Principal Investigator


Jason Moffat

Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics of Cancer

Post-doctoral Fellowship Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA;
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA
PhD. Molecular Genetics University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
HBSc. Biochemistry (Co-op) Queens University, Kingston, ON

Appointed: Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Cross Appointment: Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Contact: j.moffat@utoronto.ca

Research Associates


Kevin Brown

Senior Research Associate

PhD. Medical Biophysics University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
MSc. Medical Biophysics University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
HBSc. Biology, Computer Science University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

Current Research: Lentiviral-based shRNA screens have been used to produce essential gene profiles in breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Building computational models that incorporate copy number, gene expression, and mutational profiles with the essential gene profiles should allow us to reveal novel cancer vulnerabilities. The focus of my research is developing these integrative data models, analysis tools, databases and novel visualizations to facilitate the search for novel druggable targets.



Taras Makhnevych

Senior Research Associate

PhD. Biochemistry Lviv State University, Lviv, Ukraine
MSc. Biochemistry Lviv State University, Ukraine

Current Research: Mutant p53 proteins not only lose their tumor suppressive functions, but also gain new abilities to promote tumorigenesis. Studying the genetic interaction profiles of TP53 mutations we are trying to map genes that encode the downstream effectors of the p53 mutant protein as well as decipher molecular mechanisms of the mutant p53 gain-of-function.



Jelena Tomic

Research Associate

PhD. Medical Biophysics University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
HBSc. Human Biology (major) Economics (minor) University of Toronto, Toronto ON

Current Research: Investigating the role of complement regulatory proteins in cancer. Project management for Medicine by Design Progam.


Post-Doctoral Fellows


Michael Aregger


PhD. Life Sciences University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
MSc. Plant Sciences University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
BSc. Biology University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Current Research: Investigating the gene expression reprogramming induced by environmental stress in cancer cells by performing genetic screens using the CRISPR-Cas9 system.



Yfke Pasman


PhD. Molecular & Cellular Biology University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
MSc. Pharmacology University of Groningen, Netherlands
BSc. Agriculture VanHall Institute Groningen, Netherlands

Current Research: A lot of naturally occurring tumors in dogs have similar characteristics to human tumors. Part of my research is to develop and characterize species cross-reactive therapeutic antibodies through phage selection techniques and antibody engineering, using dogs as a model. The therapeutic antibodies target existing as well as novel potential cancer modulating targets.



Zvezdan Pavlovic


PhD. Molecular Biology & Biochemistry University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
BSc./MSc. Molecular Biology and Physiology University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia

Current Research: Performing cell-based selection (Cellectseq) to isolate phage displayed antibody fragments (Fabs) against membrane proteins implicated in cancer cell development and proliferation. Functional characterization of Fabs and synthetic antibodies for use in research and as potential diagnostic agents and/or biologics.



Maria-Augusta Sartori


PhD. Molecular Biology Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
BSc. BiologyPontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil

Current Research: Developing high-throughput genetic screens combined with cellular functional assays and phenotype-based selections to identify bioactive ubiquitin-based protein binders (ubiquitin variants) that affect key processes associated with malignant cell behavior.



Ashwin Seetharaman


PhD. Molecular GeneticsUniversity of Toronto, Toronto, ON
MSc.McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
BSc.The American College, Madurai, India

Current Research: Mapping genome-scale genetic interaction network in human cells using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing



Alexander Weiss


PhD. Cell BiologyUniversity of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Dipl. BiochemistryUniversity of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

Current Research:Indulging in the wonderful world of CRISPR and how it's used in genetic screening. Some cool stuff with pluripotent stem cells, too. Also a long-standing interest in research of coconut palm-related injuries.


Graduate Students


Sabriyeh Alibai

MSc Student

BSc. Biomedical Sciences Brunel University, London, UK

Current Research:CRISPR/Cas9-based functional genomics screening using Ubv libraries.



Megha Chandrashekhar

PhD Student

MSc. Molecular Biology and Genetics Queen's University, Kingston, ON
BTech. Biotechnology VIT University, India

Current Research: Genomic instability (GIN) is an emerging hallmark of most cancers. This property of cancer cells could be exploited through the concept of synthetic lethal interactions to identify drug targets that select against cells with GIN. Loss of human securin results in chromosomal instability. My project involves characterization of genes which were found to have synthetic lethal interaction with human securin which would provide further insights into mechanisms of genomic instability and cancer



Hong Han

PhD Student

BSc. Biology - Genetics University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Current Research:The main focus of my research project is to develop and apply high-throughput strategies (e.g. RNAi-based screen and multiplex RT-PCR barcode sequencing) to systematically discover factors that control alternative splicing events with important functions in stem cell pluripotency, embryonic development and cancer, and thereby facilitate focused investigations of the underlying regulatory mechanisms. (Co-supervised by Dr. Ben Blencowe)



Keith Lawson

PhD Student (Surgeon Scientist Training Program - Urology)

BSc. Biological Sciences University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
MD/MSc. Medical Sciences (Cancer Biology) University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Current Research:Discovery of novel therapeutic targets for renal cell carcinoma through genetic screens with the CRISPR-Cas9 system.



Allison Nixon

PhD Student

HBSc. Molecular Biology and Genetics (Co-op) McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Current Research:1) Investigating the biological role of primitive cell marker CD133 in human cancer cells using lentiviral mediated RNAi. 2) Investigating how cellular glucose metabolism and the regulation of the post-translational modification O-GlcNAc on components of key developmental signalling pathways regulate cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion.



Xiaoyu (Sally) Zhang

MSc Student

BSc. Microbiology & Immunology (Interdepartmental Honours) McGill University, Montreal, QC

Current Research:Developing therapeutic antibodies to enhance immune targeting of renal cell carcinoma using CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screens.




Patricia Mero

Lab Manager

MISt. Information StudiesUniversity of Toronto, Toronto, ON
HBSc. Molecular Biology and GeneticsUniversity of Guelph, Guelph, ON

Current Research: Answering the phones



Kaajal Nagar


MSc. Biochemistry University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
HBSc. (Co-op) Biochemistry University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

Current Research: Perform high throughput lentiviral-mediated RNAi and cell proliferation assays to validate novel cancer targets, PCR for probe amplification from pooled shRNA screen genomic DNA for microarray analysis and PCR to produce shRNA Illumina sequencing libraries from pooled shRNA screen genomic DNA




Alejandro Duque

4th Year Project Student

BSc. Molecular Genetics University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Current Research:Discovering the targets of phage-display derived synthetic antibodies to CD133+ human cancer stem cells



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