Dr Jonathan Blay is a career researcher with particular interests in the relationships between cells and their surrounding 3-dimensional environment, as well as the influences that can affect cell behaviour. His past research has had a substantial impact in our understanding of cancer, a disease that has also received Dr Blay's attention in administration and the support of patients. His further commitment is in the area of mentoring and training of new scientists at all levels.
Dr Blay is Professor of Pharmacy in the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo and an adjunct Professor of Pathology in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University. His training includes a PhD from Cambridge University (United Kingdom) and a position as an Alberta Heritage Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, and has Chartered Scientist and Chartered Biologist designations from the Science Council of the United Kingdom.
The main focus of his team’s current research is to establish how the location of cells within complex 3-dimensional structures affects their behaviour. This relates to how cancer cells behave in a tumour, populations of cells disperse and survive in the natural environment, and how cells can best be used in engineered artificial tissues for implant and experimental use.
In addition to his own research efforts, Dr Blay has been widely engaged in initiatives to promote 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 (BHCRI), a pioneering effort that brought together these different research perspectives across the Atlantic Provinces of Eastern Canada, and received an 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”.
Dr Blay has received many prizes for his teaching to undergraduate students in the sciences, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, including "Professor of the Year" and the "Community of Scholars Award of Excellence in Medical Education" from Dalhousie Medical School. His current teaching at UWaterloo is primarily in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, in which he coordinates a Seminar Course on research-related topics (PHARM391) as well as teaching pharmacology in the "Integrated Patient Focused Care" courses PHARM320 and PHARM321. He also contributes to preclinical teaching at the Waterloo Campus of McMaster Medical School and in 2017 will be teaching basic pharmacology in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Waterloo.
As well as graduate teaching and mentoring Dr Blay has held the positions of Assistant Dean, Research (Student Programs and Research Promotion) at Dalhousie Medical School, and Associate Director for Research and Graduate Studies in the School of Pharmacy. His current graduate courses, open to both laboratory-based and pharmacy students, are PHARM608 "Cellular and Tissue Considerations in Cancer Treatment" and PHARM613 "Principles and Practices in Systemic Treatments for Cancer".
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 has participated in judging high school and regional science fairs, as a mentor in the Sanofi-Aventis Bio-Talent Challenge, and in science clubs.
Dr Blay works to support the roles of libraries in promoting science and medicine, particularly through the free dissemination of digital information. He has functioned extensively within the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and was inaugural recipient of the CRKN Ron MacDonald Distinguished Service Award, “... 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.”
Dr Blay is a Lifetime Member of the BHCRI, NSIS and Cambridge Philosophical Society.