Page 4 - Labatt BTRC Annual Report 2020-2021
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Principal Investigators of the BTRC
Karolina Gaebe, Graduate Student Alyssa Li, Graduate Student
Marina Nikolopoulos, Graduate Student Sorcha Kellett, Research Manager Megan Wu, Research Project Manager
Dr. Sunit Das
Senior Scientist, Principal Investigator
Dr. Das studied literature at the University
of Michigan and philosophy at Harvard University before attending medical school
at Northwestern University in Chicago.
During medical school, he performed studies
at the NINDS/NIH leading to his PhD in Neurobiology. Dr. Das returned to Northwestern for neurosurgical residency, during which he undertook a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the lab of Jack Kessler. His research work focused on the mechanisms controlling adult neurogenesis. He also developed a program in cancer stem cell biology. On completion of his residency
in 2010, Dr. Das was recruited to the Division
of Neurosurgery at St. Michael’s Hospital,
the University of Toronto. He has received numerous honours and awards locally and internationally, and has published his research findings in journals including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Cell, JAMA,
the New England Journal of Medicine, and JAMA Neurology. His research is focused on understanding the epigenetic mechanisms that control cell identity and cell fate in glioblastoma.
Research Support: Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Cancer Research Society Operating Grant, Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders AYA Oncology Operating Grant, Patient & Family Advisory Committee of The Gerry and Nancy Pence Brain Tumour Centre
Dr. Peter Dirks
Senior Scientist, Principal Investigator
The Dirks lab is focused on the biology of brain tumours of children and adults, with a primary
aim to understand the link between stem cell biology, development, and brain tumour growth.
A secondary aim is to understand brain tumour heterogeneity and how diverse cell types contribute to tumour maintenance and treatment resistance.
In 2004, the Dirks laboratory was the first to prospectively identify cancer stem cells in human brain tumours, contributing to a paradigm shift
in understanding solid cancer growth, and
putting emphasis on consideration of stemness properties both experimentally and conceptually in the study of brain tumours. In the last few years, studies in the lab have uncovered the persistence of a primitive stem-like cell population in the developing cerebellar external granule layer of the brain, and in combination with abnormal activation of the SHH signalling pathway, leads
to the formation of medulloblastoma.
Through these studies, the Dirks lab is committed to advancing the fundamental understanding of cancer and to develop new treatment options for patients with these devastating tumours.
Research Support: American Association for Cancer Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Cancer Research UK, Genome Canada, Meagan’s HUG (Meagan Bebenek Foundation), Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, SickKids Garron Family Cancer Centre, Stand Up To Cancer (EIF Foundation), Terry Fox Research Institute, The Brain Tumour Charity
Garrett Bullivant, Graduate Student Biren Dave, Graduate Student Akram Hamed, Graduate Student Caitlin Herrington, Graduate Student Naijin Li, Graduate Student
Rochelle McAdam, Graduate Student Sabrina Roy, Graduate Student
Matthaeus Ware, Graduate Student Vincent Ye, Graduate Student
Charles Chesnelong, Postdoctoral Fellow Matthias Dedobbeleer, Postdoctoral Fellow Kinjal Desai, Postdoctoral Fellow
Sonam Dolma, Postdoctoral Fellow
Morgane Morabito, Postdoctoral Fellow
Nataliia Svergun, Postdoctoral Fellow
Homa Ashrafpour, Clinical Research Project Manager
Fiona Coutinho, Scientific Project Manager
Michelle Kushida, Research Project Manager
Lilian Lee, Research Project Coordinator
Naghmeh Rastegar, Research Project Coordinator
Tracey Richards, Administrative Project Manager
Jinchu Vijay, Bioinformatician Heather Whetstone, Research Project
Chunying Yu, Research Technologist
 4 IMAGINE 2020-21

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