Dr. Bally is a recognized expertise in biochemistry, pharmacology/ toxicology, nanoscale drug delivery formulations and preclinical models including expertise in a variety of orthotopic and metastatic cancer models as well as pharmacodynamic analysis. He is qualified to conduct preclinical safety studies under Good Laboratory Practices and has completed training in Good Manufacturing Practices. He has trained over 60 PDFs/PhD students. Trainees currently in his lab have competitive salary support from MITACs and the Brazil government. Of those which have moved on from his lab, 10 are in tenured academic positions, 17 hold management and scientific posts in biotech companies, 4 are involved in regulatory affairs, 11 are physicians and 6 work in organizations that form an interface between industry and academia (e.g. Centre for Drug Research and Development, CDRD). He co-founded CDRD, an organization which translates academic discoveries into commercially viable technologies.
Dr. Bally’s research has resulted in >200 peer reviewed papers, >140 published abstracts, 21 book chapters, and >200 patents. Google Scholar indicates that his collective works has >22,000 citations, 250 of these have been cited >10 times. His lifetime H-index is currently 77 and since 2014 his H-index is 43. The majority of his publications appear in the top 10% of journals listed within identified SJR Subject Area Rankings. His productivity includes: (i) creation of start-up companies; (ii) publication and patents that have transformed the field of lipid-based drug delivery; (iii) an ability to sustain continuous grant funding for >25 years; (iv) mentorship of trainees who develop successful careers; and (v) development of products that benefit patients with cancer. He has advanced the field of nanotechnology by pioneering novel manufacturing, drug loading, and freeze-drying methods as well as by discovering novel compositions that define approved drugs (e.g. MyoCetTM; marketed by Teva Pharmaceuticals and MarqiboTM; marketed by Spectrum Pharmaceuticals) as well as a drug combination that may replace the standard of care for patients with high risk AML (VYXEOS™; marketed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals). Marqibo has only recently been approved so its impact on cancer patients is too early to judge; but large-scale meta-analysis of data from metastatic breast cancer patients in Europe treated with MyoCet prove that it is a safer alternative to doxorubicin. He co-invented technologies protecting fixed ratio drug combination products such as VYXEOS™. Recently he has patented the use of metal complexation reactions to associate metal complexing water soluble drugs with lipid based nanoparticulate formulations; a technology base that is currently being expanded to include water insoluble metal complexed drugs. Four companies that he co-founded (Inex-renamed Arbutus Biopharm, Northern Lipids-renamed Transferra (acquired by Evonik), Celator (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and Cuprous Pharmaceuticals) are still operating and when considered with CDRD, these organizations employ >250 FTEs in BC. Transferra was acquired by Evonik for $43M/Cdn and Celator was acquired by Jazz for $1.5B/Cdn. Since its introduction VYXEOS™ resulted in over $180 million US in sales world wide.


Head and Distinguished Scientist, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, BC Cancer

Member, Centre for Blood Research, UBC

Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, UBC

Adjunct Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC


MRC Centennial Fellow, Biochemistry, UBC, 1986-1987

MRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer, 1984-1986

Ph.D. (Biochemistry), UBC, 1984

M.Sc. (Biol.), Texas A&M University, 1979

B.Sc. (Biol.), Texas A&M University, 1977


Copper Drug Complexes: Development of a novel class drugs with significant potential for treatment of platinum insensitive cancers

One strategy that Dr. Bally has been using to develop drug candidates for use in treating cancer involves repurposing drugs utilized for the treatment of diseases other than cancer; illnesses such as malaria, fungal infections or even alcoholism. He wants to repurpose these drugs for use in patients with cancer because they have unusual and unexpected ways of affecting cancer cell growth and survival. Further these drugs are very active in cancer cells that are resistant (insensitive) to one of the most commonly used drugs available to oncologist- cisplatin.

Copper-drug complexes for use in the treatment of aggressive cancers

When some drugs bind to copper, they have anticancer activity in the lab. However, these copper-drug complexes need to be reformulated for human use. With the support of an Innovation Grant, Dr Marcel Bally developed the first injectable formulation of an anticancer copper-drug molecule. He will now create additional injectable copper-drug treatments based on several other drugs. He will then study the effectiveness of these new treatments in lung and ovarian cancers that resist chemotherapy, selecting the most powerful candidates for further study.

Selected Publications

Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Synergize with Catalytic Inhibitors of EZH2 to Exhibit Antitumor Activity in Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary, Hypercalcemic Type.

Molecular cancer therapeutics, 2018
Wang, Yemin, Chen, Shary Yuting, Colborne, Shane, Lambert, Galen, Shin, Chae Young, Santos, Nancy Dos, Orlando, Krystal A, Lang, Jessica D, Hendricks, William P D, Bally, Marcel B, Karnezis, Anthony N, Hass, Ralf, Underhill, T Michael, Morin, Gregg B, Trent, Jeffrey M, Weissman, Bernard E, Huntsman, David G

CX-5461 is a DNA G-quadruplex stabilizer with selective lethality in BRCA1/2 deficient tumours.

Nature communications, 2017
Xu, Hong, Di Antonio, Marco, McKinney, Steven, Mathew, Veena, Ho, Brandon, O'Neil, Nigel J, Santos, Nancy Dos, Silvester, Jennifer, Wei, Vivien, Garcia, Jessica, Kabeer, Farhia, Lai, Daniel, Soriano, Priscilla, Banáth, Judit, Chiu, Derek S, Yap, Damian, Le, Daniel D, Ye, Frank B, Zhang, Anni, Thu, Kelsie, Soong, John, Lin, Shu-Chuan, Tsai, Angela Hsin Chin, Osako, Tomo, Algara, Teresa, Saunders, Darren N, Wong, Jason, Xian, Jian, Bally, Marcel B, Brenton, James D, Brown, Grant W, Shah, Sohrab P, Cescon, David, Mak, Tak W, Caldas, Carlos, Stirling, Peter C, Hieter, Phil, Balasubramanian, Shankar, Aparicio, Samuel
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