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.
Lab website: http://hirstlab.msl.ubc.ca
Dr. Robert Holt
We applied deep sequencing to T-cell repertoire analysis to obtain a first glimpse of repertoire diversity at the ultimate resolution of individual clonotypes (Freeman et al., Genome Res. 2009). Currently, we are using these methods to explore the role of T cells in cancer, and how to enhance the anti-cancer immune response. We are particularly focussed on developing new sequence based approaches to T cell antigen discovery and characterization. We are engineering T cells to selectively deliver modified cytotoxic payloads and pro-drug activators, for the purpose of enhanced tumor cell killing and overcoming immune resistance. We find pathogens by their sequence signatures in human tissues, using genomic methods. Our application of these methods to colorectal carcinoma identified a strong link to the emerging pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum. Cancer-associated infectious agents are of potential utility as targets for vaccination, treatment and prevention. We are using deep sequencing and novel computational methods to identify the spectrum of somatic mutations in various cancers, with a particular focus on tumor evolution and the identification of antigens for cancer vaccines. We are systematically assessing the most highly recurrent cancer mutations for their immunogenicity using a combination of mass spectrometry, flow cytometry and cellular immunoassays. We are optimizing procedures of isolating, expanding, activating, and redelivering these mutation-reactive T cells as targeted immunotherapies.
Lab website: http://www.holtlab.ca/research.html
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.
Lab website: http://pathology.ubc.ca/faculty/david-huntsman/
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.
Lab website: http://www.bcgsc.ca/faculty/sjones