Academic Rank:
Clinical Professor, UBC
Distinguished Scientist – Imaging Unit – Integrative Oncology
Short Bio:

Dr. Mladen Korbelik obtained his Ph.D. degree in Biology from the University of Zagreb (Croatia) in 1979. He is a Distinguished Scientist in British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and a Clinical Professor at the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine (Faculty of Medicine) of the University of British Columbia. Dr. Korbelik lists more than 200 publications and a similar number of presentations at scientific conferences (over 60 as an invited speaker), has organized/co-chaired over 20 scientific symposia and serves on editorial board of scientific journals. He has led grant-supported scientific pre-clinical research projects for over 25 years. He is a Board Member and the Founding Fellow of PanAmerican Photodynamic Association and on the Directorship Board of International Photodynamic Association.

His activity as a researcher in tumor biology and cancer therapy has been focused during the past 25 years on the field of photodynamic therapy (PDT). He is especially interested in various aspects of host response elicited by PDT. This includes not only innate and adaptive immune response raised against the treated tumor but also inflammatory and acute phase responses with neural and hormonal components. Topics addressed in his current research include the role of sphingolipids in tumor response to PDT and potentiation of the efficacy of PDT-generated cancer vaccines.

Academic background

  • PhD (Biology), University of Zagreb, Croatia, 1979
  • MSc (Experimental Biology), University of Zagreb, Croatia, 1974
  • BSc (Chemistry), University of Zagreb, Croatia, 1970


  • Korbelik, M., Banáth, J., Canals, D., Hannun, Y.A., Separovic, D.: Ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate act as photodynamic therapy-elicited damage-associated molecular patterns: Cell surface exposure. Int. Immunopharmacol., 20: 359-365, 2014.
  • Korbelik, M., Banáth, J., Zhang, W., Wong, F., Bielawski, J., Separovic, D.: Ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate/sphingosine act as photodynamic therapy-elicited damage-associated molecular patterns: Release from cells and impact on tumor-associated macrophages. J Anal Bioanal Tech S1: 009, 2014 (doi: 10.4172/2155-9872.S1-009).
  • Kepp, O., Senovilla, L., Vitale, I., Vacchelli, E., Adjemian, S., Agostinis, P., Apetoh, L., Aranda, F., Barnaba, V., Bloy, N., Bracci, L., Breckpot, K., Brough, D., Baque, A., Castro, M.G., Cirone, M., Colombo, M.I., Cremer, I., Demaria, S., Dini, L., Eliopoulos, A., Faggioni, A., Forment, S.C., Fučikova, J., Gabriele, L., Gaipl, U.S., Galon, J., Garg, A., Ghiringhelli, F., Giese, N.A., Guo, Z.S., Hemminki, A., Herrmann, M., Hodge, J.W., Holdenrieder, S., Honeychurch, J., Hu, H.-M., Huang, X., 2014
  • Boppana, NB, Kodiha, M., Stochaj, U., Lin, H.-S., Haimovitz-Friedman, A., Bielawska, A., Bielawski, J., Divine, G.W., Boyd, J.A., Korbelik, M., Separovic, D.: Ceramide synthase inhibitor fumonisin B inhibits apoptotic cell death in SCC17B human head and neck squamous carcinoma cells after Pc4 photosensitization. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci, 2014 (in press).
  • Lucas, L.J., Chen, X.K., Smith, A.J., Korbelik, M., Zeng, H., Lee, P.W.K., Hewitt, K.C.: Aggregation of nanoparticles in endosomes and lysosomes produce surface enhance Raman spectroscopy. J. Nanoparticles, 2014 (submitted).
  • Korbelik, M., Banáth, J., Saw, K.M., Zhang, W., Čiplys, E.: Calreticulin as cancer treatment adjuvant: combination with photodynamic therapy and photodynamic therapy-generated vaccines. Frontiers in Tumor Oncology (submission October 2014).
  • Korbelik, M., Zhang, W., Saw, K.M., Szulc, Z.M., Bielawska, A. and Separovic, D.: Cationic ceramides and analogues, LCL30 and LCL85, as adjuvants to photodynamic therapy of tumors. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B:Biol. 126: 72-77, 2013.
  • Separovic, D., Breen, P., Boppana, N.B., Van Buren, E., Joseph, N., Kraveka J.M., Rahmaniyan, M, Li, L., Gudz, T.I., Bielawska, A., Bai, A., Bielawski, J., Pierce, J.S., Korbelik, M.: Increased killing of SCCVII squamous cell carcinoma cells after the combination of Pc 4 photodynamic therapy and dasatinib is associated with enhanced caspase-3 activity and ceramide synthase 1 upregulation. Int. J. Oncol. 43: 2064-2072, 2013 (doi: 10.3892/ijo.2013.2132).
  • Korbelik, M., Madiyalakan, R., Woo, T. and Haddadi, A.: Antitumor efficacy of photodynamic therapy using novel nanoformulations of hypocrellin photosensitizer SL052. Photochem. Photobiol., 88: 188-193, 2012.
  • Korbelik, M. and Merchant, S.: Photodynamic therapy-generated cancer vaccine elicits acute phase and hormonal response in treated mice. Cancer Immunol. Immunother., 61: 1387-1394, 2012.
Primary Research Area
Secondary Research Area
Infectious Diseases and Immunopathology
Molecular Pathology and Cell Biology
Knowledge translation

Research Interest

  • Cell biology
  • tumor biology
  • photodynamic therapy
  • cancer immunotherapy
  • radiobiology
  • experimental oncology
  • (PDT) Photodynamic Therapy: My laboratory is involved in pre-clinical studies aimed at improving therapy of solid cancers. A major focus is on the investigation of the mechanism of antitumor effects of photodynamic therapy (PDT). This novel type of cancer treatment (which is now a regulatory approved clinical modality) is still under intense development. The research in my laboratory has contributed to the understanding of photosensitizer (i.e. phototoxic drug used for PDT) accumulation in tumors, particularly the role of serum proteins, tumor vasculature and tumor associated macrophages in this event. Our work has shown that PDT treatment of solid cancers elicits a strong host response, which contributes to the therapy outcome. We are studying the role of the engaged inflammatory effector systems, including neutrophils, complement and coagulation/fibrinolytic cascades.