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Sarah MacPherson, MSc

Research Assistant III

During my Biochemistry undergraduate degree at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, I became very interested in cell metabolism research. I moved to Victoria to study lymphocyte metabolism in Dr. Julian Lum’s laboratory in the fall of 2013. Under Julian’s supervision I studied transcriptional regulation of a metabolic enzyme during the initiation of lymphocyte cell growth.


Since graduating with my M.Sc. in Biochemistry, I have continued my research in Julian’s lab, studying various T cell expansion conditions used in clinical and pre-clinical models for cell based immunotherapy. We are interested in understanding how to enhance T cell metabolism to improve T expansion ex vivo, and fitness in vivo upon adoptive transfer into patients.

I’m also working on an observational study in ovarian cancer patients studying T cell and tumour cell metabolism within the tumour microenvironment using a [U-13C]glucose tracer (iMETABO, Identifier: NCT05025878). This is the first [U-13C]glucose tracer study in Canada and the first to use [U-13C]glucose to study both tumor and immune cell metabolism in situ.


  1. Neilson D, MacPherson S, Townsend KN, Lum JJ. Tumor vascularity in ovarian cancer: T cells need breathing room. Oncoimmunology. 2014;3:e28272–e28272.

  2. Schlie K, Westerback A, DeVorkin L, Hughson LR, Brandon JM, MacPherson S, et al. Survival of Effector CD8 + T Cells during Influenza Infection Is Dependent on Autophagy. J Immunol. 2015 May 1;194(9):4277–86.

  3. MacPherson S, Horkoff M, Gravel C, Hoffmann T, Zuber J, Lum JJ. STAT3 Regulation of Citrate Synthase Is Essential during the Initiation of Lymphocyte Cell Growth. Cell Rep. 2017 May 2;19(5):910–8.

  4. MacPherson S, Kilgour M, Lum JJ. Understanding lymphocyte metabolism for use in cancer immunotherapy. FEBS J. 2018 Jul;285(14):2567–78.

  5. Kilgour MK, MacPherson S, Zacharias LG, Ellis AE, Sheldon RD, Liu EY, Keyes S, Pauly B, Carleton G, Allard B, Smazynski J, Williams KS, Watson PH, Stagg J, Nelson BH, DeBerardinis RJ, Jones RG, Hamilton PT, Lum JJ. 1-Methylnicotinamide is an immune regulatory metabolite in human ovarian cancer. Sci Adv. 2021 Jan

  6. MacPherson S, Keyes S, Kilgour MK, Smazynski J, Chan V, Sudderth J, Turcotte T, Devlieger A, Yu J, Huggler KS, Cantor JR, DeBerardinis RJ, Siatskas C, Lum JJ. Clinically relevant T cell expansion media activate distinct metabolic programs uncoupled from cellular function. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2022 Feb

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