (drugs that are bound and retained in hypoxic cells) and/or endogenous hypoxia markers (proteins that are increased in hypoxic cells). The oxygenation level of tumour cells can change as a function of time due to fluctuations in tumour perfusion, and this transient (or cyclic) hypoxia is poorly understood. We use positron emission tomography (PET), immunohistochemistry, and flow cytometry to quantify transiently hypoxic tumour cells with the goal of designing more effective therapeutic strategies to target (or exploit) tumour hypoxia. We also study the influence of ionizing radiation on tumour cell phenotype and invasion in models of breast and brain cancer.

Immune suppressive cells in solid tumour metastasis

The metastatic spread of cancer is associated with over 90% of cancer-related deaths. We have found that cytokines and other proteins secreted by tumours can stimulate the accumulation of immune modulatory cells in tissues prior to the arrival of metastatic tumour cells. Immune suppressive cells (e.g., myeloid-derived suppressor cells, macrophages, regulatory T cells) inhibit the cytotoxic function of effector T cells in several tissues, creating localized environments that allow metastasizing tumour cells to escape immune attack. Inhibition of immune suppressive cell recruitment and function leads to decreased metastatic tumour growth in the lungs, supporting therapeutic strategies to target immune suppressive cells in the clinic. We are also interested in how the immune system responds to tumour antigens and microenvironmental limitations to immune cell infiltration into solid tumours.

See the Selected Publications section below for more information!


We gratefully acknowledge operating grant funding and stipend support from the following organizations:

Operating funds:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (

The Cancer Research Society ( and the CURE Foundation (

The BC Cancer Foundation (

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Cancer Research (

The Terry Fox Foundation (http://www.terryfox.orgvia The Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (

Stipend and salary support:

Kevin Bennewith is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Biomedical Research Scholar (

Rachel Cederberg is currently funded by a Cordula and Gunter Paetzold PhD Fellowship from the UBC Affiliated Fellowships Program (

Rachel Cederberg is currently funded by the Laurel L Watters Research Fellowship from the UBC Faculty of Medicine (

Rachel Cederberg was funded by a Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Master's Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (

Lisa Decotret is a Scholar in The Strategic Training in Transdisciplinary Radiation Science for the 21st Century (STARS21) Program (

Natalie Firmino is currently funded by a Doctoral Research Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (

Natalie Firmino is a Scholar in The Strategic Training in Transdisciplinary Radiation Science for the 21st Century (STARS21) Program (

Natalie Firmino is a Four Year Doctoral Fellow from the University of British Columbia (

Natalie Firmino was funded by a Cordula and Gunter Paetzold PhD Fellowship from the UBC Affiliated Fellowships Program (

Brennan Wadsworth is currently funded by a Doctoral Research Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (

Brennan Wadsworth is a Scholar in The Strategic Training in Transdisciplinary Radiation Science for the 21st Century (STARS21) Program (

Brennan Wadsworth is a Four Year Doctoral Fellow from the University of British Columbia (

Brennan Wadsworth was funded by an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship Master's Award from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (

Brennan Wadsworth was funded by a Northern Telecom Graduate Fellowship and a Jean MacDonald Graduate Fellowship from the University of British Columbia Affiliated Fellowship Program (


  1. Halvorsen EC, Franks SE, Wadsworth BJ, Harbourne BT, Cederberg RA, Steer CA, Martinez-Gonzalez I, Calder J, Lockwood WW, Bennewith KL. IL-33 increases ST2+ Tregs and promotes metastatic tumour growth in the lungs in an amphiregulin-dependent manner. Oncoimmunology (in press) doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2018.1527497, 2018.

  2. Gilabert-Oriol R, Ryan GM, Leung AWY, Firmino NS, Bennewith KL, Bally MB. Liposomal formulations to modulate the tumour microenvironment and anti-tumour immune response. Int J Mol Sci 19(10): pii: E2922. doi: 10.3390/ijms19102922, 2018.

  3. Martinez* VD, Firmino* N, Marshall* EA, Ng K, Wadsworth BJ, Anderson C, Lam WL, Bennewith KL. Non-coding RNAs predict recurrence-free survival of patients with hypoxic tumours. [*equal contributions] Scientific Reports 8(1):152, 2018.

  4. Marshall E, Sage A, Ng K, Martinez V, Firmino N, Bennewith K, Lam W. Small non-coding RNA transcriptome of the NCI-60 cell line panel. Scientific Data 4:170157, 2017.

  5. Young AGH and Bennewith KL.  Ionizing radiation enhances breast tumour cell migration in vitro.  Radiat Res 188(4): 381-91, 2017.

  6. Swayampakula M, McDonald PC, Vallejo M, Coyaud E, Chafe SC, Westerback A, Venkateswaran G, Shankar J, Gao G, Laurent EMN, Lou Y, Bennewith KL, Supuran CT, Nabi IR, Raught B, Dedhar S. The interactome of metabolic enzyme carbonic anhydrase IX reveals novel roles in tumor cell migration and invadopodia/MMP-14-mediated invasion. Oncogene 36(45):6244-61, 2017.

  7. Wadsworth BJ, Pan J, Dude I, Colpo N, Bosiljcic M, Lin* KS, Benard* F, Bennewith*+ KL. 2-18F-Fluoroethanol is a novel positron emission tomography (PET) reporter of solid tumour perfusion. [*Co-senior author; +corresponding author] J Nucl Med 58(5):815-20, 2017.

  8. Dickman CTD, Lawson JS, MacLellan SA, Jabalee J, LePard NE, Bennewith KL, Garnis C. Selective extracellular vesicle exclusion of miR-142-3p by oral cancer cells promotes both internal and extracellular malignant phenotypes.  Oncotarget 8(9): 15252-66, 2017.

  9. Nabavi N, Bennewith KL, Churg A, Wang Y, Collins CC and Mutti L. Switching off malignant mesothelioma: exploiting the hypoxic microenvironment. Genes & Cancer 7(11-12):340-354, 2016.

  10. Marshall EA, Ng KW, Kung SH, Conway EM, Martinez VD, Halvorsen EC, Rowbotham DA, Vucic EA, Plumb AW, Becker-Santos DD, Enfield KS, Kennett JY, Bennewith KL, Lockwood WW, Lam S, English JC, Abraham N, Lam WL.  Emerging roles of T helper 17 and regulatory T cells in lung cancer progression and metastasis.  Mol Cancer 15(1):67, 2017.

  11. Halvorsen EC, Hamilton MJ, Young A, Wadsworth BJ, LePard NE, Lee HN, Firmino N, Collier JL and Bennewith KL.  Maraviroc decreases CCL8-mediated migration of CCR5+ regulatory T cells and reduces metastatic tumour growth in the lungs.  Oncoimmunology 5(6):e1150398. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2016.1150398, 2016.

  12. Krystal G, Hamilton MJ and Bennewith KL.  SHIP prevents metastasis.  Aging 8(5):837-8, 2016.

  13. Firmino N*, Martinez VD*, Rowbotham DA, Enfield KSS, Bennewith KL and Lam WL. HPV status is associated with altered PIWI-interacting RNA expression pattern in head and neck cancer.  [*Co-first author] Oral Oncology 55:43-8, 2016.

  14. Hamilton MJ, Halvorsen EC, LePard NE, Bosiljcic M, Ho V, Lam V, Banáth JP, Bennewith*+ KL and Krystal* G. SHIP represses lung inflammation and inhibits mammary tumor metastasis in BALB/c mice. [*Co-senior author; +corresponding author] Oncotarget 7(4): 3677-91, 2016.
  15. Conway EM, Pikor LA, Kung S, Hamilton MJ, Lam S, Lam* WL and Bennewith*+ KL. Macrophages, inflammation, and lung cancer. [*Co-senior author; +corresponding author] Am J Resp Crit Care (ePub ahead of print), 2015.
  16. El-Naggar AM, Veinotte CJ, Cheng H, Grunewald TG, Negri GL, Somasekharan SP, Corkery DP, Tirode F, Mathers J, Khan D, Kyle AH, Baker JH, LePard NE, McKinney S, Hajee S, Bosiljcic M, Leprivier G, Tognon CE, Minchinton AI, Bennewith KL, Delattre O, Wang Y, Dellaire G, Berman JN, Sorensen PH. Translational activation of HIF1α by YB-1 promotes sarcoma metastasis. Cancer Cell 27(5): 682-97, 2015.
  17. Chafe SC, Lou Y, Sceneay J, Vallejo M, Hamilton MJ, McDonald PC, Bennewith KL, Möller A and Dedhar S. Carbonic Anhydrase IX promotes myeloid-derived suppressor cell mobilization and establishment of a metastatic niche by stimulating G-CSF production. Cancer Res 75(6): 996-1008, 2015.
  18. Cochrane DR, Lin D, Dellaire G, Halvorsen EC, Berman JN, Wang Y, Huntsman DG and Bennewith KL. Animal models of metastasis, in Genomic Instability and Cancer Metastasis, Maxwell CA and Roskelley CD ed., Springer, 2015.

  19. Halvorsen EC, Mahmoud SM and Bennewith KL. Emerging roles of regulatory T cells in tumour progression and metastasis. Cancer Metastasis Rev 33(4): 1025-41, 2014.
  20. Rowbotham D, Enfield KSS, Martinez VD, Thu KL, Vucic EA, Stewart GL, Bennewith KL and Lam WL. Multiple components of the VHL tumor suppressor complex are frequently affected by DNA copy number loss in pheochromocytoma. Int J Endocrinology doi: 10.1155/2014/546347, 2014. [Epub ahead of print]
  21. Ho VW, Hamilton MJ, Dang NH, Hsu BE, Adomat HH, Guns ES, Weljie A, Samudio I, Bennewith KL and Krystal G.  A low carbohydrate, high protein diet combined with celecoxib markedly reduces metastasis. Carcinogenesis 35(10): 2291-9, 2014.
  22. Hamilton MJ, Bosiljcic M, Lepard NE, Halvorsen EC, Ho VW, Banáth JP, Krystal G, Bennewith KL. Macrophages are more potent immune suppressors ex vivo than immature myeloid-derived suppressor cells induced by metastatic murine mammary carcinomas. J Immunol. 192(1):512-22, 2014.
  23. Wilson IM, Vucic EA, Enfield KS, Thu KL, Zhang YA, Chari R, Lockwood WW, Radulovich N, Starczynowski DT, Banáth JP, Zhang M, Pusic A, Fuller M, Lonergan KM, Rowbotham D, Yee J, English JC, Buys TP, Selamat SA, Laird-Offringa IA, Liu P, Anderson M, You M, Tsao MS, Brown CJ, Bennewith KL, Macaulay CE, Karsan A, Gazdar AF, Lam S, Lam WL. EYA4 is inactivated biallelically at a high frequency in sporadic lung cancer and is associated with familial lung cancer risk. Oncogene. 2013 Oct 7. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.396. [Epub ahead of print].

  24. Hamilton MJ, Banath JP, Lam V, LePard NE, Krystal G, Bennewith KL. Serum inhibits the immunosuppressive function of myeloid-derived suppressor cells isolated from 4T1 tumor-bearing mice. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 61(5): 643-54, 2012.
  25. Bennewith KL, Dedhar S. Targeting hypoxic tumour cells to overcome metastasis. BMC Cancer. 11: 504-9, 2011.

  26. Bosiljcic M, Hamilton MJ, Banath JP, LePard NE, McDougal DC, Jia JX, Krystal G, Bennewith KL. Myeloid suppressor cells regulate the lung environment - letter. Cancer Res. 71(14): 5050-1, 2011.

  27. Bennewith KL, Erler JT, Giaccia AJ. Pre-metastatic niches, in Tumor Microenvironment, Siemann DW ed., Chichester, West Sussex, UK, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2011.

  28. Hamilton MJ, Antignano F, von Rossum A, Boucher JL, Bennewith KL, Krystal G. TLR agonists that induce IFN-beta abrogate resident macrophage suppression of T cells. J Immunol. 185(8): 4545-53, 2010.

  29. Ho AS, Huang X, Cao H, Christman-Skieller C, Bennewith K, Le QT, Koong AC. Circulating miR-210 as a novel hypoxia marker in pancreatic cancer. Trans Oncol. 3(2): 109-13, 2010.

  30. Cairns RA, Bennewith KL, Graves EE, Giaccia AJ, Chang DT, Denko NC. Pharmacologically increased tumor hypoxia can be measured by (18)F-fluoroazomycin arabinoside positron emission tomography and enhances tumor response to the hypoxic cytotoxin PR-104.  Clin Cancer Res. 15(23): 7170-4, 2009.

  31. Huang X, Ding L, Bennewith KL, Tong RT, Welford SM, Ang KK, Story M, Le QT, Giaccia AJ.  Hypoxia inducible miR-210 regulates normoxic gene expression involved in tumor initiation.  Mol Cell. 35(6): 856-67, 2009.

  32. Bennewith KL, Huang X, Ham CM, Graves EE, Erler JT, Kambham N, Feazell J, Yang GP, Koong A, Giaccia AJ. The role of tumor cell-derived connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) in pancreatic tumor growth. Cancer Res. 69(3): 775-84, 2009.

  33. Erler* JT, Bennewith* KL, Cox TR, Lang G, Bird D, Koong A, Le QT, Giaccia AJ. Hypoxia-induced lysyl oxidase is a critical mediator of bone marrow cell recruitment to form the pre-metastatic niche. Cancer Cell. 15(1): 35-44, 2009. [*equal contributions]

  34. Erler JT, Bennewith KL, Nicolau M, Dornhofer N, Kong C, Le QT, Chi JTA, Jeffrey SS, Giaccia AJ. Lysyl oxidase is essential for hypoxia-induced metastasis. Nature. 440(7088): 1222-6, 2006.

  35. Dornhofer N, Spong S, Bennewith K, Salim A, Klaus S, Kambham N, Wong C, Kaper F, Sutphin P, Nacamuli R, Hockel M, Le Q, Longaker M, Yang G, Koong A, Giaccia A. Connective tissue growth factor-specific monoclonal antibody therapy inhibits pancreatic tumor growth and metastasis. Cancer Res. 66(11): 5816-27, 2006.

  36. Bennewith KL, Durand RE. Quantifying transient hypoxia in human tumor xenografts by flow cytometry. Cancer Res. 64(17): 6183-9, 2004.

  37. Bennewith KL, Raleigh JA, Durand RE. Orally administered pimonidazole to label hypoxic tumor cells. Cancer Res. 62(23): 6827-30, 2002.

  38. Bennewith KL, Durand RE. Drug-induced alterations in tumour perfusion yield increases in tumour cell radiosensitivity. Br J Cancer. 85(10): 1577-84, 2001.

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