Bally, Marcel

Portrait photo of Marcel  Bally

Bally, Marcel

BSc, MSc (Texas), PhD (Brit. Col.)

Academic Rank(s)

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


Short Bio

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

Academic Background

  • MRC Centennial Fellow, Biochemistry – U.B.C
  • MRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Terry Fox Laboratory – BC Cancer Agency
  • PhD (Biochemistry), UBC, 1984
  • MSc (Biol.), Texas A&M University, 1979
  • BSc (Biol.), Texas A&M University, 1977

Awards and Recognition


Dr. Bally, Marcel  PUBMED


Research Interest

The research conducted in my laboratory focuses on developing improved protocols for the treatment of cancer. Clinicians have an arsenal of very potent drugs available for treatment of cancer. These drugs, however, lack specificity and often produce severe, life threatening, toxicities. Further, optimal therapeutic effects of any anticancer drug appear to be dependent on their use in a combination setting. Multi-agent therapy is the standard by which cancer is treated. Based on this understanding, research in my laboratory is designing methods and strategies for capturing the benefits of drug combination effects that are often first measured using cell based screening assays. Although basic research interests include evaluation of novel targeted anticancer drugs, my group is also comprehensively pursuing combinations of existing, already approved, cytotoxic agents. The latter studies will provide the proof of concept data needed to demonstrate the value of pursuing anticancer drug combination products. These products will be of particular interest when used with emerging targeted agents, but will also demonstrate the potential to develop new products that may consist of two or more targeted agents.

In order to achieve this, my research group embraces two fundamental principles: (i) drug combination products will be dependent on use of drug carrier technologies and (ii) drug combination products should achieve optimal therapeutic effects using better tolerated drug doses. I have extensive expertise on the use of liposome drug carriers for improving the specificity of anti-cancer drugs as well as enabling the use of some exciting new biologically active agents, such as therapeutically active antibodies, nucleic acid drugs (antisense oligonucleotides and siRNA) and therapeutically active peptides. In general terms, liposomes are small microscopic bags prepared from natural and synthetic lipids (fats). The therapeutic activity of conventional anti-cancer drugs can be improved, sometimes dramatically, when given intravenously trapped inside these lipid bags. Mechanistically, it has been suggested that liposomal drugs deliver more drug to tumors then conventional drug and development of this technology has been based on achieving improvements in drug delivery to sites of cancer growth. It is believed that delivery of liposomal drug carriers from the blood to interstitial sites within the tumor is due to characteristics of tumor blood vessels. In addition, my research clearly establishes that drug release from liposomes, whether in the blood compartment or within the tumor, can increase tumor cell exposure to anticancer drugs. Based on this understanding, my lab is now using drug carriers, such as liposomes, to provide the format to deliver combinations of drugs that are shown, via high content cell screening assays, to interact to achieve better than expect (synergistic) therapeutic activity.

Current Projects In My Lab Include


Teaching Interest