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Blake Gilks, MD, FRCPC

Head of Department, Professor

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Faculty of Medicine

Co-Founder, OVCARE

Dr. Blake Gilks is Professor in the Dept of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver Canada, and does clinical service work in the Division of Anatomic Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital, the site of the largest gynecological oncology program in the province of British Columbia, where he is Regional Medical Director of Laboratories and Head of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He graduated from Dalhousie University medical school in 1982 and did a residency in anatomical pathology at the University of British Columbia, followed by fellowships in gynecological pathology and molecular pathology at Massachusett’s General Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center, respectively. Dr. Gilks leads a research program focused on gynecological cancers and is co-founder of the Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre, a laboratory that uses tissue microarrays of human tumor samples for cancer research, and OvCaRe, a multidisciplinary team studying ovarian cancer. He is also co-founder and co-director of the Canadian Immunohistochemistry Quality Control program, which provides proficiency testing for Canadian diagnostic immunohistochemistry laboratories.

Current Research Focus

Dr. Gilks leads a research program focused on gynecological cancers and is co-founder of the Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre, a laboratory that uses tissue microarrays of human tumor samples for cancer research, and OvCaRe, a multidisciplinary team studying ovarian cancer. He is also co-founder and co-director of the Canadian Immunohistochemistry Quality Control program, which provides proficiency testing for Canadian diagnostic immunohistochemistry laboratories.

Example Project(s)

“Ovarian cancer subtype diagnosis”: Up until very recently ovarian cancer was viewed biologically, and treated clinically as a single disease. In the course of reviewing >500 ovarian carcinoma cases approximately 10 years ago (with the primary goal of establishing a resource for molecular studies) it became clear that there are 5 distinct subtypes of ovarian carcinoma that they are readily and reproducibly diagnosable in practice, by making minor changes to the diagnostic criteria in current use. It was also clear that mixtures of these subtypes within a single tumor are distinctly uncommon. The implications of these observations are that any given ovarian carcinoma can be accurately diagnosed as one of a limited number of possible subtypes, and that contrary to conventional thinking, these subtypes are infrequently admixed within a single patient's tumor. This precipitated a series of studies that has established beyond doubt that these 5 subtypes differ with respect to genetic risk factors, molecular abnormalities, patterns of spread, stage at presentation, and response to chemotherapy; in other words, they are different diseases. We have recently shown in studies in Canada and Scandinavia, that these diagnostic criteria allow a high degree of diagnostic accuracy in clinical practice. WHO and FIGO (Federation Internationale de Obstetrics et Gynecology) updates, that came out in 2014, reflect this now universally accepted approach to classification and include these changes. Our current work focuses on identification of molecular classifiers that work within each of these five ovarian cancer histotypes, and extending this work to endometrial and vulvar cancer.

Research Keywords

Cancer, Breast and Gynecological Pathology, Molecular Pathology, Cell Biology