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Genomics and Computational Biology

Dr. Sam Aparicio

Dr. Aparicio’s research program encompasses the fields of cancer genomics, cancer evolution, single cell biology, mouse genetic models, high throughput screens, small molecule chemical probe development and translational breast cancer research. His work on the molecular taxonomy of breast cancer led to identification of new genes that could change the way breast cancer is diagnosed, and form the basis of next-generation treatments.

Dr. Angie Brooks-Wilson

Dr. Brooks-Wilson leads a cancer genetics research laboratory at the Genome Sciences Centre of the British Columbia Cancer Agency here in Vancouver, BC.  Her current work focuses on the genetics of healthy aging and the genetics of susceptibility to cancer, particularly lymphoid cancers, in families and populations. She leads the Healthy Aging Study in which exceptionally healthy elderly individuals (‘Super-Seniors’) are helping to determine the genetic influences that contribute to healthy aging and protect against age-related diseases.

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Dr. Mads Daugaard

Dr. Mads Daugaard is a molecular biologist specialized in pre-clinical and translational cancer research. He earned his PhD degree in 2007 from the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, for his studies on heat shock proteins in relation to cancer cell survival mechanisms. After completing his PhD, Dr. Daugaard received a junior fellowship award to continue his work at the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre on stress signaling pathways related to DNA damage response mechanisms. In 2010, Dr. Daugaard received a research award from the Danish Cancer Society to do postdoctoral training in molecular pathology at the BC Cancer Research Centre and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia (UBC).

In 2014, Dr. Daugaard was recruited to the Vancouver Prostate Centre as a Senior Research Scientist and a faculty member of the Department of Urological Sciences at UBC. His ongoing research focuses on molecular and biochemical events underlying sugar-modifications of proteins in solid tumors, chromatin context-dependent DNA repair mechanisms, chemotherapy resistance mechanisms, and immune-evasion mechanisms in cancer.

Dr. Daugaard has published original research in top-tier scientific journals and received competitive national and international research funding support from institutions such as the US Department of Defense (DoD), the National Cancer Institutes (NIH), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) initiative, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (SBF), and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institutes (VCHRI). Dr. Daugaard was honoured with the Prostate Cancer Canada Rising Star Award in 2014 and the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award in 2019.

Dr. Daugaard is a biotech entrepreneur and a co-founder of the biotech companies VAR2 Pharmaceuticals (2012), VarCT Diagnostics (2017), Rakovina Therapeutics (2020), and SnapCyte Solutions (2022).

Dr. Connie Eaves

Experiments in this laboratory and elsewhere have established the existence in adults (both mouse and man) of primitive hematopoietic stem cells capable of permanently reconstituting the production of mature blood cells in marrow-ablated or suppressed recipients. A major part of our work continues to focus on the development, validation and use of quantitative assays that are specific for biologically distinct subsets of these stem cells using syngeneic (mouse-mouse) and xenogeneic (human-mouse) hosts. We have also identified a developmental “switch” that alters stem cell proliferation and self-renewal control in the post-natal period. We are now trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying each of these causes of variable stem cell behavior using defined culture systems, gene transfer strategies, and genome-wide gene expression analyses. We have pioneered the development of quantitative assays for normal mouse and human breast epithelial stem cells and these are being used to identify their distinguishing features and growth regulation. Studies to adapt these methods for application to human breast cancer are underway. The objective is to provide a basis for analyzing molecular and genetic determinants of breast cancer at the level of the breast cancer stem cell and thereby develop more rational, patient-targeted therapies.

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Dr. Alina Gerrie

Dr. Alina Gerrie is a hematologist and Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Clinician Investigator at the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer at BC Cancer. Dr. Gerrie is involved in translational, clinical trial and outcomes-based research related to leukemia and lymphoma. Other academic interests include the investigation of novel therapeutics and stem cell transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and lymphoma and improving long-term outcomes for lymphoma and stem cell transplant survivors. Dr. Gerrie currently holds a Michael Smith Health Research Investigator Award and grant funding through the Mitacs Accelerate Program and Cancer Research Society to investigate the impact of genetic abnormalities on population-level outcomes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. She is a co-investigator on a Genome Canada Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) to advance personalized treatments of lymphoid cancer patients in collaboration with Drs. Christian Steidl and David Scott, and is a collaborator on a number of CIHR grants and industry-sponsored clinical trials.

Dr. Philip Hieter

Our general approach is to develop and apply genetic and biochemical methodologies in the model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (bakers yeast), to obtain an understanding of molecular components required for chromosome transmission, with the overarching goal of relating our work in yeast to human cancer. We have established an extensive genome instability gene catalog in yeast that provides a resource to identify cross species, candidate human genes that are somatically mutated and could cause chromosome instability (CIN) in cancer. Our functional studies of selected CIN genes in yeast have elucidated mechanistic insights into various aspects of the chromosome cycle, including sister chromatid cohesion, kinetochores, DNA replication and repair, and cell cycle checkpoints. We have also developed a strategy to identify genes in yeast synthetic lethal (SL) interaction networks as a means for identifying novel cancer drug targets. Our research involves a direct path from identification and mechanistic studies of CIN genes in yeast, to mining sequence data for orthologs mutated in cancer, to interrogation of the function of somatic variants and finally the identification of (1) therapeutic target genes defined by synthetic lethality and (2) small-molecule inhibitors of those targets.

Dr. Martin Hirst

Dr. Hirst’s research aims to further our understanding of the role of epigenetic dysfunction in cancer initiation and progression and to translate this knowledge into improved health outcomes for Canadians.

International efforts to characterize genetic lesions in cancer genomes have revealed recurrent mutations in epigenetic modifiers and in some cases these can represent the sole driver. Understanding the functional implications of these mutations, their contribution to abnormal cellular differentiation and how emerging epigenetic therapeutics may counteract their effects represent the next critical steps towards translating this knowledge.  In this context, Dr. Hirst is studying cancers that harbor highly recurrent gain and loss of function mutations to epigenetic modifiers, such as acute myeloid leukemia, synovial sarcoma, malignant rhabdoid tumor.   His research involves the development and application of molecular and computational tools to measure epigenetic features and drive new insights into normal and pathogenic epigenetic regulatory control.

Dr. Rob Holt

The Holt Lab uses cutting edge tools and methodologies to investigate the biology of cancer from several different angles. Focusing on the immune system, the group has used deep sequencing to survey T cell repertoire diversity at the resolution of individual clonotypes and are now using these methodologies to explore the role of T cells in cancer. They are also working to develop cancer immunotherapies using engineered T cells to selectively deliver cytotoxic payloads to bolster the anti-cancer immune response and to enhance tumour cell killing. The group employs their expertise in DNA sequencing and computational analyses to investigate the role of infectious agents in cancer development and were the first to demonstrate a strong link between the pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum and colorectal cancer. Finally, they apply deep sequencing technologies to identify the spectrum of mutations in various cancer types, with a particular focus on tumour evolution and the identification of antigens for cancer vaccines.

Dr. David Huntsman

Dr. David Huntsman is the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Professor of Gynaecologic Oncology, holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular and Genomic Pathology, and is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynaecology at The University of British Columbia. He is a Staff Pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency and a Consulting Pathologist at the Vancouver General Hospital. Dr. Huntsman’s research has led to the development of predictive and prognostic tissue-based cancer biomarkers for ovarian cancer and a wide variety of other tumour types. His team created a blueprint for histotype specific ovarian cancer control and have been leaders in the application of novel genomics technologies to ovarian cancer. Recently, his team applied next generation sequencing technologies to ovarian cancers and discovered key mutations in granulosa cell tumours, clear cell and endometrioid carcinomas, sertoli-leydig cell tumours of the ovary and small cell carcinomas of the ovary. His team is working to determine the biologic and clinical relevance of these discoveries with a view to developing new treatment, diagnostic and prevention opportunities. Dr. Huntsman has published >300 publications, many in high impact journals such as Nature, N Engl J Med, Cell, JAMA, and Nat Genetics. He has secured over $20M of research funding as Principal Investigator plus an additional $73M as a co-Investigator. His research has attracted collaborative industry projects from Sanofi, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, and Pfizer.

Dr. Steven Jones

In 2005 Steven Jones was identified as one of Canada's top 40 professionals under 40 by Caldwell Partners International as well as by Business in Vancouver.  He also received the Spencer Award for IT innovation as well as the 2007 Medical Genetics teaching award for UBC. Further contributions include his involvement as the founding director of the CIHR/MSFHR Bioinformatics Training Program as well as director of the University of British Columbia Bioinformatics Graduate Program. In 2011 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for his contributions to Genomics and Bioinformatics. In 2012, Dr Jones was a recipient of the prestigious UBC Killam teaching prize in recognition of his contributions to graduate bioinformatic education.  In May of 2014 Dr. Jones was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by the Faculty of Medicine at UBC and in June 2014 he became a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Dr Jone’s research program is firmly entrenched in cancer genomics to understand the mutational landscape of cancer. The goal of this is to help understand the diversity of oncogenic driving events that accrue and give rise to cancer and ensure its progression. The computational detection and study of the oncogenic events should also provide an understanding of how the disease might be mitigated and therapeutics might be targeted - either by more precisely aligning known therapeutics with the observed mutational profile or by using the mutational information to help identify novel therapeutic targets. My laboratory has been extensively analyzing data next-generation to achieve these goals and have developed a number of computational approaches and methodologies to this end. 

Dr. Aly Karsan

My lab focuses on two major areas in normal and malignant blood cell formation: (1) Understanding the molecular basis of myeloid malignancies, such as the preleukemic bone marrow failure condition called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and acute myeloid leukemia (AML); and (2) Determining the role of the endothelium in the development of the hematopoietic system.

With respect to the myeloid malignancies, we have a major focus on understanding the relationship of non-coding RNAs and the regulation of the epigenome.  We have taken genomic approaches to study patient material followed by functional analyses of specific microRNAs. One example of translation of genomic studies to understanding biologic function is our discovery that microRNAs residing on the long arm of chromosome 5 act to independently regulate innate immune signaling and DNA methylation. Deletion of chromosome arm 5q is the commonest structural anomaly seen in MDS, and current studies centre around establishing the function of these microRNAs, deregulated innate immune signaling and remodeling of the epigenome in the manifestations of MDS.

We have also identified specific defects in the ubiquitin pathway in AML that are potentially tied to regulation of the epigenome, and we are using proteomic, genomic and in vivo methods to define the role of this pathway in leukemogenesis and hematopoietic stem cell function.  We are using a variety of in vivo transplantation assays, in vitro cell biology and cell signaling studies as well as additional genomic approaches to answer these questions.

Dr. Nathan Lack

Dr. Nathan Lack is a Senior Research Scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

He obtained a DPhil (PhD) in Pharmacology from the University of Oxford in 2009 and then did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Vancouver Prostate Centre with Dr. Emma Guns and Professor Paul Rennie. Nathan became an Assistant Professor at Koç University in the School of Medicine (Istanbul) in 2011 and was awarded Associate Professorship in 2015. In addition to his academic research, Nathan previously worked for AnorMED Inc., where he was involved in the development of the FDA-approved therapeutic Plerixafor.

His laboratory works to better understand the molecular underpinnings of prostate cancer to develop more effectively treatments for this common disease. Extensive clinical and basic research has shown that Androgen Receptor (AR)-mediated transcription drives the proliferation and growth of almost all prostate cancers. His group currently studies a diverse group of problems related to AR signaling including:

  • Identification of small molecule AR inhibitors that target novel sites

  • Characterization of non-coding mutations that affect androgen receptor signaling

  • Development of novel functional genomic techniques to study AR-mediated transcription

 Since it’s initiation, the Lack laboratory has obtained extensive funding from national, international and industrial sources.

Dr. Wan Lam

Dr. Lam’s laboratory at the BC Cancer Research Institute is known for multi-dimensional approaches to develop combinatorial detection and treatment strategies. His team has developed whole-genome technologies and bioinformatic tools for tracking genetic, epigenetic, and gene expression events in order to identify genes and pathways critical to cancer progression and treatment responses. His research team focuses on (1) the involvement of developmental genes and non-coding RNA in cancer (2) the biology of lung cancer and COPD in smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers, (3) immune cells in the tumour microenvironment, (4) the genetic basis of aggressiveness, metastasis, and treatment response, and (5) molecular mechanisms of environmental carcinogenesis.

Dr. William Lockwood

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide, suffering from a late stage of disease at the time of diagnosis and a paucity of effective therapeutic strategies to treat advanced tumours. However, with our increasing understanding of lung cancer biology has come the advent of targeted therapies to combat this devastating disease. These therapies target mutated components of key cellular pathways on which tumours have become dependent on for survival, yielding drastic initial response rates without the major side effects of traditional chemotherapies. Despite these successes two major problems remain: first, the majority of lung cancer patients have tumours without mutations in targetable genes and; second, all patients eventually develop resistance to treatment with these targeted agents. In addition, since lung tumours commonly have hundreds of mutated genes, it is difficult to pinpoint those that are responsible for tumour growth and resistance to therapy, creating a clear bottleneck in the translation of laboratory findings to a clinical setting.

My lab utilizes an integrative strategy to address these issues. Through analysis of the genomic profiles of human lung tumours, we aim to identify novel genes and pathways that are altered during lung cancer development. Furthermore, by combining this information with the characterization of mice genetically engineered to develop lung tumours, we attempt to elucidate the key genes driving lung cancer initiation, progression and response to therapy. Lastly, by screening libraries of chemical compounds across lung cancer cells, we aim to characterize novel inhibitors of these identified genes and their corresponding pathways that show promise for use as targeted therapies. Together, this work will further our understanding of lung cancer biology and create insight toward the development of new approaches to diagnose and treat patients suffering from this disease.

Dr. Jonathan Loree

Jonathan Loree is a medical oncologist at BC Cancer with an interest in GI malignancies. He completed his medical oncology fellowship at BC Cancer and subsequently undertook a translational research fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he completed a Master’s of Science before returning to British Columbia. His research focus is translational research and biomarker development in colorectal cancer and neuroendocrine neoplasms and he serves as the co-chair of the colon cancer disease site for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group.

Dr. Marco Marra

I am Professor and Head of Medical Genetics at UBC; UBC Canada Research Chair in Genome Science and the Director of the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre (GSC). I was trained as a geneticist, and have been involved in the development and application of high-throughput genomics strategies, with special emphasis on large-scale DNA sequencing and bioinformatics. I have spent much of my career working within and leading teams to conduct large-scale high throughput genomics projects.

A current focus of my research activities is the development and application of “next generation” sequencing approaches to characterize cancer genomes, transcriptomes and epigenomes, with the aim of comprehensive identification of the genetic and epigenetic changes that drive cancer progression. With such data, and as co-Leader of the BC Cancer Agency Personalized Oncogenomics Project (, my objective is a new generation of diagnostic, prognostic and treatment strategies to benefit cancer patients.

A second focus of my research revolves around the functional interplay between cancer genomes and epigenomes. My team has described the strikingly high frequency of mutations in transcriptional regulators, including chromatin modifiers, implying they are “cancer genes” and that mutations in them drive cancers. The interplay between the genome and the epigenome is thus exploited by cancer cells, but exactly how, the extent to which common mechanisms exist across cancers and whether answers to such questions might reveal therapeutic opportunities all require investigation. My team is analyzing the cancer regulatory networks impacted by epigenome dysregulation using cell biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and functional genomics tools, and we aim to understand the selective advantages conferred to cancer cells as a consequence of such dysregulation. My objectives are to: (1) Identify and characterize regulatory networks disrupted by epigenome dysreulation in cancer; (2) Assess the extent to which epigenome dysregulation converges on common pathways/networks in different malignancies; (3) Identify candidate therapeutic vulnerabilities resulting from epigenome dysregulation.

Dr. Gregg Morin

The general theme of our research program is to understand the functional mechanisms of somatically mutated or differentially expressed proteins in cancer pathology. The research integrates proteomic, genomic, chemical biology and bioinformatic technologies with more traditional biochemical and molecular biology methodologies. Our goal is to develop large scale integrative programs to understand the causes, and identify therapeutic targets, for multi-factorial diseases such as cancer. To learn more about Dr. Morin's research, read The Protein Link to Cancer, published in the BC Cancer Foundation Spring 2015 Partners in Discovery magazine.

The functions of most proteins are defined by or mediated through interactions with other proteins. These interactions are organized into complex networks regulated, in part, through modulation of protein phosphorylation by an elaborate interconnected system of kinases and phosphatases. We use quantitative proteomic techniques to study how protein networks, protein-protein interactions and post-translational modifications are aberrantly regulated in cancer.

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Dr. Ryan Morin

Specific research aims are as follows: 
1) Determine the genetic events that lead to treatment resistance, relapse and metastasis in common human cancers with a focus on lymphoma and pediatric cancers
2) Develop sensitive assays for detecting the presence of tumour cells and key driver mutations in the bloodstream of patients
3) Identify commonalities and differences between common canine cancers and their human counterparts
4) Develop improved methods for detecting mutations in massively parallel sequencing data and integrating distinct mutation types to aid in identifying driver mutations

Laboratory trainees will have the opportunity to learn how to produce and analyze next generation sequencing (NGS) data using an Illumina MiSeq. I am open to trainees who desire a strictly wet-lab focus and those with purely bioinformatics projects and any blend of the two. Owing to my affiliation with the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre, students will have access to clinical collaborators and additional high throughput NGS instruments such as the HiSeq and IonTorrent Personal Genome Machine.

Dr. Brad Nelson

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Phil Greenberg and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, he became the founding Director of the BC Cancer Agency's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Nelson’s lab uses genomic and molecular approaches to study the immune response to cancer, with an emphasis on ovarian and lymphoid cancers. As Co-Director of the BCCA’s Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on adoptive T cell therapy for gynecological cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and other malignancies. His team is developing innovative genetic engineering approaches to create more potent and precise T cell products for the treatment of cancer.

Dr. Torsten Nielsen

Prof Torsten Nielsen is an MD/PhD clinician-scientist in the Department of Pathology, who specializes in sarcomas and breast cancer. He works to translate genomic discoveries into practical clinical diagnostics and treatments. Some of his successes include the development of new diagnostic immunohistochemistry and nanoString assays for sarcomas and breast cancer molecular subtypes, international standardization of Ki67 testing, FDA and EU clearance of the PAM50 (Prosigna) assay for breast cancer risk, and contributions to clinical trials for fusion oncogene sarcomas and for the safe de-escalation of breast cancer chemo- and radiotherapy in low risk women. His current projects listed at and current lab members at

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Dr. Marianne Sadar

The major focus of my research is to develop therapies that will delay or prevent tumour progression and emergence of hormone independence in prostate cancer. Current treatment for the onset of early stages of prostate cancer is the removal of male hormones, also called androgens, by either drug or surgical treatments. While initially effective in reducing cancer symptoms and PSA levels, this treatment is unable to completely and permanently eliminate all prostate cancer cells. After a predictable initial response to treatment, there is a relapse as the cancer progresses to a more aggressive androgen-independent stage. An early sign of progression to androgen independence, related to reduced survival, is the reappearance of elevated serum levels of PSA. The proteins that regulate the expression of the PSA gene have been shown to correlate well with the progression of prostate cancer, with both gene expression and the disease going from an androgen-dependent to an androgen-independent stage. One of these proteins is the one that actually recognizes and interacts directly with androgens and is called the androgen receptor. Thus the major objective of one area of my research program is to identify the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate the behaviour of proteins such as the androgen receptor during the progression of prostate cancer to androgen independence. 

Dr. Intan Schrader

Dr Schrader's research involves assessing the scope and impact of germline findings identified in the course of research and clinical next generation sequencing in the oncology setting. Dr Schrader's research also involves the molecular diagnosis and characterization of hereditary cancer syndromes in the research and clinical setting with a view to improved diagnosis, surveillance and treatment of associated cancers.

 Research Areas

* Familial Pancreatic Cancer

* Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer

* Familial Leukemia - defining the genetic basis

* Hereditary susceptibility to cancer - defining the genetic basis

* Multiple primary cancers - defining the genetic basis

* Germline variants in tumor sequencing

* Incidental and secondary germline variants

* Improving diagnosis and management of hereditary cancers

Dr. David Scott

The focus of the research in the Scott laboratory is aimed at improving outcomes of patients with lymphoid cancers through precision medicine. This involves unravelling the molecular determinants of treatment failure, applying cutting edge technology to patient biopsies, and then translating that knowledge into assays that can be used to guide treatment management. These approaches have led to the development of prognostic and predictive biomarkers for classical Hodgkin lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma that are applicable to routinely produced formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded biopsies – allowing these assays to be used in clinical practice. 

The poor outcomes seen when patients experience treatment failure have led to an emphasis on the biology of these cancers at the time point of relapse, exploring high-risk genetic features and evolution of tumors as they are exposed to immuno-chemotherapy. The Scott laboratory is now leading and co-ordinating correlative studies in clinical trials of treatment of relapsed and refractory aggressive B-cell lymphoma. Finally, the Scott laboratory has broadened the biobank at BC Cancer to enable the expansion of this research into chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Dr. Christian Steidl

Dr Steidl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology (University of British Columbia) and Lymphoid Cancer Research (BC Cancer Agency). He is holding an MD degree from the University of Muenster, Germany, and a PhD equivalent degree from University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany. Dr Steidl has expertise in clinical malignant hematology, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, next-generation sequencing and functional genomics. Dr. Steidl joined the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in 2006. He is currently supervising a translational research laboratory focusing on the pathogenesis of B cell lymphomas. Dr Steidl is most known for his work on biomarkers in Hodgkin lymphoma and discovery of novel gene fusions in B cell lymphomas. He has authored 74 refereed articles in the field of hematological malignanices and has been an invited speaker at many conferences. He also serves as a member of the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s Panel of Scientific Advisors and the Medical Expert Committee of the Cancer Research Society. Dr Steidl holds research funding as the principle investigator by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC), the Canadian Hematology Society (CHS), and is co-investigator on a Genome Canada grant to advance personalized treatments of lymphoid cancer patients. Dr. Steidl also holds a career investigator award by the Michael-Smith Foundation for Health Research and a New Investigator Award by the CIHR.

Dr. Peter Stirling

The Stirling lab is a vibrant research group embedded within the Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada. The lab is using functional genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and advanced imaging in both the yeast model and cultured human cells to study fundamental mechanisms of genome maintenance and stability. Failure to maintain genome integrity leads to mutations that can promote tumour formation. Normal genome maintenance mechanisms can be overwhelmed by carcinogen exposure, or the presence of germline or somatic variants that induce genomic instability. Our work is aimed at determining the causes of genomic instability as an enabling characteristic of tumour formation, and exploring the potential of these early events to suggest novel therapeutic targets.

Dr. Isabella Tai

My laboratory is especially interested in understanding the mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance, metastasis and tumour progression in gastrointestinal cancers using genomics and proteomics approaches. Four main projects are currently underway in the laboratory:

1. Mechanisms of Chemotherapy Resistance in Gastrointestinal Cancers

2. Understanding the contribution of chemotherapy resistant cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment in gastrointestinal tumor metastasis

3. Identification of Novel Genes Involved in the Colorectal Cancer Progression

4. CIHR Team in Genomic, Imaging and Modeling Approaches to Advance Population-Based Colorectal Cancer Screening


Dr. Michael Underhill

Dr. Underhill’s research interests involve understanding how changes at the molecular level influence cell fate decisions and the subsequent series of events that are involved in establishment of a skeleton. The initial focus of his research was on understanding the importance of retinoic acid receptor-mediated signaling in bone formation (chondrogenesis). This scope has now broadened to include analysis of numerous factors in skeletal development. These studies involve extensive use of microarray-based strategies coupled with functioning profiling to delineate the genetic programs underlying chondrogenesis. Similar strategies are also being employed to identify the transcriptional networks operating within the osteogenic program. Knowledge gained from these studies will determine the molecular basis of human congenital skeletal defects and potentially lead to novel therapeutic avenues to promote bone and cartilage formation for the treatment of skeletal diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Dr. Ly Vu

The overarching goal of our laboratory is to understand the control of stem cells in development and diseases. Our research group is focused on uncovering novel mechanisms of post-transcriptional and translational regulation during normal and malignant hematopoiesis. We aim to develop innovative therapeutic approaches targeting these regulatory pathways in cancer.

While disruption of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms and altered signaling networks are commonly studied, the role post-transcriptional and translational regulation in tumorigenesis has only recently recognized. We are particularly interested in defining the regulation of mRNA decay and translation mediated by poly(A) tail length and RNA deadenylation complexes in the context of normal and leukemia stem cells. Despite the central role of mRNA decay and poly(A) tails in regulating and coupling RNA metabolism and translation, it is virtually unknown how these processes contribute to drive and maintain the self-renewal and oncogenic gene expression programs in stem cells and cancer. Our work will provide insights into this largely unexplored area and enable development of new therapies. The laboratory employs human and mouse models; a broad range of molecular biology methods and a global approach using next generation sequencing techniques to decipher regulation of gene expression at multiple layers from transcription to mRNA biogenesis and translation.

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Dr. Stephen Yip

Genomics and Computational Biology, Molecular Biology and Metabolism

Stephen completed his combined M.D-Ph.D. training followed by 4 years of neurosurgical training at UBC. He switched to neuropathology and obtained his Royal College certification in 2007. He completed fellowship training in molecular neuro-oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital under the mentorship of Dr David Louis (RC Clinician Investigator Program) and molecular genetic pathology at MGH/Harvard Medical School under the supervision of Dr John Iafrate. He currently practices neuropathology at Vancouver General Hospital and is the director of the Cancer Genetics & Genomics Laboratory at BC Cancer. His research interests include dissecting the molecular pathology of brain and spine cancers, practical deployment of advanced diagnostic assays, and the application of deep learning as an integrative diagnostic tool.

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