Drs. Leonard Foster and Sabrina Leslie awarded CFI Innovation Fund grants

Congratulations to Dr. Leonard Foster and Dr. Sabrina Leslie on being awarded grants through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Innovation Fund! This funding will allow Foster and Leslie to acquire new equipment that will help to advance their research projects.

Their research projects will contribute to the fundamental science understanding of viral infection at the cellular level, which will help with the treatment and prevention of such infections in the future.

Learn more about our CFI award here.

Yao Zhang - Mary Adele NOrmal POstgraduate Award in Medical research

Congratulations to graduate student Yao Zhang, co-supervised by Drs. Sabrina Leslie and Pieter Cullis, for being awarded the Mary Adele Norman Postgraduate Award in Medical Research from the Faculty of Medicine.

Vancouver Nanomedicine Day 2023

In this presentation from Vancouver Nanomedicine Day 2023, Dr. Sabrina Leslie discusses her work on single-particle & single-cell imaging to quantitate biophysical properties of mRNA lipid nanoparticles & engineer improved vaccines & therapies.

NMIN Round 4 Grant (August 2023)

NMIN’s Round 4 grant is intended to support the continuation of completed NMIN Strategic Initiative research projects which demonstrate high potential for commercialization and clinical translation. The Leslie Lab is happy to announce that we have been awarded $200,000 over two years to continue the research we started in 2020 thanks to support from NMIN. 

We will aim to scale up an assay which allows our scientists to measure the size and mRNA payload for LNPs, and we will also expand on knowledge gained from the first assay by investigating how these single cells and molecules interact with other particles. 

More information on the grant can found 

Frontiers in Biophysics Conference (July 2023)

The annual Frontiers in Biophysics (FiB) conference was held here at UBC this year, with Sabrina serving as a faculty mentor to this student-run conference. This year attendance was at a record high, and it was the first time FiB had an international Keynote speaker as well as a career panel.

Participants from diverse backgrounds came together to discuss quantitative biology and biophysics, and the keynote speaker was one of our collaborators, Dr. Fredrik Höök from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Our lab attended the day’s festivities, presented posters, and networked with other Biophysics researchers.  The panel included UBC and McGill graduates, with careers in PNI/Cytiva, ScopeSys, and AbCellera, along with Dr. Höök (keynote), and Sabrina (host). We hope to continue to contribute to the growth of this yearly event.

More information can be found 

mRNA Quality Control & Comparability Summit (June 2023)

Sabrina was invited to speak at the mRNA Quality Control & Comparability Summit in Boston. This summit is part of the World RNA Series, which is a series of events disseminating information about the rapid changes in RNA-based therapeutics in order to deliver safe and effective RNA therapies to patients faster. 

This summit was intended to address the lack of standardization in quality control and evaluation processes used for mRNA medicines. This needs to be established to facilitate the rapid approval of new mRNA medicines, allowing successful treatments to make it to market faster. 

More information can be found here.

Canadian Association of Physicists Congress (June 2023)

The Canadian Association of Physicists Congress (CAP) was hosted by The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton this year and Sabrina was invited to speak on single-molecule microscopy, current applications of CLiC, and how the technology is being used to to advance nanomedicines. 

CAP brings together physicists in academia and industry from around the world to collaborate and share their research through an annual congress.

More information can be found here.

Canadian Chemistry Conference (June 2023)

A few Leslie Lab scientists attended the annual Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Vancouver this year. Dr. Albert Kamanzi (postdoctoral fellow) and Cynthia Shaheen (PhD candidate) shared their research and exchanged knowledge with leading chemists from Canada and around the world.

Congratulations to Cynthia for winning a poster prize for Physical, Theoretical and Computational posters!

More information can be found here.

NSERC Discovery Grant (April 2023)

NSERC has supported Sabrina through a lifetime of discovery, and we are happy to announce that the Leslie Lab has been awarded a five year Discovery Grant which will assist us in continuing the innovative research we conduct at the leading edge of biophysics and single-molecule microscopy.

From the NSERC PGSD Sabrina received in 2006 to this new Discovery Grant in 2023, we thank NSERC for the contributions over the years. 

More information can be found here.

Biophysical Society Meeting (February 2023)

Sabrina was invited to give a talk at the US Biophysical Society Meeting and so the Leslie Lab was represented at both the Canadian and American Biophysical Society meetings this year. 

We are proud to continue to contribute to advancements in biophysics research and to spread the knowledge we have gained internationally. We will continue to develop CLiC, find innovative applications for our technology, and spread research findings to the global scientific community. 

More information can be found here.


SPIE Photonics West BiOS Expo (January 2023)

As a part of the world’s most prominent biotechnology convention, SPIE Photonics West, Sabrina was invited to speak at the BiOS exposition which features global leaders in biophotonics and biomedical research pushing the boundaries of science and innovation.

While there, Sabrina gave a talk on Convex Lens Induced Confined (CLiC) microscopy and its advantages over existing single molecule imaging methods. Moreover, she presented its value to the accrescent field of lipid nanoparticle drug delivery  (Kamanzi et. al. ACS Nano 2021); studying structure mediated DNA interactions in disequilibrium conditions (Shaheen et. al., Nucl. Acid Research 2022); and developing genetic medication through the study of oligo-nucleic acid interaction mechanisms.

More information can be found here.

Photo Credit


PepTalk Protein Science and Production Week (January 2023)

Sabrina was invited to talk at the PepTalk 2023 conference in San Diego. We thank the organizers for the opportunity and for hosting the event. 

The theme this year was the characterization and development of vaccines, and Sabrina represented the Leslie Lab with her talk on ‘Single-Particle Imaging to Quantitate Biophysical Properties of mRNA Lipid Nanoparticles and Engineer Improved Vaccines’. She was also a panelist in a discussion on ‘Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Vaccine Development’.

More information can be found here.

NMIN Scientific Meeting (November 2022)

The NMIN scientific meeting focuses on the advancement of nanomedicine-based diagnostics and therapeutics, with the aim of benefiting patients, the national health research system, and the Canadian economy. The 2022 meeting was held in Toronto, Canada. 

We want to congratulate Dr. Daniel Berard, postdoctoral fellow at the Leslie Lab, for receiving a second-place postdoctoral prize for his poster titled “Single-Molecule Microscopy Platform for Quantifying Hybridization Kinetics and Enzyme Cleavage Efficiency.”

More information can be found here.

NMIN's Grand Challenges Grant

This grant is intended to fund ambitious research programs that offer the potential for large benefits to society. Multidisciplinary teams will conduct research that will keep Canada in the vanguard of nanomedicine technology development. 

The Leslie Lab is excited to announce that we are joining a talented team of scientists who have been awarded $1,500,000 collectively to collaborate on research which is focused on the development, optimization, and evaluation of novel nanoparticle formulations for extra-hepatic targeted gene therapy. This will be led Drs. Blakney, Cullis, Leslie, Foster, Harder, Ross, and Bertrand. 

More information can be found here


nmin GC website 2

UBC Support for Teams to Advance Interdisciplinary Research Grant (July 2022)

Interdisciplinary collaborations are necessary to tackle challenging problems in science and UBC’s Support for Teams to Advance Interdisciplinary Research (STAIR) grants serve as a starting point for impactful research that can later be taken further by external funding opportunities.

The Leslie Lab is pleased to announce that we will be conducting collaborative research with Ed Grant and his team. Our aim is to combine Convex Lens-induced Confinement (CLiC) microscopy pioneered by Sabrina with interferometric scattering microscopy (iSCAT) techniques developed by Ed to create a novel analytical tool for molecular biology.

Grant Research Group

We received our new Nikon AX R microscope and our team is very excited for the research we’ll be able to accomplish with this! We are honored to be the second laboratory in western Canada to house the AX R. Thank you to PacifiCan for making this possible!

See link for more information: AX / AX R

Telluride Science Research Center Workshop (June 2022)

Sabrina was invited to give a talk at a workshop in beautiful Telluride, Colorado and found time to do some hiking! Sabrina visits Telluride every two years and is grateful that these workshops have resumed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interdisciplinary theorists and experimentalists from a broad range of fields were brought together to discuss topics in biophysics, kinetics, imaging, and spectroscopy. While in Telluride, Sabrina had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Brian Munsky and others. We have been working closely with Dr. Munsky and his research group for many years and this has led to a recent publication in Nucleic Acids Research (Shaheen et al. 2022).  

TSRC workshop information

Frontiers in Biophysics 2022 (June 2022)

The Leslie Lab attended the Frontiers in Biophysics 2022 conference in downtown Vancouver!

We had a great time sharing our posters, watching presentations, and engaging in conversation with other biophysicists. The conference was focused on quantitative biology and biophysics and we are looking forward to next year’s event!

More information can be found here

Members of the Leslie Lab attended the 17th Liposome Research Days right here in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia!

One of our postdocs, Albert Kamanzi, gave a talk on lipid nanoparticle fusion dynamics. Other members of our lab got to watch presentations, build meaningful connections, and socialize with other researchers interested in similar topics.

Thank you to the organizers of the event! More information can be found here

The Leslie Lab was represented at the UBC School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) Symposium by several members of our team.

It was a wonderful opportunity to share our findings with the broader UBC community and we look forward to attending again next year!

More information can be found here

Sabrina receives UBC’s 2021 faculty research award with the UBC Killam Accelerator Research Fellowship (KARF), supporting early-career researchers ready to launch the next stage of their careers. Find the official announcement here.

Faculty Research Awards, such as the KARF, recognize the research excellence and scholarly achievements of faculty from across all disciplines, ranging from medicine and applied and natural sciences to arts, social sciences and humanities. Recipients span from early career researchers to senior members of faculty.

Winners were selected by UBC’s Faculty Research Award Committee.

The Office of the VP, Research and Innovation will be hosting a reception on June 3, 2022 to acknowledge the achievements of researchers.

Congratulations to all recipients!

Biophysical Society of Canada Annual Meeting (May 2022)

Two of our PhD students, Cindy Shaheen and Frank Stabile, attended the Biophysical Society of Canada’s annual meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. Frank presented a poster on CRISPR kinetics and Cindy presented a poster and a student talk on DNA structural dynamics.

Congratulations to Cindy for winning the BSC travel award!

More information can be found here

This year’s symposium gathered top researchers working in small RNAs to discuss their biology and to foster the invention of powerful clinical tools by employing RNAs in novel ways.

Sabrina was invited to speak in Santa Fe, New Mexico where Convex Lens-induced Confinement (CLiC) microscopy was recognized as an emerging technology important to RNA-based therapeutics.

More information can be found here

NMIN Undergraduate Studentship Awardees 2022

Faith Liu

University of British Columbia

Supervisor: Dr. Sabrina Leslie

Project Summary: This project will study changes in the biophysical properties of mRNA-delivery lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) as a function of buffer pH and ionic strength, toward better understanding the mechanisms of action of these important classes of LNP-RNA therapeutics and vaccines.

Career Aspirations: My career goal is to work in biological and medical science, toward helping society through new research and discoveries.

Amanda Yao

University of British Columbia

Supervisor: Dr. Sabrina Leslie

Project Summary: This project will advance a fluorophore-quencher probe to use as a diagnostic tool to quantitate specific, single-stranded DNA of interest with single-molecule sensitivity.

Career Aspirations: I hope to continue my studies in PharmD and pursue a career in pharmaceutical sciences, working on drug development with a focus on researching new drug delivery techniques.

Formerly known as Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), the PacifiCan Award is administered in British Columbia to promote a strong, competitive economy by supporting business, innovation, and economic development.

Our lab has received 1.75 million dollars in funding for 3 new microscope platforms and we congratulate Dr. Leonard Foster for also receiving 1.75 million dollars in funding for mass spectrometers here at the Michael Smith Laboratories.

More information can be found here

Biophysics Day 2022 (Feb 2022)

Earlier this week we got together with the other Biophysics labs at UBC for the first-ever Biophysics Day event. Each group introduced their research with a series of fantastic graduate student presentations and it was an amazing chance to meet folks within the department.

Huge thanks to the Michal, Plotkin, and Rottler labs for joining us and to the student committee for organizing the event. Looking forward to the next one!

New Publication: Shaheen et al.

Non-equilibrium structural dynamics of supercoiled DNA plasmids exhibits asymmetrical relaxation 

We are very pleased to announce that Cindy Shaheen, a senior PhD student in our lab, recently published an article in Nucleic Acids Research. This work uses convex lens-induced confinement (CLiC) to study the non-equilibrium dynamics of highly structured plasmid DNA from a single-molecule perspective. You can read more about her exciting work here:

We would also like to give thanks to our incredible collaborators David Levens and Fed Kouzine at the NIH, Craig Benham at UC Davis, and Brian Munsky at Colorado State University for their invaluable support along the way.

Congratulations Cindy for this huge achievement! The publication can be found here

NMIN Strategic Initiative Program (Jan 2021)

NMIN’s Strategic Initiatives (SI) program aims to support quick responses to time sensitive research problems, commercialization of IP, mobilization of knowledge garnered from NMIN-funded research, and growth of the Canadian nanomedicines field through support of new and existing companies. 

The image below is a NMIN PharmaCore resource. The original image and more information can be found here.  

The Big Move - McGill to UBC (Jan 2021)

Here’s to new beginnings! The Leslie Lab will be relocating from McGill to the University of British Columbia. 

Thank you to our colleagues at McGill for everything you have done for us, it’s never easy to say goodbye. We are excited for what’s to come and we will be resuming research operations shortly.